AMONG the most nutritious food products is meat, however, it spoils rapidly due to microbial, chemical, and physical factors.
But the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) says that there are several ways by which the storage or shelflife of meat can be lengthened.
This is where meat processing comes in, and the most common methods of meat treatment include cold storage, salting, curing, drying, smoking, and canning.
All these methods are practical, usable, and do not destroy the appearance of the product.
As backgrounder, meat processing originated during the prehistoric times where the first type of processed product was said to be sun-dried.
During those days, processed meat products were basically prepared for a single purpose – preserving for future use.
But with the introduction and use of technologies, meat processing has gone a long, long way.
Based on the processing technologies that were adopted, including the treatment of raw materials and the individual processing stages, it is now feasible to categorize processed meat products into six product categories.
In the country, the processed meat industry has six different product categories: fresh processed meat products, cured meat pieces, raw-cooked products, pre-cooked products, raw (dry) – fermented sausages, and dried meat.
As defined by the Food and Agriculture Organization, the six categories are:
* Fresh processed meat products – meat mixes composed of comminuted muscle meat, with varying quantities of animal fat. Products are salted only, curing is not practiced;
* Cured meat cuts – are meat pieces made of the entire pieces of muscle meat and can be sub-divided into two groups, cured-raw meats and cured-cooked meats;
* Raw-cooked meat products – the product components are muscle meat, fat and non-meat ingredients which are processed raw, i.e. uncooked by comminuting (the process in which solid materials are reduced in size, by crushing, grinding and other processes) and mixing;
* Pre-cooked meat products contain mixes of lower-grade muscle trimmings, fatty tissues, head meat, animal feet, animal skin, blood, liver and other edible slaughter by-products;
* Raw (dry) – raw-fermented sausages are uncooked meat products and consist of more or less coarse mixtures of lean meats and fatty tissues combined with salts, nitrite (curing agent), sugars and spices and other non-meat ingredients filled into casings; and,
* Dried meat products are the result of the simple dehydration or drying of lean meat in natural conditions or in an artificially created environment. Their processing is based on the experience that dehydrated meat, from which a substantial part of the natural tissue fluid was evaporated, will not easily spoil.
With the advances in preservation methods, new seasonings, and the combination of meat ingredients resulted in the development of new processed products.
Among these processed meat commodities, the major export products are sausages, corned beef, bacon, luncheon meat, and other indigenous meat products.
With the new developments in meat processing, majority of the steps in its production stage can now be mechanized to meet the rising demand in the local and international markets. (firstname.lastname@example.org/PN)