Benchmarking value in the pork supply chain: quantitative strategies and opportunities to improve quality in ham and belly processing
Person, Ryan Christopher
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Fresh bone-in hams were sorted into "high pH" (5.6 or greater) and "low pH" (5.5 or less) groups and processed into spiral sliced, bone-in hams. Randomly selected hams from each group were evaluated for objective color and purge loss during a 75-day storage period and at a "holiday thaw" or 137-day storage date. At slicing, the "high pH" group displayed lower levels (P < 0.05) of fluid loss. When evaluated during the "holiday thaw" period, the "high pH" group had lower L* and higher a* values (P < 0.05), as well as lower purge loss values (P < 0.05). Boneless inside cushion muscles (M. semimembranosus) were sorted into four treatment groups: Control, Low PSE, Intermediate PSE, and High PSE. There were differences (P < 0.05) found between all treatments for fresh muscle pH. The Low PSE group had the lowest L* and highest a* values, whereas the High PSE group had the highest L* and lowest a* values as fresh muscles. The sorted muscles then were manufactured into 4x6 sliced ham, water added product. The Low PSE group displayed lower yield loss values during slicing. Randomly selected finished product was evaluated for objective color and purge loss during a 75-day storage period. The Low PSE and Control groups had lower mean L*, and lower mean purge loss values (P < 0.05). At day 45, consumer panel evaluations and textural measurements were collected. The Low PSE group had higher purchase intent ratings (P < 0.05) when compared to all other treatments. Fresh bellies were sorted into three treatments (Thin, Average, Thick) according to thickness. Information collected included processing and slicing yields, consumer panel sensory and visual characteristics, and proximate composition values. While the Thick treatment showed yield advantages during processing and slicing, the Thin and Average groups were clearly preferred (P < 0.05) when the consumer panel visually evaluated the slices. These data suggest that sorting for higher lean quality, if feasible, can be advantageous for ham manufacturing. In addition, thick bellies have proven to have an advantage during processing; however, consumers still prefer bacon that is visually leaner.