A study was conducted to evaluate the quality and sensory properties of protected designation of origin (PDO) Parma ham and Piacentina neck obtained from heavy pigs (Italian Duroc x Italian Large White) fed barley-based diets. Four diets were tested: 1) a corn-based diet (control), 2) the control diet with 80% of a normal-amylose hulled barley variety (Cometa), 3) the control diet with 80% of a normal-amylose hulless barley variety (Astartis), and 4) the control diet with 80% of a low-amylose hulless barley variety (Alamo). All the meat products were analyzed for physicochemical and color parameters. The drycured hams and necks were also evaluated for sensory properties. The data of physicochemical, color, and sensory parameters were separately analyzed by multivariate factor analysis, and interpretation of each extracted factor was based on specific original variables loading on each one. The meat products obtained from pigs fed the barley-based diets differed from those obtained from the control pigs on the PUFA factors characterized by C18:2n-6 and omega-3: omega-6 ratio. In particular, the meat products obtained from pigs fed the barley-based diets had a lower content of C18:2n-6 and a higher omega-3: omega-6 ratio (P < 0.05) than the control. In fresh hams, iodine number and SFA (C16:0 and C18:0) in addition to PUFA and omega-3:omega-6 ratio loaded on the PUFA/SFA factor. The fresh hams produced from pigs fed the barley-based diets had subcutaneous fat (SC) with a lower iodine number and a higher SFA level compared with those produced from the control pigs (P < 0.05). A sex effect was measured for PUFA/SFA and oleic acid factors. In particular, the barrow SC had a lower SFA content, higher PUFA and C18:1n-9cis levels, and a higher iodine number (P < 0.05) than the gilt SC. There were no appreciable differences in the color and sensory properties of meat products obtained from pigs fed the different diets. The hams from barrows differed from those obtained from gilts on the lean properties factor describing properties related to aspect and odor of dry-cured hams. Indeed, the hams from barrows were depreciated compared with the hams from gilts for minor intensity, brightness, and uniformity of the lean, pinkish intermuscular fat and cured odor. In conclusion, barley could be used as a replacement for corn in heavy pig diets for the production of PDO Italian products without negative effects on the physicochemical, color, or sensory characteristics of meat products.
- Heavy pigs