Setting the bar

by Bryan Salvage
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Launched in 2000, Sterling Silver highly marbled and enhanced pork products leave Cargill plants in refrigerated form. Approximately 50 whole pork muscle cuts for retail and foodservice are offered. Pork plants producing these products are located in Ottumwa, Iowa, and Beardstown, Ill.

“Under this brand, we also have processed items, such as two flavors of bacon, spiral hams and pre-cooked and sauced baby back ribs,” says Matt Novitzke, associate brand manager, who is responsible for managing the pork portion of the brand.

Only the top 15 percent of hogs sourced from Midwest farms qualify to be sold under the brand as highly marbled or enhanced pork. This line of highly marbled pork features 50 percent more marbling than ordinary pork, which enhances flavor. As the marbling melts into the pork while it cooks, it builds more flavor, tenderness and juiciness for a rich taste.

Sterling Silver highly marbled pork is 100 percent all-natural with no added hormones, preservatives, fillers or additives. This gives chefs and culinary experts more control over their recipes without the risk of additives impacting the flavor. The pork line is available in a full range of traditional cuts, which are trimmed to 1/8” maximum or less. The enhanced line is guaranteed to be 36 percent more tender than regular pork.

All Sterling Silver pork is hand-selected to ensure consistent color, tenderness and juiciness. The highly marbled line adds hand-selection of marbling with certified marble graders, similar to beef grading. Proprietary marinade, applied through a high-quality enhancement technology, locks in moisture and sustains color brightness, which ensures tender, juicy results. Nine out of 10 consumers prefer the taste of enhanced pork to that of ordinary pork, Cargill consumer research reveals.

Sterling Silver pork products lead the industry in several areas developed to limit pH decline, which helps enhance the meat’s color, tenderness and juiciness. Cargill limits this decline through three steps: humane animal handling, CO2 stun technology and blast chilling.

Calm animals produce a more tender, delicious pork product. Cargill’s humane animal handling procedures minimize animal stress to maintain high quality. Cargill adheres to the animal-handling standards set by the American Meat Institute Foundation, the Humane Slaughter Act and animal handling expert Dr. Temple Grandin.

All processes are monitored and audited by federal inspectors, Cargill staff and third-party assessors, as well as through video auditing at both pork production facilities. All plant personnel are Learning and Assessment Management System-certified and receive more than 80 hours of animal-welfare training.

Cargill was one of the first major US pork processors to begin using CO2 stun technology. Only 50 percent of the industry’s processors currently use this more humane method, which minimizes animal stress and slows the decline of pH, resulting in more tender, juicy pork products.

Finally, blast chilling, which is performed early in the harvesting process and of which Cargill Pork is also a pioneer, enhances product tenderness and preserves the meat’s flavor and color.

“Sterling Silver beef and pork is the best brand Cargill has to offer and the best brand in the industry,” says Ozlem Worpel, Sterling Silver beef brand manager. “Sterling Silver Premium meats is truly the sum of its parts – a distinctive brand that meets the highest standards for quality and consistency, that demands the highest levels of accountability in its processes, and that settles for nothing less than first-class support of its exclusive list of customers.

“We’re excited and passionate about offering this premium brand. Despite the world economy, this brand is still growing year after year...that’s exciting,” she concludes.
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