Meat+Poultry - November 2020 - 35

Processors work to manage moisture in meat
and poultry convenience products
BY D O N N A B E R RY | m e a t p o u l t r y @ s o s l a n d.c o m

Taylor Farms

N

ot only has the coronavirus
(COVID-19) pandemic changed the
way consumers shop, cook and eat at
home, it's completely overhauled grab-and-go
and institutional foodservice, putting increased
demands on food integrity. This includes fully
cooked meat and poultry products, such as the
slices in the pre-made packaged sandwich, the
strips in ready-to-eat salads and the cubes in
snack packs.
It is acceptable, in fact to some consumers
it's inviting, to see fully cooked packaged meat
and poultry sold at retail having some juice on
the surface. This visually communicates the
product is moist and tender. Sitting in juices is
not appealing, especially in partitioned salad
bowls or in a multi-package salad kit.
The same is true with the growing number
of varied meat-containing snack packs in the
market. Excess liquid may be associated with
product breakdown, even spoilage.
Packaged sandwiches have always been
challenged, as it is paramount that the meat
does not make the bread soggy through
moisture migration. At the same time, the
meat should not easily dry out, particularly
around the edges that are on display at
time of purchase. The demand for such
sandwiches has skyrocketed, especially in the

convenience-store channel and coffee shops.
Hospital cafeterias and university dining halls
that previously had build-a-sandwich bars have
turned to pre-made options, complete with
meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato and condiments.
Food manufacturers and commissaries are
responding with increased options of all types
of packaged convenience meat-containing
products. Vacuum refrigerated packaging may
assist with ensuring product integrity, possibly
even extending shelf life a few days. In some
instances, including a moisture absorber in
the package is helpful; however, this must be
done carefully so that it is clearly labeled as
being inedible.
One of the first places to start with
managing moisture in such packaged products
is during the preparation and cooking of
the meat and poultry component. Moisture
binders enhance the ability of protein fibers
to bond with water. This tenderizes the meat
and increases its weight, thus improving yield
and contributing to positive economics for
the processor.
With fully cooked products, bound moisture
may improve ease-of-use. That is because
moisture binders improve sliceability in deli
meats by increasing firmness, which enables
faster slicing and a higher percentage of intact

Moisture retention in retail
grab-and-go products
is especially important
with the increased
consumer interest in
this category during the
COVID-19 pandemic.

www.meatpoultry.com | 11.20 | MEAT+ POULTRY

35


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Meat+Poultry - November 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meat+Poultry - November 2020

Meat+Poultry - November 2020 - 1
Meat+Poultry - November 2020 - 1
Meat+Poultry - November 2020 - 2
Meat+Poultry - November 2020 - 3
Meat+Poultry - November 2020 - 4
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Meat+Poultry - November 2020 - VDG1
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