Our objectives were to determine the optimal accelerated chill time immediately postmortem necessary to improve the quality of pork muscle and to decrease the incidence of pale, soft, and exudative pork. Carcasses from 81 market hogs were cooled either by conventional chill (CC) at 2°C or by accelerated chill (AC) at -32°C for 60, 90, 120, or 150 min, and then placed into a 2°C cooler for the remainder of the 24-h chill period. Loin muscle pH was higher (P < 0.05) for the carcasses that were accelerated chilled longer than 60 min. Although loin visual color, texture, and firmness scores increased (P < 0.05) with AC time, no improvements were noted beyond 60 min. Color, pH, texture, firmness, and CIE L*a*b* values of fresh ham muscles were not (P > 0.05) affected by AC. In addition, AC did not (P > 0.05) affect purge, drip, or thaw loss of fresh products, sensory scores of loins or processed hams (except initial juiciness; P < 0.05), water-holding capacity of processed hams, or processing characteristics of hams. Cooking loss and Warner-Bratzler shear values for hams and loins were not (P > 0.05) affected by AC. Accelerated chilling caused loins to be darker (lower L* value; P < 0.05) and to have lower (P < 0.05) b* values (less yellow) than CC loins. Accelerated chilling increased water-holding capacity in fresh hams, bound water being the greatest (P < 0.05) in the 120- and 150-min AC groups. These results demonstrate that improvements in pork loin quality can be made using freezer-accelerated chilling for carcasses.
- Meat Quality