Beta-glucan could be used to partially replace salt while retaining taste and texture in high pressure processing of chicken breast meat, according to a new study in Food Chemistry.
Beta-glucan is a dietary fiber most often extracted from oats or barley. The study’s authors, from the University of Alberta’s Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, said that increasing interest in minimally processed and additive free foods is spurring development of novel processing technologies that can improve textural properties and taste. They tested oat beta-glucan in temperature assisted high pressure processing of reduced sodium ground chicken breast meat.
“Temperature assisted high pressure processing of foods is a method to prepare gel type products with the desired gel texture,” the researchers wrote. “Further, such processing helps to inactivate microorganisms and hence extends the shelf-life of the product.”
Sodium chloride – NaCl, or common table salt – is a common additive in the meat industry for making protein soluble, thereby improving protein’s functional properties, the authors said. However, excessive sodium consumption has been linked to increased risk of hypertension.
To reduce the amount of sodium in meats, phosphates are often added to the mix, but in this latest study, researchers aimed to get a similar textural effect through processing with oat beta-glucan, to allow manufacturers to cut salt and eliminate phosphates.
They found the optimum conditions for taste and texture of the finished product to be 400/600 MPa pressure, and 40°C, in a formulation including 1 per cent salt and 0.3 per cent beta-glucan. Addition of salt favours gelation, an important factor for the texture of processed meats.
The authors wrote: “The solubility of all the samples decreased drastically at a processing temperature of 60°C compared to that at 20°C and 40°C, indicating that temperature assists formation of a gel network resulting in decreased total protein solubility…At higher pressure level (600 MPa) and temperatures (20°C and 60°), total protein solubility of NaCl and BG [beta-glucan] samples were statistically similar, indicating that BG can be used as a partial replacement for NaCl in temperature assisted high pressure processed products.”
In addition to its potential for reducing salt and phosphates in meat, the authors noted that the US Food and Drug Administration has approved a claim for oat beta-glucan on product labels, meaning that food manufacturers are authorized to say that the ingredient can have a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels at consumption levels of 3g or more per day.
Source: Food Chemistry (2011)
“The use of β-glucan as a partial salt replacer in high pressure processed chicken
Authors: Dileep A. Omana, Graham Plastow, Mirko Betti