All muscles of the pork carcass are subject to the DFD condition. Marbling standards, from top: 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0. Although pork has generally been stigmatised by the poor consistency of the product, large-scale studies at the mRNA expression, proteome and genome levels are providing new insights into the relationships between meat quality, individual genes and functional processes within the muscle tissue. Color is important because it impacts consumers’ first impressions of the meat. Co., Dubuque, IA. Meat with such lower pH values generally has inferior processing characteristics. These traits are often seen at a higher, or more extreme level, in show pigs. Meat with adequate marbling is less likely to be tough. National Pork Producers Council publication, Des Moines, IA. And we’ve gotten even pickier with age. It is important that pigs exhibited in youth swine shows produce meat that has high eating quality. The authors, reviewers, and publishers assume no liability in connection with any use for the products discussed and make no warranty, expressed or implied, in that respect, nor can it be assumed that all safety measures are indicated herein or that additional measures may be required. Principles of Meat Science (Third Edition). All three speakers independently said the same thing; “the pork industry needs to align the grading with consumers demands.” The beef industry has done this and has been successful. In fresh PSE or RSE pork this pink fluid accumulates within retail packages, and leads to less juicy pork after cooking. Therefore, all stakeholders of the Ontario pork industry must work together to strive for high pork quality to remain competitive and successful in both domestic and international pork markets. This is probably why there are no meat quality standards and why the pork quality grading system has not been updated since 1985, nearly 31 years ago. The consumers can tell the difference when they eat pork with more marbling and tenderness. Pigs that carry the stress gene often have carcasses that are leaner and heavier muscled. A period of extended stress on the pig, caused by factors such as severe weather, long transport or unfavorable holding conditions, can deplete muscle glycogen and cause the DFD condition in pork muscle. This negative association creates conflict between the goals of increasing carcass lean yield, and maintaining acceptable muscle quality. Enhanced or pumped pork is injected up to 10% of its weight with solutions containing ingredients such as salt, phosphates, or flavor enhancers. This material may be available in alternative formats. An important reaction in postmortem muscle is the conversion of stored muscle sugar (glycogen) to lactic acid. Sebranek, J. G. and M. D. Judge. Use of available genetic screening techniques to identify and reduce or eliminate the recessive PSS gene from breeding stock can lead to further improvement in lean pork quality. Desirable lean quality in fresh pork is described as reddish-pink in color, firm in texture and free of surface wateriness (nonexudative). USDA. There appears to be a growing interest as an industry to improve pork quality. References: In selecting pigs for desirable lean quality, marbling should be considered. Cutter, A. C., R. G. Kauffman, and L. L. Christian. However in PSE muscle, lactic acid is produced at a greatly accelerated rate after slaughter (Figure 4), creating an acidic muscle environment while carcass temperature is still quite high. The chemical conditions PSS produces in muscles (rapid lactic acid production and elevated temperature) strongly favors the development of PSE lean. Quality variations from this ideal result in the less desirable quality extremes of pale, soft and exudative (PSE) lean, and dark, firm and dry (DFD) lean (Figures 1, 2 and 3.) Some PSE and most DFD are caused by handling practices applied to pigs. Information developed for the Pork Information Gateway, a project of the U.S. Pork Center of Excellence supported fully by USDA/Agricultural Research Service, USDA/Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, Pork Checkoff, NPPC, state pork associations from Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Utah, and the Extension Services from several cooperating Land-Grant Institutions including Iowa State University, North Carolina State University, University of Minnesota, University of Illinois, University of Missouri, University of Nebraska, Purdue University, The Ohio State University, South Dakota State University, Kansas State University, Michigan State University, University of Wisconsin, Texas A & M University, Virginia Tech University, University of Tennessee, North Dakota State University, University of Georgia, University of Arkansas, and Colorado State University. However, the halothane challenge does not detect heterozygous carriers of this gene. The pork industry has made significant progress in recent years in altering the composition of carcasses, resulting fresh cuts and processed products to provide consumer products containing increased lean and less trimmable fat. While marbling levels vary widely in fresh pork (Figure 5 ), selection for leaner pigs has generally reduced the marbling content of the lean, increasing the potential for less desirable eating satisfaction by consumers. Stress or excitement of animals on the farm, during transport or at the slaughter plant may result in some degree of these conditions. Causes of the soft texture in PSE muscle are not well understood, but are probably linked to changes in muscle proteins and their orientation within the muscle cells. Unusual and variable lean color and excessive fluid accumulation (purge) in retail packages influence some shoppers to avoid these products. Pork Industry Handbook, PIH-127. While both normal and PSE muscle end up with similar “ultimate” (final) pH values of about 5.5, DFD muscle usually has an ultimate pH above 6.0 (Figure 2). Pork color can be described as pale (P), red (R) or dark (D). They are ideal for packing plants, meat labs and judging teams. Under these “normal” conditions pork lean exhibits typical red color, and muscle proteins retain acceptable water-holding ability.


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