Sensory Preferences of Consumers for High pH, Low pH Commodity Pork Loins and Berkshire Pork Loins
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Consumers desire pork that will transcend into a pleasurable dining experience. Tenderness, juiciness, and flavor are sensory parameters that will primarily determine consumer acceptance of pork in the retail market. The pH of the muscle tissue appears to be one of the major factors influencing the sensory perception of pork. In this study consumers were asked to evaluate loin samples of high pH (6.10), low pH commodity loins (5.65) and berkshire loins (5.58). There was no significant difference in overall acceptance between the high pH and berkshire loins but a difference was noted for the low pH loins. High pH and berkshire pork loins were preferred over the low pH for tenderness and the high pH tended to have a slight preference over the Berkshire. For juiciness the high pH and berkshire loins were significantly superior over the low pH loins. Consumers in this study choose the berkshire loins over the high and low pH loins for flavor. But there was less difference noted in flavor between the berkshire and high pH loins. The Berkshire breed is known for its superior muscle quality and consumer preference. Even though the berkshire loins were the lowest in pH in this study, the “Berkshire influence” was evident for consumer satisfaction and preference. Therefore, according to the consumers participating in this sensory panel, high pH and berkshire loins would provide the most acceptable dining experience for a pork consumer. However, when the panelist where given the opportunity to evaluate the uncooked samples for their preference as a purchase selection at the meat counter, approximately 75% chose the low pH loin sample which was the lightest in color and had the least amount of marbling. Therefore, this clearly demonstrates the need for more consumer education on pork quality and how to select pork at the meat counter to achieve the ultimate dining experience.