Influence of Pig Genetics on the Technological and Sensory Quality of Bayonne Ham


J.P. Garnier1, J. Castaing2, B.C.  Fields3, A.A. Sosnicki3

¹P.I.C. Western Europe, Fyfield Wick, Oxon OX6 9QF, UK

² Association Générale des Producteurs de Maïs, Route de Pau, 64121 Montardon, France

3 P.I.C. USA, Franklin, KY  42134


The impact of pig genetics on curing yields and sensory quality of dry cured ham products of high importance in major European markets; i.e., Bayonne ham, is poorly understood. To make genetic decisions regarding breeding for meat (ham) quality possible, the effect of specific boar lines on processed product needs to be evaluated and related to consumer preferences.


This study compared two different boar lines (PIC and a non-PIC used as a control) for live performance, carcass and meat quality, technological yields and sensory quality characteristics of Bayonne ham produced from hams of their progeny. Four groups of 56 pigs were separated during finishing, for restricted and ad libitum feeding. The groups were statistically evened including sex and weight and evaluated for live performance and carcass quality. Four groups of 10 hams were selected for evaluation of meat quality characteristics, were cured, dried and aged 12 months according to Bayonne procedures (Consortium du Jambon de Bayonne, 1998). Weight losses at the different stages of the process were recorded and sensory analysis was conducted by Adour Bio Conseil of Arzacq, France, using 36 attributes (11 relating to slice presentation, 6 for the odor, 9 for the texture and 10 for the taste) of center ham.


Live performance and carcass lean percentage traits were similar for the two genotypes, while a higher slaughter yield was noted for PIC pigs (79.3% vs 78.8%). PIC progeny had more fat cover (+1.6mm in G1, +1.1mm in G2 and + 1.7mm in ham), and higher loin muscle depth (+2.3mm) compared to control pigs. Ham Gluteus medius muscle of the PIC progeny was lighter based on subjective Japanese Color Score (3.5 vs 4.0, for the PIC and control group, respectively). Salting losses were significantly lower for the PIC pigs compared to controls (5.94% vs. 9.29%).  Raw meat odor was less intense (1.10 vs 1.23), less spicy (0.42 vs 0.63) and less abnormal (0.60 vs 0.98) for PIC vs. control pigs. The texture of the Bayonne ham was less chewy (4.08 vs 3.88), more tender (3.67 vs 3.48), and less fibrous (1.53 vs 2.08), while the taste was less bitter (0.58 vs 0.80), less spicy (0.57 vs 0.88), and less abnormal (0.30 vs 0.88), for the PIC genotype vs. the control group.


These results clearly indicate that pig genetics influence maturation, flavor and texture development of dry-cured ham. This combined with differences in curing yields and sensory quality between the two commercial pig populations emphasizes the importance of pig breeding programs in fulfilling the consumer demands for high and consistent quality products.


Key Words: Genetics, curing yields, sensory quality, ham


2000 NSIF Proceedings