There are quite a few meat characteristics that are thought to have an effect on consumer acceptance of pork. These researchers theorized that consumers would rate a greater percentage of pork chops as acceptable when graded “choice” by NPPC standards, had a greater ultimate pH, or when cooked to 63°C compared with chops graded “standard”, had a lesser ultimate pH, or when cooked to 71°C or 82°C. They served pork chops to 264 consumers who then rated the pork chops on a 9-point Likert-type score system All chops were cooked with a sous-vide device (ANOVA Precision Cooker). The researchers were somewhat surprised by the results. The quality grade did not affect (P ≥ 0.30) consumer ratings for any sensory trait. More (P < 0.01) consumers rated chops with a high pH (36.07%) as juicy compared with chops with a low pH (24.29%), but pH category did not alter (P ≥ 0.13) perceptions for tenderness, flavor, or overall acceptability. A greater (P < 0.001) percentage of consumers rated chops cooked to 63°C (145°F) as acceptable compared with chops cooked to 71°C (160°F).
Take Home Message
Internal cooking temperature has a greater impact on consumer eating experience than “quality grade” or ultimate pH.
We need to continue to get the message out that cooking pork “low and slow with a hint of pink” at 63°C internal temperature is perfectly safe and results in a yummy eating experience.
Submitted by George Charbonneau, DVM
Ref: Honegger LT, Richardson E, Schunke ED, Dilger AC, Boler DD. Final internal cooking temperature of pork chops influenced consumer eating experience more than visual color and marbling or ultimate pH. J Anim Sci. 2019 Apr 10. pii: skz117. doi: 10.1093/jas/skz117. [Epub ahead of print]