April 19, 2010
Winnipeg, ManitobaAs meat processors seek more effective ways to heighten food safety and eliminate pathogens, they are increasingly looking at high hydrostatic pressure (HHP) treatment to process and preserve their products. However, this process does affect the meats texture according to a recent review conducted by Canadian researchers at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, published in the Journal of Food Science.
A number of meat products are currently being sold across the globe, such as sliced ham, pork and poultry cuts and salami in Spain and cooked sliced meat and whole or portions of roasted chicken in the United States. HHP, also known as high pressure pasteurization, uses pressures of up to 100,000 psi to extend shelf life and destroy many foodborne pathogens such as Listeria, E. coli and Salmonella, with less effect on the finished product quality than conventional heat processing techniques. However, when used on meat products, the process can influence the conformation of the meat protein and cause protein denaturation, aggregation, or gelation, which can change the texture of the meat.
The results on the meat products texture depend on the meat protein system, as well as the pressure, temperature and length of the HHP treatmentthe meat can be either tenderized or toughened. HHP has minimal effect on the toughness of connective tissue, however it increases juiciness, springiness, and chewiness of the meat. If the treatment is done prerigor, HHP tenderizes but postrigor HHP treatment only produce a measurable effect when pressure and heat treatment are combined. In general, studies found that low pressure (less than 200 MPa) treatment can tenderize prerigor meat, but postrigor tenderization requires higher temperatures (40°C to 80°C). Some studies do show HHP can increase fat oxidation and change the meats color, giving it a cooked appearance. The researchers concluded that HHP treatment of meat shows promise, not only because of its ability to inactivate microorganisms and extend the shelf life of meat and meat products, but also as a means of tenderizing them.
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