Harvest

A large number of coordinated events must take place to successfully facilitate the conversion of a market hog into a safe and wholesome product. First and foremost, the animal must be humanely harvested in accordance with the Humane Slaughter Act of 1958 and the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act of 1978. Currently, the majority of market hogs sold in the United States are stunned (rendered unconscious and insensible to pain) via an electric stunning wand or by carbon dioxide anesthesia prior to exsanguination (bleeding), yet captive bolt stunners, compressed air concussion devices, and firearms are also approved stunning methods. Exsanguination is accomplished by making a small incision adjacent to the sternum, severing the carotid arteries, the jugular vein, and the anterior vena cava. This process is an essential step in the conversion of muscle to meat, altering the muscle's biochemical and physical properties and improving the keeping quality and acceptability of the product. Following exsanguination, the carcass is immersed in hot water (approximately 136 143°F), a process that converts the collagen that surrounds the hair follicle into gelatin so that the hair can be removed by either manual scraping or with a commercial dehairing ma-chine.[3] Next, the head is removed at the atlas joint (in most instances), the bung is loosened, and the carcass is eviscerated. Evisceration consists of: 1) splitting the sternum and aitch bone; 2) loosening the gastrointestinal tract and liver; 3) cutting the diaphragm; and 4) removing the gastrointestinal tract, lungs, heart, and esophagus. The carcass is then split down the center of the vertebral column into two halves; trimmed of any blood clots,

Belly Spareribs Picnic Shoulder Front Foot

Belly Spareribs Picnic Shoulder Front Foot

Belly Spareribs Picnic Shoulder Front Foot

Hind Foot

Loin

Boston Butt

Hind Foot

Loin

Boston Butt

Fig. 1 Six major wholesale cuts for pork. (View this art in color at www.dekker.com.)

Hind Foot

Loin

Boston Butt

Hind Foot

Loin

Boston Butt

Belly Spareribs Picnic Shoulder Front Foot

Fig. 1 Six major wholesale cuts for pork. (View this art in color at www.dekker.com.)

of muscle fibers within a given muscle to improve the palatability of the retail product.[3]

If processed in accordance with the appropriate industry guidelines specifically, the Institutional Meat Purchasing Specifications (IMPS) a pork carcass can be segmented into six major wholesale cuts (ham, loin, Boston butt, picnic shoulder, spareribs, and belly) as shown in Fig. 1. Of these wholesale cuts and their associated lean trimmings, pork can be further processed via a variety of innovative techniques to add value to an existing commodity. It is commonly accepted that 75% of the fresh pork carcass is further processed to add value to the final pork product. Such techniques consist of but are not limited to: deboning, cutting, grinding, chopping, emulsifying, pumping, curing, drying, and smoking.

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