Think outside the chops
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.