Pork Muscle Profiling: Determining the Properties of Individual Ham and Shoulder Muscles

The shoulder and ham primals of pork carcasses have traditionally been marketed to processors and retailers in intact form, for fabrication and manufacture into consumer products containing the variety of muscles found in those cuts. In recent years the meat processing industry has sought to develop new add-valued products by developing unique products from single muscles or groups of muscles from primal cuts. To facilitate this effort, it is very important to understand the characteristics of individual muscles. While the general properties of a primal cut as a whole are understood, the characteristics of individual muscles making up that primal are not well known. The objective of this project is to determine the physical and chemical properties of significant muscles from the ham and shoulder, to enhance selection of raw materials for use in developing new value-added pork items.


General Overview of Project:


Pork carcasses will be selected from a single packer which purchases pigs on the open market from a variety of producers employing a wide range of genetic lines. Carcass selection will follow guidelines for specific carcass weight ranges (190-210 and >220 lbs), estimated carcass percent muscle (50-54% and >56%) and pH at 45 minutes postmortem (pH<5.9 or >6.1; an indicator of lean quality), to assure a proper distribution of carcasses varying in these criteria. After 24 hours of chilling, carcasses (both sides) will be transported to the Meat Science Laboratory at Iowa State University.


Between 48 and 80 hours postmortem hams and shoulders from one side of selected carcasses will be fabricated into individual muscles. Muscles of significant size (0.5 pounds or larger) will be evaluated for the following properties: weight, dimensions, sensory properties, objective tenderness, color, pH, water-holding capacity, proximate composition, protein solubility, gel strength, pigment concentration, total collagen content and nutrient content.


Scientists and technical staff of Iowa State University, Michigan State University and the University of Wisconsin will cooperatively conduct this research.


Dr. Matt Doumit


Matthew E. Doumit earned a B.S. degree in Animal Science from Washington State University, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from South Dakota State University and Michigan State University, respectively. Matt worked for two years as a post-doctoral research associate in the Meats Research Unit at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, NE, where he studied factors influencing meat tenderness. In 1996, he joined the faculty at Michigan State University and is currently an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Animal Science and Food Science & Human Nutrition. Dr. Doumit has a 50% teaching and 50% research appointment. He teaches
courses in Animal Products, Meat Science and Muscle Biology, and Animal Growth. For his teaching efforts, Dr. Doumit was awarded the Outstanding Young Scientist Award in Teaching by the Midwestern Section of the American Society of Animal Science in 2000. Matt conducts research in the areas of muscle growth and meat quality. His primary focus is on biochemical regulation of meat color, water-holding capacity and tenderness.