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Taste test of high-pressure products vs. conventional preservation

WASHINGTON—Nearly two dozen staff members in the Washington offices of Knight Ridder and Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services sampled 15 varieties of deli meat, grilled chicken and guacamole. The samples, grouped by type, were identified only by numbers.

Unknown to the tasters, each group of samples included one or more products preserved with a new high-pressure system. The rest relied on conventional chemical additives.

Tasters rated samples for taste, appearance, texture and aftertaste, using a 1-to-5 scale, 5 being tops. Then they said how much they'd pay for each product.

Results varied, but the pressure-treated foods did quite well.

Below are the average scores for the most significant indicators: taste and price per pound. Foods preserved under high pressure are in capital letters. They included samples of deli ham and turkey provided by Hormel, which are sold to schools and hospitals but not in supermarkets.

The number of tasters for each item typically was between 10 and 15, because while tasters agreed to try all samples in each group, they decided how many groups they'd taste.

_ Sliced ham

Sara Lee cooked ham: Taste: 3.5. Expected price: $4.75.

HORMEL COOKED HAM: Taste: 3.25. Expected price: $4.08.

Oscar Mayer's smoked ham: Taste: 3. Expected price: $4.

Oscar Mayer's cooked ham: Taste: 2, Expected price: $2.50.

_ Sliced turkey breast

Jordan's turkey breast: Taste: 3.3. Expected price: $3.70.

HORMEL TURKEY: Taste: 3.1. Expected price: $3.86.

Primo Taglio turkey, a Safeway house brand: Taste: 2.3. Expected price: $3.33.

Oscar Mayer's turkey: Taste: 2.1. Expected price: $3.55.

_ Guacamole

AVOCLASSIC: Taste: 3.9. Expected price: $4.15.

Fresh (Safeway) Haas avocado: Taste: 3.4. Expected price: $3.78.

Calvado guacamole, mild: Taste: 2.1. Expected price: $2.93.

_ Grilled chicken

PERDUE HONEY-ROASTED CHICKEN BREASTS: Taste: 3.4. Expected price: $5.15.

Tyson Southwestern flavor chicken breasts: Taste: 3.3. Expected price: $4.68.

Louis Rich honey-roasted chicken breasts: Taste: 2.9. Expected price: $3.95.

PERDUE SOUTHWESTERN FLAVOR CHICKEN BREASTS: Taste: 2.3. Expected price: $3.35.

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(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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