Awide array of food ingredients allow food formulators to provide processed meats with different textures. The functional properties of carrageenans, including their ability to bind water and to form gels at a very low concentration, have made them a hydrocolloid of choice for injected meats. Carrageenans work synergistically with meat proteins to help improve mouthfeel and moisture binding, decrease purge and improve meats' slicing properties.

Initially, gelling extracts were developed to improve the final texture of meat applications. Their effect was focused on controlling purge and reducing cooking losses. These refined carrageenans were very suitable for use at high injection levels, providing the hardness and texture meats require. A number of market factors resulted in manufacturers focusing more on price. Thus, the way was paved for integrating Processed Euchema Seaweeds (PES) into processed meat.

PES are alkali-treated, processed ground seaweed. Due to a less sophisticated and economical manufacturing process, they respond well to cost concerns in segments where the higher quality of an extract is not required. Today, the use of PES is at least as important as the use of refined carrageenans. As one of the world's largest manufacturers of carrageenans, the Texturant Systems business line of Degussa Food Ingredients is serving the meat industry with both product categories.

Comprehensive product ranges are offered both for carrageenan extracts and semi-refined carrageenans, under the Satiagel[tm] RPI series and the Aubygel[tm] RPI series, respectively.

There is a growing trend towards convenience foods. In response, many manufacturers have created pre-packaged, sliced meat products requiring good sliceability and a better control of syneresis. However, today's consumers also prefer more succulent and softer textures, especially in low-injected products. Again, a new generation of carrageenans has come into play: ones that allow better syneresis control, support longer shelflife, and provide less brittle and hard textures.

For a long time, kappa-type carrageenans were used primarily in meats. These are polysaccharides with one sulfite group per two sugar units that form a thermo-reversible, brittle gel. Additionally, iota- and lambda-type carrageenans are used to form elastic gels, or are used as thickeners with differing properties in terms of thixotropy, thermo-reversibility and solubility. The chart “Viscosity Change” demonstrates the different behaviors of kappa- and iota-type carrageenans that typically occur during cooking of injected products.

Taking advantage of the numerous possibilities differing carrageenans offer, developers can present meat products that precisely respond to specific consumer demands. The challenge lies in finding the right balance between different gelling characteristics. The afore-mentioned products are available as part of the Satiagel[tm] RPS series from Degussa Food Ingredients, business line Texturant Systems.

For more information:

Texturant Systems of Degussa Food Ingredients

Bruce Gubser, 770-455-3603