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Meat + Poultry Highlights Innophos Solutions for Ensuring Succulence

Animal proteins are inherently large, highly structured molecules. This prevents them from interacting with water or other compounds in a formulation. There are a range of ingredients that may assist with tricking these large proteins into assisting with holding moisture.

When animal protein is at its iso-electric point (about pH 5.1), it does not bind water very well. However, when meat protein is charged, it attracts water and binds it. Protein gets charged by lowering or raising its pH. That’s one of the functions of phosphates.

Phosphates also chelate ions in the protein system, which contributes to increased water-holding capacity. Chelating divalent ions prevents them from forming cross-bridges between proteins, allowing the proteins to unfold and bind free water more readily.

Food-grade phosphates are derived from phosphoric acid and can assume many forms. The USDA allows phosphates to be labeled as “sodium phosphate,” or in the case of the new generation of no-sodium phosphates, then “potassium phosphate,” even though these are often blends of phosphates with unique functionalities for specific applications. When used with sodium chloride, the ingredient system further increases the water-holding capacity of the protein.

Proper selection and use of phosphates can increase yields by more than 10%, thus reducing shrinkage (moisture loss) and purge (cook-out) during further processing and final cooking. This has both economic and product quality advantages.

Amr Shaheed, technical service manager-food applications, Innophos Inc., Cranbury, NJ, said phosphates also improve freeze-thaw stability.

“For chicken products, we offer an optimized sodium blend geared towards improving texture, color stability and freeze-thaw stability,” Shaheed said. “For beef patties, we offer an optimized sodium blend that improves the water-holding capacity of the patty and helps create a softer texture with a softer bite.”

Read more in the Meat + Poultry article: Ensuring Succulence

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