Regulations and guidelines
Juicing up meat comes with some federal guidelines and limitations. This is in terms of both how much moisture can be added to the product, how addition is declared and the addition of ingredients to assist or complement the added moisture.
“One example is the limit of 3 percent added water to fresh sausage,” says Patrick Hosch, applications research manager, Essentia Protein Solutions, Ankeny, Iowa. “Cooked sausages are limited to 10 percent added water. Bacon is usually injected with a brine then smoked and heat treated. By rule, bacon must lose the added weight of brine and be back to its original weight prior to sale. Products like roast beef or fresh pork loin may claim that a certain percentage of a solution is included at the time of sale.”
Regarding declaration of the enhancement, the US Dept. of Agriculture published a rule in 2011 requiring enhanced product to declare on package labels that percentage of added solution. This rule went into effect in 2014.
“The legal limits of moisture and ingredient addition vary by product,” Putnam says. “Some are regulated by protein content of the cooked product (controlling the protein content dilution by the additional moisture), some by yield of cooked versus uncooked product, and some only by the amount of binder allowed to hold the added moisture, which itself becomes limited by the ability of the meat and binder to hold the added moisture.”
Jim Anderson, regional market segment lead, North America-meat, poultry and seafood, ICL Food Specialties, St. Louis, says, “Phosphates are arguably the most effective functional ingredient for moisture retention in the meat and poultry arena.”
Their usage level is quite low, often less than 0.5 percent of the formula weight. That little amount goes a long way in terms of increasing yield and improving economics.
“Sodium and potassium phosphates modify pH,” says Barbara Heidolph, director technology, Innophos Inc., Cranbury, New Jersey. “They directly interact with the muscle, specifically with the myofibrillar proteins, to dissociate the acto-mysosin complex cross-bridges.”
This unravels the protein structure, opening charged sites for water to bind.
“Phosphates also interact synergistically with salt to create a net negative charge, which by electrostatic repulsion, drives away the already dissociated actin and myosin,” Heidolph says. “This effect creates more charged sites for water to bind. This action improves the succulence and savory characteristics of meat and poultry products.
“Neutral and acidic phosphates also act as cure color enhancers. Acidic salts used at a very low amount have a negative impact on the water-holding capacity of the muscle. A more alkaline phosphate generally raises the pH 0.2 to 0.3 pH units away from the meat’s isoelectric point, around 5.2. Increasing the meat pH away from the isoelectric point consequently increases the muscles water-holding capacity.”