Animal Science Department


Date of this Version

January 2002


Published in 2002 Nebraska Swine Report, compiled by Duane Reese, Extension Swine Specialist, Department of Animal Science, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Published by Cooperative Extension Division, Agricultural Research Division, and Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.


The objective of this study was to determine the effects of genetic line, diet, sex, slaughter weight and location within the slab on the proximate composition and color of bacon lean and fat. Bacon slabs manufactured from bellies of 756 barrows and gilts of six different genetic lines equally distributed among four feeding regimes, with differing lysine levels, and three weight groups and processed into sliced retail bacon (nine slices/inch) were used. Sliced bacon slabs were divided into five equally sized sections and two bacon slices were taken from the anterior end of each for machine vision and proximate analyses. All treatments were found to have an effect on fat color, lean color and proximate composition of bacon (P<0.05). Genetic line had the greatest effect on bacon composition. Bacon with increased fat tended to have whiter colored fat, suggesting a link between the two attributes. Decreased dietary lysine and increased slaughter weights both led to fatter bacon slabs with whiter colored fat. Bacon produced from barrows, in comparison to gilts, and from fatter genetic lines also had lighter colored fat. Fat cell hypertrophy in fatter animals may lead to increased fat cell volume and a subsequent decrease in the concentrations of intracellular organelles and cell wall components, per unit of tissue, resulting in whiter colored fat. It appears that a number of factors combine to affect lean color as each animal production parameter in this study affected lean color in a different way. While values were statistically different between treatments (P <0.05), results from this study show bacon lean and fat color to be relatively consistent across treatments. Means for each were classified toward “paler” and “whiter” ends of the color scale used in this study. Understanding quality attributes of the very valuable sliced bacon market is crucial to producer understanding of the value-added component bacon contributes to the value of the pig in the marketplace.