Research area: Food Science and Technology
Title: Application of non-thermal processing methods to produce value added meat products.
The ideal food processing method should inactivate spoilage and pathogenic microorganisms, and reduce degradation of organoleptic and nutritional properties to produce an acceptable product for consumers that meets the standards of regulatory agencies. Consumers’ demand towards non-processed or fresh-like foods has been increasing. This has generated interest among food manufacturers to explore alternative non-thermal food processing options to meet consumer demand without compromising the quality of processed foods fueling research activities in the development of advanced non-thermal food processing applications for meat.
The non-thermal processing market for meat and seafood segment is expected to grow as these products are susceptible to bacterial contamination. However desirable or undesirable changes may occur during non-thermal processing of meat and meat-based products. The use of non-thermal technologies, like high pressure processing (HPP) and pulsed electric field (PEF) will be discussed in relation to meat processing. It has been observed that the application of these technologies at low intensity levels generates physical and/or chemical reactions, which can influence meat quality.
HPP offers a more natural and environmentally friendly alternative for shelf life extension of food products. Although HPP is considered a “non-thermal process”, its use in high-fat foods like meat can increase oxidative processes. The use of HPP with meat has been somewhat limited as various pressure and temperature levels can affect colour, modulate proteolytic activities and fatty acid composition of meat that can influence meat quality. PEF technology is a non-thermal processing method with low energy requirements that minimizes quality deterioration of food. This technology has been widely used in industrial pasteurization of beverages. However recently, more studies have been conducted on muscle foods. An overview on the effects of PEF and HPP processing on physicochemical and sensory properties of meat will be presented and potential applications in meat processing will be discussed.