Voranuch Suvanich, Ingrid Maciel-Pedrote and Witoon Prinyawiwatkul
Processed beef products in the U.S. market include sausages and cured, canned, dehydrated and convenience meat items. The convenience and snack meat products make up about 2 percent of the total meat production. The demand for these items continues to increase. According the Snack Food Association, meat had the largest percentage growth in the snack food industry with an increase of 31 percent in sales between 1999 and 2000, and a projection of a profitable future.
Beef cuts from the shoulder and neck tend to be inferior in quality, to darken quickly and to cost less. The rough cuts are trimmed immediately and often sold as stew and ground meat items. These cuts can be further processed into new convenience meat products that are tasty, ready-to-eat, portable and unique in style with added value and acceptable quality. Such alternative products may potentially lead to higher revenues for Louisiana beef producers and processors.
Crispy Beef Chips
LSU AgCenter researchers have developed two new Cajun-style crispy beef chips from beef cuts for stew (shoulder and neck). Beef cuts were trimmed to remove fat, tumbled with salt and sodium tripolyphosphate and mixed with beef plasma, sodium nitrite, dried herbs and spices. The meat was then stuffed into stainless steel cylinder molds and frozen. The frozen product was sliced thin and oven-dried. The beef chips were packed in polyethylene bags.
Two products (4 percent sugar and 6 percent sugar with spices) were mailed to 100 consumers in Louisiana for them to evaluate. Consumers rated product acceptability of appearance, color, aroma, texture and overall liking. Purchase intent was also asked.
Results indicated no differences between the two beef chips in overall liking, acceptability and purchase intent. Seventy percent of the consumers found the products acceptable, and 37 percent would purchase the products if available. Aroma and taste differentiated the two products. Appearance, color and overall liking were most critical to overall acceptance, while aroma and overall liking were most critical to purchase.
Surimi-like Beef Products
Surimi-like beef products contain a high concentration of myofibrillar protein and form strong, elastic gels when cooked. The gel-forming property is essential for manufacturing products such as meat snacks, low-fat cold cuts, sausages and seafood analogs. Making beef surimi is challenging because the fat content from undesirable cuts (shoulder and neck) is high, and the meat has more pigment, connective tissue and collagen. However, we successfully developed a process to produce white beef (surimi-like) from ground beef. The process involves washing ground beef with iced water, draining and mixing with cryo-protectants. Yield was up to 35 percent of the original weight of ground beef, depending on the ground beef’s particle size. The white beef has low fat content (1.2 percent). Whiteness of the white beef prepared using three washing cycles was not different from that of the commercial Alaska pollack surimi. The white beef exhibited desirable functionality and can potentially be used as an ingredient in various reduced-fat meat products and seafood analogs. Based on its color and textural properties, white beef can be further processed into seafood-flavored imitation products targeting consumers allergic to seafood. Because consumers are more health conscious and often associate the “red” color of meat with unhealthy consumption, white beef and its derivative products may be alternatives.
New Beef Cold-cuts
LSU AgCenter researchers have developed a low-fat, colorless cold-cut. Two formulations (spicy and bland) were prepared. White beef was tempered and chopped to fine particles, and all ingredients and ice water were added. The mixture was then stuffed into casings, cooked in the smokehouse, cooled, thinly sliced and vacuum packaged.
Louisiana consumers evaluated the two cold-cut products for acceptability of sensory quality: appearance, color, flavor, texture and overall liking. They also evaluated intensity of whiteness, aroma and hickory smoke strength, saltiness, hotness, sweetness, juiciness and toughness. Purchase intent was also determined.
There were no differences in overall liking, acceptability and purchase intent between the two products. Eighty-four percent of the consumers accepted the products, and 60 percent would purchase if available. Texture, flavor and overall liking were discriminating attributes. Some consumers were concerned about the whiteness of the products. The mis-conception from consumers was that chemicals were used to produce the white beef cold-cut. The white beef cold-cut product has market potential. Further product optimization and a market-test study are the next steps to commercialization.
Voranuch Suvanich, Research Associate; Ingrid Maciel-Pedrote, Graduate Student; and Witoon Prinyawiwatkul, Associate Professor, Department of Food Science, LSU AgCenter, Baton Rouge, La.
(This article was in the fall 2002 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)