Intramuscular fat content has little influence on the eating quality of fresh pork loin chops

P. J. Rincker, J. Killefer, M. Ellis, M. S. Brewer, F. K. McKeith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fresh pork loins (n = 290) were selected from a commercial packing facility based on subjective marbling of the intact loin and 24-h pH to determine the influence of marbling on sensory attributes. The study was designed using pigs from a similar genetic background, raised in similar production facilities, and slaughtered on a single kill day to minimize the effects of genetics, management, environment, and slaughter day. Loins were vacuum-packaged, transported to the University of Illinois Meat Science Laboratory, and aged for 7 d, after which a chop was removed from the area of the tenth rib for proximate analysis. Quality measurements, including National Pork Producers Council color, marbling, and firmness, ultimate pH, Minolta L, a, and b, and drip loss, were determined after aging. After the proximate composition was completed, 150 loins were selected to provide a continuous and uniform distribution of extractable lipid, ranging from 1 to 8%, and a pH range from 5.5 to 5.8. Trained sensory panel analyses (end point cooking temperatures of 62, 71, or 80°C) as well as measurement of Warner-Bratzler shear force (cooked to 71°C) were performed on chops from the 150 loins. Consumer evaluation was also conducted on a subset (n = 40) of these loins, which were broken down into 5 discrete levels of intramuscular lipid, with averages of 1.6, 2.5, 3.6, 4.5, and 5.7% extractable lipid. Consumers were also asked to select the chops they would most prefer from a retail display case based on the amount of marbling present. Results from the consumer portion of the study indicated that intramuscular fat content had limited effects on perceived tenderness, juiciness, pork flavor, and oiliness; some significant differences (P < 0.05) were detectable, but they were numerically small. Most consumers also selected lean chops from the retail case, with nearly 50% selecting chops with less than 1.7% extractable lipid. Warner-Bratzler shear force was negatively related (P < 0.0001) to extractable lipid, with an R2 value of 0.10. Results from the trained panel sensory analysis indicate that the percentage of extractable lipid did not correlate strongly with perceived tenderness, juiciness, or pork flavor for this group of pork loins that was controlled for genetics, pH, management, and day of slaughter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)730-737
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2008


  • Consumer
  • Lipid
  • Marbling
  • Pork
  • Quality
  • Sensory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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