Meat quality characteristics of pork bellies in relation to fat level

  • Hoa, Van-Ba (National Institute of Animal Science, Rural Development Administration) ;
  • Seol, Kuk-Hwan (National Institute of Animal Science, Rural Development Administration) ;
  • Seo, Hyun-Woo (National Institute of Animal Science, Rural Development Administration) ;
  • Seong, Pil-Nam (National Institute of Animal Science, Rural Development Administration) ;
  • Kang, Sun-Moon (National Institute of Animal Science, Rural Development Administration) ;
  • Kim, Yun-Seok (National Institute of Animal Science, Rural Development Administration) ;
  • Moon, Sung-Sil (Sunjin Meat Research Center) ;
  • Kim, Jin-Hyoung (National Institute of Animal Science, Rural Development Administration) ;
  • Cho, Soo-Hyun (National Institute of Animal Science, Rural Development Administration)
  • Received : 2020.08.31
  • Accepted : 2020.12.16
  • Published : 2021.10.01


Objective: Pork belly is considered as the most commercially important and preferable primal cut by consumers worldwide. Thus, this study was conducted to determine the effects of fat levels on the meat quality characteristics of pork bellies. Methods: Seventy-eight growing-finishing pigs collected from different commercial pig farms were slaughtered and used in the present study. After slaughter 24 h, bellies were fabricated according to the Korean Pork Cutting Specification, and immediately sampled for analysis of their fat content. Based on the fat levels, the bellies were segregated into three different groups: low fat (LF, fat ≤20%, n = 15), medium fat (MF, fat 21% to 30%, n = 30), and high fat (HF, fat ≥31%, n = 33). The bellies were then analyzed for meat quality traits, fatty acids, flavor compounds and eating quality properties. Results: The HF group had lower moisture and cooking loss levels compared to the other groups (p<0.05). The LF group presented higher proportions of polyunsaturated fatty acids compared to the other groups (p<0.05). The LF group showed higher amounts of the Maillard reaction-derived flavor compounds (e.g., 2,5-dimethyl pyrazine, 2-ethyl-3,5-dimethyl, and 4-methylthiazole) associated with meaty and roasty flavors whereas, the HF group showed higher amounts of oleic acid- derived compounds (e.g., nonanal and octanal) associated with the fatty and oily flavors. Interestingly, significantly higher scores for all the eating quality attributes (flavor, juiciness, tenderness, and overall acceptance) were found in the HF group compared to those in the LF or MF group (p<0.05). Conclusion: The high-fat bellies (fat ≥31%) had a better technological quality and eating quality compared to the low-fat bellies (fat ≤20%). Thus, increasing the fat content may improve the technological quality and eating quality traits of pork bellies, however, this increase may also result in more trimmed loss due to excessively deposited body fat.



This study was supported by 2020-Postdoctoral Fellowship Program of National Institute of Animal Science (Project No. PJ01212502), Rural Development Administration, Republic of Korea.


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