George Charbonneau from Southwest Ontario Veterinary Services, Cooking Low And Slow

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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]

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