Thursday, 10 December 2015

Would you miss meat to turn down the heat?

The meat industry and climate change

Climate change is a hot topic in 2015 and the particular issue of global warming is always in the news. The 2015 COP21 United Nations Climate Change Conference is underway and current world leaders as well as former state governors are voicing their opinions. One such former governor is Arnold Schwarzenegger and one such opinion is that becoming vegetarian—at least part-time—would help (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-35039465).
Volodkevich bite jaws, Warner-Bratzler blade and Kramer shear cell can texture test meat-like products
FTC Fixtures for shearing meat
The statistics as to which point in the agri-food supply chain (and which end of a cow) is the main cause of the problem can vary, however some numbers can be measured to ease the transition from carnivore to herbivore—even for just one day a week. That quantitative data concerns the texture of the food.

Tough to be tender

The quality of meat, poultry and fish is especially related to its physical texture in terms of consumer acceptance. Rubberiness, toughness and chewiness are to be avoided, according to extensive sensory studies, with tenderness driving customer satisfaction—and the ability to serve up a vegetarian (or vegan) alternative to an ardent meat-eater in an effort to save the planet.

Texture analysis of meat like foods

A texture analyzer enables the producer to compare the scientifically measured mechanically-derived parameters of different foods. In this way, the food scientist may optimize the ingredients, formulation, packaging and preparation to achieve a desirable target texture. Methods which shear and/or compress the sample best represent the interaction of the consumer with the meat product—cutting, slicing, biting and chewing are the actions which are influenced by tenderness or toughness.

Comparing the veggie alternative

Measuring the comparative firmness of burgers can optimize a vegetarian product
Comparative firmness graphs: meat and veggie burger
This video show an in-depth bulk-analysis method comparing the reconstituted meat burger with a soya textured vegetable protein alternative. By correlation with the ideal sensory characteristics, Meat Free Monday could be any day of the week, and if the texture is right, the switch could be for any number of valid reasons.

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