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Modelling quality variations in commercial Ontario pork production

Purslow, P.P., Mandell, I.B., Widowski, T.M., Brown, J., deLange, C.F.M., Robinson, J.A.B., Squires, E.J., Cha, M.C., VanderVoort, G.
Meat science 2008 v.80 no.1 pp. 123-131
swine, genotype, pork, sensory properties, meat quality, sensory evaluation, texture, meat tenderness, water holding capacity, color, rigor mortis, finishing, animal behavior, animal husbandry, Ontario
This study explores the interactions of sensory and nutritional environment with genotype occurring in current commercial pork production in Ontario, Canada, which may interact to result in poor quality meat. The study focussed on identifying factors and signalling mechanisms that contribute to poor meat quality, in order to develop strategies to reduce the incidence of unacceptable product quality. In the first phase of the work reported here, animal behaviour and muscle metabolism studies were related to meat colour, tenderness and water-holding capacity measurements from commercially-produced pigs killed in a commercial packing plant. A partial least squares analysis was used to determine the most important of the principal production variables, peri-mortem biochemical measures and post-mortem carcass condition variables studied, in terms of their influence on water-holding, toughness and colour (L*-value). Variations between producer and kill day at the slaughterhouse were very strong contributors to variability in these three meat quality parameters, followed by pH variations. A second phase of the study is currently underway to characterize patterns of gene expression related to extremes of end-product quality and to reduce quality variations by nutritional and behavioural management strategies.