Gum plus ions may cut fat and salt in meats: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition Sodium chloride Sodium

A combination of gellan gum and magnesium chloride may lead to low-fat, low salt meat products, according to new research from Mexico.

The combination, which the researchers claim has never been studied before, could offering alternatives to food manufacturers using meat batters, as consumer and political pressures mount to reduce the fat and salt content of their products.

“Use of magnesium chloride in tandem with gellan gum in the studied low-fat, reduced-sodium meat batters effectively compensated for the structural differences caused by fat and sodium reduction,”​ wrote Alfonso Totosaus and Lourdes Perez-Chabela in LWT - Food Science and Technology​.

Numerous scientists are convinced that high salt intake is responsible for increasing blood pressure (hypertension), a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) - a disease that causes almost 50 per cent of deaths in Europe.

CVD is reported to cost the EU economy an estimated € 169bn ($202bn) per year.

In the UK, Ireland and the USA, over 80 per cent of salt intake comes from processed food, with 20 per cent of salt intake coming from meat and meat products, and about 35 per cent from cereal and cereal products. Reduction of salt in these products represents a major technological and safety challenge to producers.

Despite the obvious impact on taste, salt performs a wide variety of other functions. In processed meat products, for example, salt is involved in activating proteins to increase water-binding activity, improves the binding and textural properties of proteins, helps with the formation of stable batters with fat, and also extends shelf-life with its anti-microbacterial effects.

Study details

The Mexican researchers tested three salts; including potassium, magnesium, and calcium chloride, in combination with gellan gum (Kelcogel LT100, CP Kelco) to produce reduce fat and salt meat batters.

Totosaus and Perez-Chabela report that magnesium chloride tended to extract more protein and produce a more stable batter than the potassium or calcium salts.

Furthermore, the gellan gum did not totally compensate for the water-retention in the reduced fat batters, which would affect the ‘succulence’ of the product.

When the gum and magnesium chloride were used in combination, an improvement in the stability and density of the meat batter was observed. There was also an improvement in the water holding properties, which improved the texture of the product, said the researchers.

“In the present results, gellan gum incorporation plus magnesium or calcium chloride produced lower hardness and higher cohesiveness values in the studied low-fat, reduced-sodium meat batters compared to the control; however, all other Texture Profile Analysis (TPA) parameters were higher than the control,”​ wrote the researchers.

Source: LWT - Food Science and Technology​ Volume 42, Issue 2, Pages 563-569“Textural properties and microstructure of low-fat and sodium-reduced meat batters formulated with gellan gum and dicationic salts”​ Authors: A. Totosaus, M.L. Perez-Chabela

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