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DETERMINING PORK QUALITY

Pork Color And Marbling Standards

Higher quality pork performs better in the kitchen. It delivers better flavor and texture for customers, and better value for the restaurant. The quality of fresh pork depends on its color, texture and marbling, and can be evaluated by visual appraisal or through scientific tests like the meat’s light refraction, ultimate pH or the Warner-Bratzler shear test of tenderness. Taste and preference studies show that fresh whole muscle pork is more tender and juicy when it falls in the Reddish-Pink, Firm and Non-exudative category, and intramuscular fat or marbling can also improve pork’s flavor and moisture. The quality levels shown below look different, taste different when cooked, and perform differently when brined, cured or smoked.

This chart may be used to help identify variations in pork quality. Color and Marbling Standards cards are also available. To request cards please contact foodservice@pork.org.

COLOR – TEXTURE – EXUDATION

PSE: Pale pinkish gray, very Soft and Exudative. Undesirable appearance and shrinks excessively.
PSE: Pale pinkish gray, very Soft and Exudative. Undesirable appearance and shrinks excessively.
RFN: Reddish pink, Firm and Non-exudative. IDEAL. Desirable color, firmness and water-holding capacity.
RFN: Reddish pink, Firm and Non-exudative. IDEAL. Desirable color, firmness and water-holding capacity.
DFD: Dark purplish red, very Firm and Dry. Firm and sticky surface, high water-holding capacity.

 

COLOR STANDARDS

Marbling scores correspond to a percentage of intramuscular lipid content.
1.0  Pale pinkish gray to white  61*
1.0
Pale pinkish gray to white
61*
2.0<br />  Grayish-pink<br />  55*
2.0
Grayish-pink
55*
3.0<br />  Grayish-pink<br />  49*
3.0
Grayish-pink
49*

 

4.0<br />  Dark reddish pink<br />  43*
4.0
Dark reddish pink
43*
5.0<br />  Purplish-red<br />  37*
5.0
Purplish-red
37*
6.0 Dark purplish-red 31*
6.0
Dark purplish-red
31*

MARBLING STANDARDS

Marbling scores correspond to a percentage of intramuscular lipid content.
1.0
1.0

 

2.0
2.0
3.0
3.0
4.0
4.0
5.0
5.0
6.0
6.0
10.0
10.0