Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Food Scientist Is Changing The Way We Look At Pork

Date:
August 13, 2006
Source:
Iowa State University
Summary:
When he saw that Japanese export buyers always selected the darkest pork, Iowa State University food scientist Ken Prusa wanted to know why. He found that they were selecting not by color, but by what color indicated: pH. Darker pork, with its higher pH is more tender, juicy and flavorful. Now he's working with packers and processors to take advantage of the pH factor.

Iowa State University food scientist Ken Prusa has identified pH as a strong indicator of pork quality. Pork with a higher pH is darker and more tender, juicy and flavorful.
Credit: Image courtesy of Iowa State University

You may never look at a cut of pork in the same way again. In fact, research by an Iowa State University food scientist could have you seeing red.

Ken Prusa, a professor of food science and human nutrition, has been researching ways to improve pork quality since he joined the Iowa State faculty in 1985. At that time, the push was to make pork extremely lean. By 1987, the pork industry had launched its marketing campaign, "The Other White Meat," which was based on public perception that chicken and turkey are more healthful than red meat, including pork.

Now, 20 years later, Prusa is part of a growing circle of scientists and leaders in the industry who think pork may be lean enough.

"So we're studying other attributes of the product to look for points of differentiation for value added," he said.

And Prusa may have identified a characteristic that could prove to be as significant to the industry as leanness.

"I was doing research in a meat packing plant and noticed that the Japanese export buyers always chose the darker pork," he said. "I wanted to find out why, so I evaluated some darker products."

Prusa's research showed the Japanese were selecting not by color, but by what color indicated: pH, a measure of acidity or alkalinity. Darker pork has a slightly higher pH than lighter pork. A higher pH means there's less acid -- acid that damages muscle proteins and causes meat to be pale and watery.

"Through sensory testing, we found pH to be a pretty strong driver of ultimate pork quality. Higher pH products are more tender, juicy and flavorful," he said. "It tuned us in to an opportunity to add value to pork products in the marketplace."

"Now producers and packers are hearing more about the pH factor and learning that it's in their best interest to produce products with higher pH," he said.

So how do they do that?

Genetics, processing and stress cause low pH.

"Chilling is a big factor in processing," Prusa said. "It's critical to lower the temperature of the carcass fairly rapidly. Otherwise, the pH may drop too low before chilling can stabilize it. "

There's also a growing emphasis on reducing the stress an animal experiences just before slaughter. Keeping animals as calm as possible is key.

"Stress causes a high metabolism rate, which creates a lot of adrenaline. When that happens right before slaughter, it causes a really rapid pH decline. If there's a rapid pH decline in the hot carcass, it's even worse. At that point, there's not much you can do for quality," he said.

Prusa is working with packers, processors and geneticists to take advantage of the pH factor.

"There's probably a premium market in the U.S. for higher pH pork. Some major retailers on the West and East coasts are figuring out that the best pork is exported. We're looking at specific ways to provide them higher pH products," he said.

And, some processors and packers are moving toward buying pigs on the basis of pH. Packers are almost to the point of routinely measuring pH on the production line.

"When that happens, it will be like when they started measuring leanness. Pigs got lean. And when consumers started to pay for leanness, pigs got lean in a hurry," Prusa said.

"We hope that through our work with packers and processors, we'll see higher pH products on the market soon. We're looking at ways of marketing products on the basis of the deeper, richer color and flavor. People can see the difference. Once they taste it, the better quality is obvious," he said.

"If you tell the story correctly, back it up with scientific information, and have a better product," Prusa said. "Consumers will buy it."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Iowa State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Iowa State University. "Food Scientist Is Changing The Way We Look At Pork." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 August 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060812155437.htm>.
Iowa State University. (2006, August 13). Food Scientist Is Changing The Way We Look At Pork. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060812155437.htm
Iowa State University. "Food Scientist Is Changing The Way We Look At Pork." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060812155437.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) A disease that has killed more than six million cave-dwelling bats in the United States is on the move and wildlife biologists are worried. White Nose Syndrome, discovered in New York in 2006, has now spread to 25 states. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) Scientists say for the extremely elderly, their stem cells might reach a state of exhaustion. This could limit one's life span. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Kangaroo Rescued from Swimming Pool

Raw: Kangaroo Rescued from Swimming Pool

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) A kangaroo was saved from drowning in a backyard suburban swimming pool in Australia's Victoria state on Thursday. Australian broadcaster Channel 7 showed footage of the kangaroo struggling to get out of the pool. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Marijuana Use Lead To Serious Heart Problems?

Could Marijuana Use Lead To Serious Heart Problems?

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) A new study says marijuana use could lead to serious heart-related complications. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins