Determining Pork Quality
Pork Color and Marbling Standards
The quality of fresh pork can vary greatly based on a number of factors. The quality levels shown below look different, taste different when cooked, and perform differently when brining, curing or smoking. High quality pork is worth more than lower quality pork. Quality can be evaluated through simple visual appraisal, or it can be determined more precisely with scientific tests such as measuring the meats ability to refract light, ultimate pH of the meat, or tenderness using the Warner-Brasseler shear test. Taste and preference studies have shown that fresh, whole muscle pork delivers a tender, juicy eating experience when it falls into the Reddish pink, Firm and Non-exudative color, texture and exudation measurements. Some degree of intramuscular fat or marbling can also improve the flavor and moisture of the meat.
This chart may be used to help identify variations in pork quality. Color and Marbling Standards cards are also available.
COLOR - TEXTURE - EXUDATION
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.
DFD: Dark purplish red, very Firm and Dry. Firm and sticky surface, high water-holding capacity.
Minolta L* values use D65 daylight light source.
Pale pinkish gray
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Dark reddish pink
Marbling scores correspond to a percentage of intramuscular lipid content.
Higher quality pork will always perform better in the kitchen. It provides a better flavor and texture experience for customers, and better value for the restaurant.