Traditionally muscles of the shoulder and ham have been marketed in groups as part of commodity primals (Boston shoulder, picnic shoulder, and ham). However, merchandising is evolving such that these primals sometimes are (or more often could be) subdivided into individual muscles or smaller muscle groups to meet specific value-added product needs. Understanding the properties of the individual muscles of these primals will enhance and encourage the development of new value-added uses for muscles possessing characteristics which match product needs. In this study, scientists and staff from the meat science groups at Iowa State University, the University of Wisconsin and Michigan State University studied the properties of the 25 major muscles from the ham and shoulder of 64 pork carcasses. These carcasses were selected from a packer buying a wide range of genetics, and represented defined broad ranges of carcass weight, percent muscle, and muscle pH at 45 minutes after slaughter (an indicator of eventual muscle quality). The muscles from each carcass were evaluated for many chemical and physical factors including: weight; final pH: color and color uniformity; nutrients such as fat, protein, cholesterol, fatty acids and iron; protein quality factors such as solubility and collagen content; tenderness and flavor. Based upon this muscle-specific information, now available for each of the significant muscles of the shoulder and ham, the generation of novel value-added product ideas, and the application of muscles for new value-added uses, is greatly enhanced. Representatives of the pork processing industry have access to these results to use in product development. The goal of this research is to stimulate greater use of suitable individual muscles or small muscle groups to create higher value pork products, increasing pork carcass value and improving economic returns to pork producers.
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