Benchmarking value in the pork supply chain: Processing and consumer characteristics of hams manufactured from different quality raw materials.
Additional Document Info
Impact of fresh ham quality on finished ham product characteristics was evaluated. Bone-in hams destined for spiral-sliced ham manufacturing were sorted into two pH groups before processing: pH5.5 and pH5.6. For boneless hams, raw materials were sorted into groups with different levels of pale, soft, and exudative (PSE) product before manufacturing into sliced vacuum packaged hams: "Low PSE" (5% PSE muscle), "Intermediate PSE" (20-30% PSE muscle) or "High PSE" (40-60% PSE muscle). Few differences were observed between the pH5.5 and pH5.6 groups in objective color measures and drip loss in bone-in spiral-sliced hams stored under refrigeration, however, after frozen storage, hams from the pH5.5 group had lower L*- and a*-values and had much higher drip loss than those from the pH5.6 group. Processing yields for bone-in spiral-sliced hams were similar through cooking and chilling, however, the pH5.6 group had higher yields after slicing. For boneless hams, defects occurred at a greater frequency in hams formulated with a greater percentage of PSE raw materials than those with lower amounts of PSE. Differences in objective color measures and purge were minimal over the duration of storage time, but hams formulated with greater percentages of PSE raw materials were lighter in appearance and had less redness. Consumers gave lower color responses for hams formulated with "High PSE" amounts, but did not differentiate between hams manufactured with lower quantities of PSE muscle. However, when consumers directly compared packages of ham, there was distinct discrimination against hams manufactured with greater amounts of PSE. Purchase intent showed that consumers favored ham manufactured from fresh ham muscles containing low quantities of PSE tissue. Further research is needed to determine the optimal ratio of allowable PSE product in formulation that enables processors to maximize consumer appeal with the economic realities of sorting out PSE pork.