Today’s consumers want premium meats with fewer or no additives and preservatives. They also want meal preparation to not be complicated, messy or stressful.


That was the inspiration behind the development of a line of seasoned ground beef products from Thomas Foods International USA, Swedesboro, New Jersey. Sold in 1-lb. packs in the refrigerated meat counter, the ground beef products are seasoned and recipe ready. Consumers simply follow the easy on-pack recipe or get creative with their own variation. The six flavors are: Bold Chipotle, Caramelized Onion, Chili (available organic), Korean BBQ, Sriracha and Taco.


Adding seasonings to uncooked meat and poultry is not new but has not been particularly common because of some of the challenges encountered, especially in extended shelf life products. For starters, many seasonings contain dried herbs, which when hydrated — from the water in the raw meat — begin to break down. They might change color or disintegrate. Particle size of the seasoning is also an important consideration, as visual appeal in the package often influences purchase. The pH of the system must be considered. Some seasonings, such as lemon pepper or lime chipotle, may be quite acidic. Too much acidity can lead to undesirable protein denaturation.


There are technical challenges with applying seasoning to meat and poultry products. These depend on the final product. With ground and comminuted products, such as meatballs and sausages, for example, seasonings may be incorporated during mixing as direct additions. With marinated products, the seasoning system has to be dispersed via brines and marinades, and further be dispersible in muscle tissues. It is important to deliver consistent flavor throughout.


Hatfield Quality Meats, Hatfield, Pennsylvania, is a leader in the marinated and seasoned pork tenderloin category. The company credits this convenience sector for being a major driver of retail pork sales. Some of the company’s recent flavor innovations include cracked black pepper, honey garlic teriyaki and sweet sriracha.


The company also offers dry rubbed and seasoned pork filets, roasts and ribs. Its newest offerings are Honey Garlic Teriyaki St. Louis Ribs and Savory Brown Sugar St. Louis Ribs.