Clean-Label Alternatives to Sodium Phosphates in Processed Meats
When food formulators, marketers, and processors are challenged with requests for clean-label statements one of the most valuable ingredients in terms of functionality and cost-effectiveness may be designated for removal: Sodium Phosphate.
Permitted at a usage level of no more than 0.5% in the final cooked processed meat, sodium phosphates are injected into whole muscle or added to ground or emulsified meats allowing moisture to be retained in the muscle fibers during cooking; resulting in a moister, better quality meat with higher cook yields. So why do meats lose moisture and get tougher and is there a cleaner label alternative to phosphates?
As fresh meat ages, pH changes (lactic acid buildup) and higher calcium levels cause the muscle tissue to lose moisture and to structurally collapse making the meat tougher and dryer. The addition of sodium phosphates acts to reverse the process by increasing the pH and chelating the calcium and thereby allowing the muscle tissue to open up and retain moisture.
Clean Label Phosphate Replacers
Historically, clean label phosphate replacement has been based primary on water binding capacity. Native starches like rice starch are very bland, and non-allergenic . The uniqueness of rice starch are that the rice granule size is very small (5 to 10 microns) and activate at lower cook temperatures. Rice starches are very effective in poultry products due to their light color and clean flavor. Citrus and vegetable-based fiber sources are able to hold alot of water without heating due to the minute hollow-tube structure of alpha cellulose. Traditionally proteins from meat (dry collegen),dairy, and plant sources are excellent complements or replacements to phosphates in improving meat yields. Isolated soy proteins and soy protein concentrates are the predominant products used in many processed meats due to their high solubility,clean flavor and maintainence of meat texture at economical extension levels. In addition, combinations of the above ingredients are used in blends or systems along with commonly accepted gums and buffering agents. All in all, selecting the proper product requires careful review of what is considered “clean” label by the formulator,marketer and ultimately the consumer.
Alternatively, unique ingredient combinations are now being used commercially to replace phosphates in meats that include fruit,vegetable or yeast extracts allowing the labelling recommendation as “natural flavorings” or as “yeast extract” as defined by the FDA and the Natural Food Industry. Recent studies have shown higher cook yields similar to STPP, as these well-investigated ingredients systems mimics phosphate by reducing water activity by bonding protein to water and increasing water binding capacity naturally. The result: A more natural meat texture.
If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of each of these clean label alternatives, contact your SPI Group representative for more information and samples.