Phosphates have a wide range of functions when used in meat systems. They enhance textural properties (firmness) by improving moisture retention; work synergistically with salt to increase protein extraction; and, by adjusting pH, improve whiteness in poultry and redness in cured products.

Gene Brotsky, senior technical service representative at Innophos Inc., a leader in using phosphates to improve meat functionality, explained several functional properties of phosphates in meat systems during his presentation titled “‘Meat’ New Trends with Innovative Phosphates,” at the 2007 Prepared Foods’ R&D Applications Seminar-Chicago.

Among the products that are available for use in formulating meat products is Curafos StabilColor (trisodium pyrophosphate). This unique product has a pH of approximately 7.0, which is intermediate to sodium acid pyrophosphate, which has a pH of 4.3, and tetrasodium pyrophosphate, which is very basic—weighing in at a pH of 10.4. Stabilcolor has good solubility and an excellent ability to chelate iron. It will also extract protein at lower pHs, is cost effective and provides excellent texture and yields when used in sausages. The product also meets E.U. regulations and has been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for meats as of April 22, 2003. When used in label declarations in the U.S., it is labeled as “sodium phosphate.”

Phosphates may be used in combination or singly to obtain optimum results. For example, Curafos OptiBalance (sodium tripolyphosphate and trisodium pyrophosphate) enhances yields in hams at lower usage levels. In turkey breast, Curafos ColorSure (a tripoly and pyrophosphate blend) may be used to enhance color by adjusting the pH. At a pH of 8.1, color is whiter than a formulation using tripoly at a pH of 10. There is no significant “graying” of the meat, which may occur when using highly alkaline phosphates. Tricalcium phosphate is another one of the phosphate family that may be used to achieve whiter poultry meat in poultry products. When used in chicken or turkey products, its use results in a whiter end product. Tricalcium phosphate also imparts no flavors to the products in which it is used and is approved for use in ground poultry by the U.S. Department of Agriculture at levels of up to 1.5%. Whiter color is more noticeable when one examines products formulated with ColorSure combined with the tricalcium phosphate product.

Phosphates with pH values at 8.6 (Curafos OptiBalance) and 9.3 (Curafos OptiBind) may be used in deli hams or chicken breasts. Benefits include higher cook yields, improved binding, less loss during storage and improved color. Potential users are advised to work closely with their vendors to select the best individual phosphates or modified systems for their products. Doing so can result in significant savings of time and effort. Go to the experts to find the best product or system.

—Richard F. Stier, Contributing Editor

For more information:

INNOPHOS,  Cranbury, N.J.
Gene Brotsky, 609-366-1233