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Serving: United States

Pork is Really Getting Leaner

In the never-ending contest over white meats, pork scores a victory.

There's a nutritional battle being waged on your dinner plate. Pork producers squared off against the chicken industry years ago and started a long, and determined, process to make the product leaner. Turns out, it worked.

In an announcement made today at the International Food Technology event in Orlando, Fla., USDA and the National Pork Board announced that the tasty pork tenderloin is as lean as the leanest type of chicken - a skinless chicken breast. A USDA analysis announced during a conference call this afternoon found that trimmed, cooked pork tenderloin contains only 2.98 grams of fat per 3-ounce serving, compared to 3.03 grams of fat in a 3-ounce serving of cooked skinless chicken breast.

Danita Rodibaugh, National Pork Board president, notes that these finding are "exciting for consumers and pork producers." She adds that on average "the six most common cust of pork are now 16% leaner than 15 years ago, and saturated fat has dropped 27%."

The new Pork Checkoff-funded study was a collaborative effort conducted by scientists at USDA, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Maryland. The objective was to compare the nutrient data for fresh pork from 1991 to 2005. The last time USDA conducted an analysis of pork was 1991, according to a Pork Board press statement.

The test was set up using nine common cuts of fresh pork from a national representative sampling of retail stores in 12 different markets around the country. This is the basic sampling method required in USDA's National Food and Nutrient Analysis Program sampling plan. Researchers then analyzed the cuts of pork for calories, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, vitamins and minerals.

Researchers found that total fat and saturated fat decreased in six lean cuts of pork. But some nutrients - such as Vitamin B6 and niacin actually rose, and pork contains no trans fat. The new data will replace existing nutrient values for pork in USDA's 2007 National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. This database is used by researchers, registered dietitians, school foodservice directors and other health professionals to plan menus and analyze an individual's nutrient uptake.

Of the nine cuts analyzed, six of the pork cuts announced by the government have a nutritional profile that meets USDA guidelines for "lean,•bCrLf with less than 10 grams fat, 4.5 grams saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 3-ounce serving.  Pork tenderloin continues to meet government guidelines for "extra lean,•bCrLf which requires less than 5 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol per serving.  The other cuts include the pork boneless top loin chop, the pork boneless top loin roast, the pork center loin chop, the pork center rib chop and the pork bone-in sirloin roast. Even ribs are getting leaner, according to the Pork Board, as the industry has worked to get the fat out of its product for decades. The effort is paying off.

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