Meat has occupied an indispensable part in the diet of majority. For many, it is impossible to fathom going vegan for even a week. While Meat industry is growing at a breakneck pace, it is imperative to maintain the quality standards so that in no way does it have a detrimental effect on the health of its consumers.
Meat primarily obtained from herbivorous animals, such as cattle, buffaloes, goats, sheep, and camels is widely consumed by people of developed as well as developing nations. Rich nutrient matrix meat is the first-choice source of animal protein for many people all over the world. Due to nearly neutral pH, high moisture content and rich nutrients, it is highly prone to contamination by microorganisms, which makes the preservation of meat more difficult than most other foods.
Preservation with Synthetic antioxidants
The principle of preservation is to create un-favourable conditions for the growth of microorganisms, which result in spoilage of food. Due to spoilage, the texture, flavour and nutritive value of meat are altered and thereby, rendering it inedible. Unless proper preservation methods are adopted, deterioration, microbial activity, enzymatic and chemical reactions along with physical changes is bound to occur. However, once meat is contaminated with microorganisms, their removal is difficult. Hence, preservation of meat is done by various preserving techniques such as chilling/refrigeration, freezing, curing, smoking, thermal processing, canning, dehydration, irradiation, chemicals and pressure processing. The technique that is of concern is the chemical preservation wherein some chemicals are considered to be hazardous.
Synthetic antioxidants are widely used chemicals for the meat preservation. They include Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT), Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA). These are incorporated in meat to prevent free radical damage that can cause spoilage, elicit a change in taste and produce putrid odours. Their synthetic quality however will not produce the same health benefits as natural antioxidants. Along with other synthetic antioxidants, there is considerable controversy surrounding the use of BHA and BHT in foods, as studies suggest them to be carcinogenic. A study by the National Library of Medicine demonstrated the link between BHT and lung tumour development. It is that BHT promotes the development of tumours from previously initiated cells.
If synthetic antioxidants are possible carcinogens, then why do countries such as United States include these food additives into products that are being consumed by millions ?
If synthetic antioxidants are possible carcinogens, then why do countries such as United States include these food additives into products that are being consumed by millions? Although BHA is banned in almost every country worldwide, including Japan and most parts of Europe, it is still permissible for use in the United States. But there can be some alternatives for this chemical antioxidants from researches in natural antioxidants.
In recent years, the synthetic antioxidant market is in decline, while natural antioxidants such as herbal extracts, tocopherols and ascorbates are growing as pushed by consumer demand and easier market access. And the new entry to the natural antioxidant list is the grape seed extract.
Grape seed as a Natural alternative
An extract from grape seeds could offer a natural alternative to synthetic preservatives for processed meat, a recent research in US has revealed it. Adding phenolic rich grape seed extract at a concentration of 0.02 percent reduced the formation of associated with lipid oxidation in processed meat without affecting the colour of the product. The extract, a by-product of fermentation, could be a natural alternative to artificial additives such as butylhydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylhydroxytoluene (BHT).
Several studies were conducted by the Institute of Illinois that revealed that higher concentration of grape – seed extract yielded better results than those from synthetics.
Several studies were conducted by the Institute of Illinois that revealed that higher concentration of grape – seed extract yielded better results than those from synthetics. It’s true that synthetics, after all, are engineered to maximize effectiveness, but sometimes nature comes up with a better product. Moreover it is advantageous that the extract did not affect the sensory profile of the meat, while foods containing oregano and rosemary retained an herbal odor.
The incorporation of this grape seed extract is yet to be commercialised and is being subjected to research on various aspects till date. No doubt that, the launch of such a natural antioxidant would be beneficial as a whole to the meat industry as well as to consumers.
Successful business is needed to support a healthy economy, but who determines the measure of success? By examining the way corporate food players make their decisions, monetary value may be the leading factor. Time to change is nearing, key players in this sector have to recognize it and be concerned to provide a healthy offering to the society.
The author, Srilavanyaa. K is a Special Reporter of Food Processing to IMoT Agri Forum. She graduated Food Process Engineering from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. Being a part of food industry, food safety is her prime concern. She finds at most satisfaction in penning down articles about it and considers it a step forward in the career. firstname.lastname@example.org