Prediction of cooked ham yields parameters by pork quality measurements (pH, colour and transport loss)
Producers of pork products are increasingly focusing on fresh meat quality indicators to predict the processing quality of cooked ham. Drip loss, colour and pH, are the most important quality parameters that are used.
The aim of this study was to analyse the relationship between fresh pork characteristics and cooked ham quality. A total of 160 hams were randomly taken from pig carcasses in a slaughterhouse at 24 hours post-mortem. The hams were deboned and divided into 2 muscles: the topside (M. Semimembranosus) and the silverside (Biceps femoris). The muscles were processed into cooked hams. The cooked hams were sorted into 3 groups based on the fresh meat characteristics: pH (ultimate), colour and transport loss. Averaged processing yields of the grouped hams were compared. Also individual processing yields were correlated to the fresh meat characteristics. (colour Minolta L* value, ultimate pH and transport loss). This study confirmed that PSE meat, with a low ultimate pH, had a decreased Water Holding Capacity (WHC) and increased transport loss. During the transportation period the hams from the low pH group lost more fluid than the meat from the other 2 groups with medium and higher pH. During the injection and tumbling processes the group with the low pH, higher transport loss and lighter meat colour, gained more brine than the other 2 groups. All parameters investigated (pH, colour and transport loss) showed that, after the cooking process, the low pH and higher transport loss group was unable to retain the free water (brine solution) resulting in significantly higher cooking losses compared with the other meat quality groups. The final gain of the cooked hams was significant different only for different transport loss groups. The study concluded that pH and transport loss parameters investigated can be used to select raw material for cooked ham process under commercial conditions. The selected hams (with the higher pH or lower transport loss) had a 2.3% higher cooking yield.
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