What about PSE Meat?
PSE pork meat is a scourge in the Western Cape during the summer and using TG does not resolve PSE. An excellent article on an evaluation of factors impacting on meat quality in relation to PSE is Differentiation of pork longissimus dorsi muscle regarding the variation in water holding capacity and correlated traits.
It is possible to address PSE. The first option will be so source meat during the summer from non-Western Cape sources, but this presents difficulty for the farmers who are the backbone of the industry and may go against strategic alliances. A second strategy will be to work closely with farmers and the local abattoirs because much can be done pre and immediate post slaughtering. These are, however matters that are notoriously difficult to implement.
What can be done from a processing perspective? Motzer, Carpenter, Reynolds, and Lyon (1998) successfully used pale, soft and exudative pork to manufacture restructured hams. The problem with producing bacon from PSE meat is that “due to the rapid pH drop while muscle temperature remains high, the proteins in the myofibrillar fraction become partially denatured and lose their functionality. Denaturation of myosin in PSE muscle ultimately affects the water holding capabilities of the meat system. As a consequence, products manufactured with PSE may be expected to lose higher amounts of water.” (Motzer, et al., 2006) The unfortunate reality is that 100% PSE meat cannot be utilized in high quality processed products (Marriott, et al. 2006).
Motzer and coworkers (2006) report on Shand et al. (1994) who evaluated the effects of various levels of salt, temperature and kappa carrageenan on the bind of structured beef rolls and reported that as salt or levels of kappa carrageenan increased, the bind increased. They found that kappa carrageenan was the only binder different that when adequately solubilized improved adhesion of PSE meat.
As far as water holding capacity, they found that adding modified food starch (MFS) and isolated soy protein (ISP), enhanced the water holding capacity of hams produced from PSE pork meat. They noted that isolated soy protein (ISP) “resulted in a thicker adhesion than normal for the meat pieces. Manual stuffing became difficult and often resulted in air pockets within the meat log.” (Motzer, et al., 2006) This will, however, be overcome by a proper press system.
Even though there were improvements in the ham, the fact remained that “due to loss of structural integrity, PSE meat will lose considerable water “, especially after thermal processing. Most of the water is released due to the partially denatured myofibrillar proteins.” (Motzer, et al., 2006)
The complete article can be found at PSE Meat Treatment. Without reformulating a brine for the summer in Cape Town, incorporating kappa carrageenan, MFS, and ISP, losses in bacon production will remain material for pork procured locally. It will manifest in excessive purge in the final product stage, excessive moisture loss during and after thermal processing and poor binding of restructured parts of the bacon logs.
Of course, a strategy will be to produce ham with the badly affected meat. “Motzer et al. (1998) revealed that utilizing 50% PSE pork in a restructured product with either modified food starch or carrageenan yielded better quality pork than 100% PSE treatments. Schilling et al. (2002) later demonstrated that combining 25% PSE and 75% RFN (red, firm, and non-exudative) pork in a chunked and formed ham was similar in quality to a 100% RFN pork sample when soy protein concentrate and modified food starch were incorporated together at 2 and 1.5%, respectively. Similarly, Torley et al., (2000) reported that increasing the ionic strength and utilization of polyphosphates resulted in increased cooking yield similar to that of a product manufactured from RFN pork.” (Marriott, et al. 2006)
It is my suggestion that all these be tested in a summer mix of products to compensate for the extraordinary level of PSE prevalent in regions like the Western Cape during the summer. “This research makes it clear that PSE pork can be incorporated into processed products, but it can be unsatisfactory to use formulations with more than 25% PSE. Samples formulated with 25% PSE pork exhibit acceptable texture, but those formulated with 75 or 100% PSE often sustain cracking.” (Marriott, et al. 2006) This relates to cooked hams. Bacon is a different matter and mixing PSE and non-PSE meat cannot be part of the solution. Producing hams instead of bacon with such meat is an option.
The bottom line is that solutions exist and an effective strategy is possible but will require focus and cooperation.
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