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Meat Products

Vegetable proteins have been used very effectively by manufacturers of meat products and meat preparations for many years to achieve discernible benefits which help to meet the demand of consumers for tasty and nutritious foodstuffs at affordable prices.

In general terms, vegetable proteins can normally be incorporated into processed meat products using existing equipment. When used in meat products, vegetable proteins maintain or may even improve their nutritional characteristics since vegetable proteins contain significant amounts of the essential amino acids, as demonstrated by their high Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Scores (PDCAAS) and they also contain no cholesterol. Use of sustainable vegetable protein will also extend limited meat supplies whilst using less of the earth’s valuable resources to feed growing populations.

There is a wide range of vegetable protein ingredients that can be used in meat applications, and by choosing the correct vegetable protein, meat product manufacturers can control the texture and mouthfeel of their products whilst improving yields, reducing cooking losses and making their products more appealing.

Emulsified Meat Products (such as hot dogs and mortadella)

Isolated soya proteins and functional soya concentrates are amongst the options that should be considered.These products can bind fat or oil into the product, reducing unsightly fat losses and helping to maintain a succulent mouthfeel whilst contributing to the texture by enhancing the initial “bite”. They perform in a similar manner to salt soluble myofibrillar meat proteins in that they will bind water and form a structure within the product, but can offer economic advantages over skeletal meats.

The vegetable proteins can be incorporated into the formulation using various techniques depending upon the equipment available and the raw materials used in the recipe, but their addition could be, for example, as a pre-formed gel, or by dispersing the protein in water as the first stage of manufacture, or as a pre-formed cold fat emulsion or even just by dry addition of the vegetable protein.

Ground Meat Products (such as meat patties, doner kebabs, coarse ground sausages and chilli con carne).

Many options for inclusion of vegetable proteins are available for these applications.Functional proteins, such as isolated soya proteins and functional soya concentrates are often incorporated to improve cooking losses and mouthfeel – helping to maintain succulence – as well as to enhance the visual appearance of the products.

Vegetable proteins can also be pre-structured in various ways, the most common being to extrude them through a small die at high temperature and pressure. Typically textured soya flours or textured soya concentrates are used in ground meat products, but frequently meat manufacturers also consider textured pea or textured wheat proteins for these applications. The resulting extruded proteins can have a structure and appearance which is similar to minced or diced meat and so is easily incorporated into ready meals, meat patties, kebabs etc.  In these products the extruded vegetable protein (normally referred to as textured vegetable protein, textured defatted soya flour or textured soya concentrate) is used to improve the cooking characteristics of the finished product by binding moisture into it (thereby reducing unsightly cook losses or shrinkage), improving the final appearance, and ensuring succulence whilst imparting a typical ground meat product texture.

Whole Muscle Meat Products (such as cooked ham, cooked turkey breast and roast beef)

Normal production methods for these products involve either injecting the large meat prices with a brine, or by use of mechanical marinating techniques, or a combination of the two techniques .

Functional vegetable proteins not only have the ability to bind water into the finished, cooked products thereby increasing the final yield and ensuring succulence, but can also improve the structure of the products making them easier to slice on modern high speed slicing equipment.

Typically isolated soya proteins or functional soya concentrates are added to the injection brine or marinade. These vegetable proteins are specifically designed not to create foams but to disperse easily in water using relatively low shear equipment, and stay in suspension whilst the brine is incorporated into the meat product. The vegetable proteins used are of sufficiently low viscosity and small particle size to pass through the narrow needles of modern multi-needle injection machines.

Due to their high protein content and also their excellent nutritional quality (high PDCAAS), vegetable proteins can improve the cooked yield, slicing and eating characteristics whilst also maintaining the nutritional quality of the finished products.