As part of their processing, many products such as bacon and ham have water added in addition to salt or preservatives. It is of concern to regulators that the amount of added water is correctly labelled and kept to a minimum. A technique is therefore required that can identify the amount of added water that is present in a sample and whether it is associated with the preservatives and salt. This study will investigate the use of the dielectric technique to quantify the amount of added water in pork products.
The microwave dielectric spectroscopy technique at high frequencies (108 - 1011 Hz) should be able to provide information on the bulk and bound nature of the water in the sample. It can also be used at intermediate frequencies (103 - 107 Hz) to provide information on cellular structures (possibly of use in the detection of mechanically recovered meat and offal).
The technique could be useful to manufacturers and regulators in evaluating the amount of water that is added during pork processing.
The study will begin by identify the frequencies available using dielectric techniques that are useful in identifying water. This will be tested using a wide range of frequencies on meat samples of known added water values.
The useful frequencies in the range of 108 to 1011 Hz will then be used on the standard samples to produce detailed studies of free and bound water in pork. Any difference in composition seen could then be correlated to other factors such as presence of added solutes and heat treatment.
The results obtained in the study will act as a database to compare to unknown samples. The technique will be assessed for its ability to evaluate the amount of water added during pork processing.
<p>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/" target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.