Cooked product slicing: how technology can influence production 1

The slice compactness depends on several factors:
Injections and additivation
• Meat pH
• Tenderizing – macerating
• Massaging – tumblers
• Molding
• Cooking
• Repressing and cooling
• Demolding, pasteurizing and maturing
• Slicing system


Injections and Additivation

The additivation affects yields, that is to say the water quantity you can add on a stable basis, but also the protein extraction. The additivation includes also preservatives as nitrite, that has a secondary function on red color enhancement, and antioxidants, as sodium ascorbate that also influences the color.
It’s interesting to value the obtainable product for example injecting at 7% or at 20%, at equal yield.
It’s easy to understand that the muscles greater swelling makes less relevant the mistake due both to injection ( Which standard deviation? Which impact having the same standard deviation? Which effect on preservatives, antioxidants, flavors?) and to weight mistake during molding phase (puffed up muscles use makes simpler the best filling during molding).

Meat pH

Usually the meat pH is 5.8; it’s also possible to use acidity adjusters to obtain this result or to modify it. If you add sodium citrate you increase the pH and consequently the yields, while adding lactic acid or lactate you improve the slice compactness but you reduce the product shelf life (this additive is not very used). The meat taste can change adding flavors but always considering the different phases of the production as cooking and maturing.

Tenderizing - macerating

Tenderizing can be done with flat blades, that better respect the product not damaging it, or with rotating blades, more invasive.
The macerating aim is to improve interaction between meat proteins and additives (starting from salt) to facilitate the protein extraction, the color homogeneity – due to cell sarcolemma break – and a minor muscle contraction – unidirectional and transversal – to make the product more isotropic when during cooking there is a reduction of the muscles volume due to weight loss.

Massaging

Massaging, together with tenderizing and injection, enables the proteins availability. Massaging – even with reduced cycles - has to last at least 24 hours to obtain proteins extraction