Think out­side the chops

The Glengarry News - Glengarry Supplement - - News -

A 2015 Ip­sos sur­vey found that 61 per cent of con­sumers can name pork chops when asked about which cuts they’re aware of, with pork ten­der­loin and ribs fol­low­ing close be­hind. But pork belly? Shoul­der roasts? Ground pork? Not so much.

Over the past year, On­tario Pork has been work­ing to de­liver ed­u­ca­tion and pro­mo­tional out­reach ac­tiv­i­ties aimed at in­creas­ing the depth and breadth of On­tar­i­ans’ food lit­er­acy as it re­lates to pork.

The em­pha­sis in 2017 is to ed­u­cate the pub­lic on the use of un­der-uti­lized pork cuts such as legs and shoul­ders. Greater fa­mil­iar­ity with these cuts and cook­ing meth­ods will help to drive con­sump­tion at re­tail, which will pro­mote higher car­cass uti­liza­tion and less waste. This re­sults in bet­ter re­turns for both re­tail­ers and pro­ces­sors.

Think Out­side the Chops is a cam­paign to ed­u­cate, in­spire, and have some fun with cuts other than the Big 3 (chops, ten­der­loin, and ribs).

Don’t over­cook pork!

To­day hogs are raised in scrupu­lously hy­gienic con­di­tions, but mem­o­ries rooted in his­tory per­sist. Con­sumers, and even a few chefs, still be­lieve that un­less pork is cooked to “well done” it is un­safe. The ori­gin of this myth is the now ob­so­lete fear of Trichi­nosis, a par­a­site that lives in the earth and oc­ca­sion­ally in­fected hogs in the days when they for­aged freely. Trichi­nosis is no longer a prob­lem in do­mes­tic hog pro­duc­tion. There have been no re­ported cases in decades. This par­a­site is killed at 137˚F (58˚C), the tem­per­a­ture of rare roast beef and well be­low the rec­om­mended fi­nal in­ter­nal tem­per­a­ture for pork, 160˚F (70˚C).

Mis­placed anx­i­ety about Trichi­nosis is prob­a­bly the root cause of the in­grained habit of over-cook­ing pork.

Cana­di­ans are choos­ing pork more of­ten. It is true that a num­ber of faiths, and veg­e­tar­i­ans, do not eat pork. How­ever, there is also a huge ma­jor­ity of peo­ple who do en­joy pork.

Ribs, chops, and pro­cessed pork in the form of hams and ba­con re­main pop­u­lar, and re­tail sales of fresh pork have been steadily climb­ing. But fresh pork in gen­eral is un­der-rep­re­sented in food ser­vice.

Hog pro­duc­ers’ liveli­hoods are de­pen­dent on the qual­ity of hogs that they pro­duce on their farms. To pro­duce Cana­dian Pork of the high­est pos­si­ble qual­ity for con­sumers, the Cana­dian Qual­ity As­sur­ance (CQA) pro­gram was de­vel­oped un­der the gen­eral prin­ci­ples of the HACCP (Haz­ard Anal­y­sis Crit­i­cal Con­trol Point) sys­tem. This is an in­ter­na­tional science-based sys­tem that was orig­i­nally de­vel­oped to guar­an­tee the safety of food con­sumed by NASA as­tro­nauts. Pro­ces­sors are do­ing their part by im­ple­ment­ing HACCP sys­tems in their plants and are now look­ing to their sup­pli­ers to put in place sim­i­lar sys­tems in or­der to have qual­ity as­sur­ance pro­grams through­out ev­ery step of pro­duc­tion, from the farm right through to the con­sumer.

Of­fi­cially launched in 1998, the CQA pro­gram is now well es­tab­lished in all Cana­dian Pork Coun­cil mem­ber prov­inces.

The ma­jor­ity of Cana­dian hogs are now pro­duced un­der this pro­gram.

In this in­creas­ingly com­pet­i­tive global mar­ket, pro­duc­ers are pre­pared to make a clear com­mit­ment to qual­ity.

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