National Pork Quality Survey Quantifies PSE Incide

US - A national survey of the pork packing industry completed in 2005 by the Pork Checkoff and the University of Missouri has determined that the incidence of pale, soft and exudative (PSE) pork in the industry is 3.34 percent, significantly less than findings from a similar study three years earlier.
calendar icon 23 March 2006
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PSE pork is pale, soft and exudative pork that is of low quality and of significantly less value to the industry than normal pork. PSE pork becomes very dry and tough, with little flavor, and is unsuitable for many pork products. A National Pork Quality Audit in 2002 determined that the cost of PSE meat to the industry was up to $0.90 per head. The same audit found that PSE was present, on average, on 15.5 percent of the meat produced in U.S. packing plants. Some plants reported an incidence of up to 40 percent of PSE pork.

In 2005, the Pork Quality Solutions Advisory Group, a subcommittee of the Pork Checkoff’s Animal Science Committee, agreed to conduct a survey to determine the incidence of PSE pork. The study was concluded in late 2005.

The Pork Quality Solutions Advisory Group started out with the hypothesis that the 2002 audit may have overestimated the incidence of classical PSE by reporting individual quality traits such as pale color and softness as PSE. In the 2005 survey, the researcher set out to find “classic PSE“ meat, that is, pork that was pale, soft and watery.

The 2005 survey included packers harvesting 82 percent of the hogs marketed in the U.S. annually. The result was a 3.34 percent incidence, significantly less than the level reported in 2002.

Brian Zimmerman, a pork producer from Beatrice, Neb., and member of the Animal Science Committee said, “The pork industry still has work to do when it comes to pork quality. Three percent PSE is still too high and it is costing our industry millions of dollars per year.“ Zimmerman co-owns and manages his family’s farrow-to-finish operation that markets 7,200 pigs per year.

“It is encouraging to follow the improvements in pork quality over the past few years, but these improvements mean nothing if we can’t tell consumers how to prepare pork or if consumers don’t like the taste of it,“ said Zimmerman, who also is a member of the National Pork Board. The Animal Science Committee is cosponsoring another pork quality study to find consumer preferences on different pork cuts cooked at different temperatures.

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