Dried plums offer natural antioxidant alternatives for sausages

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Antioxidant, Pork, Sausage

Antioxidant-rich dried plums may be a natural alternative to
synthetic preservatives for processed meats, suggests research from
the Americas.

Formulation of pre-cooked pork sausages with a puree of dried plums were liked by consumers just as much as sausages made with the synthetic antioxidant BHA and BHT, according to research published in this month's Journal of Food Science​. Moreover, the puree did not adversely affect the flavour profile of the sausages when used at a concentration of three per cent, report researchers from the University of Oriente in Venezuela and Texas A&M University. Interest is growing in plant-derived food additives as replacements to synthetic antioxidants like butylhydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylhydroxytoluene (BHT) to slow down the oxidative deterioration of food. Indeed, according to Frost and Sullivan, the synthetic antioxidant market is in decline, while natural antioxidants, such as herb extracts (particularly rosemary), tocopherols (vitamin E) and ascorbates (vitamin C) are growing, pushed by easier consumer acceptance and legal requirements for market access. The new research, funded by the California Dried Plum Board and Texas AgriLife Research, suggests that purees of dried plum, or dried plum mixed with apple, may be used as food ingredients in ready-to-eat meat products, like pre-cooked pork sausages, roast beef and ham. Typically, the oxidative deterioration of meat and meat products is caused by the degradation reactions of fats and pigments. Oxidation processes in food can lead to organoleptic deterioration in taste, colour and texture. Sausage formulation ​ The researchers, led by Professor Jimmy Keeton from Texas A&M, prepared pork sausages using raw pork pate with no antioxidant (control), dried plum puree (three or six per cent), dried plum and apple puree (three or six per cent), or 0.02 per cent BHA/BHT. The sausages were refrigerated, or cooked, vacuum packed and refrigerated, or cooked, vacuum packed and frozen (minus 20 degrees Celsius). Keeton and co-workers report that both levels of the dried plum were as effective as the synthetic antioxidants in the cooked and refrigerated and frozen sausages. Moreover, the higher concentration was more effective than BHA/BHT for retarding lipid oxidation in the refrigerated meat. Characteristics ​ The colour of the sausages was affected by the inclusion of the plum, with decreased redness observed with the six per cent concentration, and an increased yellowness for both dried plum and dried plum and apple puree at six per cent. A panel of trained testers noted changes to the flavour of the sausages, with increases in sweetness, and decreases in saltiness and bitterness. A masking of cooked pork fat, spicy/peppery, and sage flavours was also documented. "Overall, pork sausage with three per cent dried plum puree or dried plum and apple puree was as acceptable to consumers as the control or those patties with BHA/BHT,"​ wrote the researchers. "Inclusion of three per cent dried plum puree was effective as a natural antioxidant for suppressing lipid oxidation in precooked pork sausage patties,"​ they concluded. Healthy bonus ​ The use of such natural additives has the extra advantage of the health benefits associated with the extracts. Research from Oklahoma reported that the dried fruit has potential as a functional food ingredient since results from a rat study reported a potent effect on bone metabolism and prevention of the deterioration in bone mass (Bone​, Dec. 2006, Vol. 39, pp. 1331-1342). Source: Journal of Food Science ​June 2008, Volume 73, Issue 5, Page H63-H71, doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2008.00744.x "Antioxidant Properties of Dried Plum Ingredients in Raw and Precooked Pork Sausage" ​Authors: M.T. Nunez de Gonzalez, R.M. Boleman, R.K. Miller, J.T. Keeton, and K.S. Rhee

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