Rich Mitchell from National Provisioner Magazine interviews Dr. Jin Ji, CTO of Brunswick Labs, to discuss the trends and issues involving the use of spices and seasonings in meats for antimicrobial and antioxidant benefits. Here are some interesting facts and points from their conversation:
Rich: What are the major trends that you are seeing in the use of spices and seasonings for antioxidant benefits in meat?
Jin: During the last decades, meat and poultry products have been increasingly incorporating preservative ingredients because the preservatives significantly improve shelf lifetime, aroma, taste and other aspects of these products. Comparing with conventional synthetic preservatives, natural preservatives such as spices and seasoning are gaining more and more acceptance from consumers as these natural ingredients project an image of natural, social responsibility, and clean label. Besides the typical preservative benefits such as improved shelf lifetime and aroma, spices and seasonings may contribute, the nutritional benefits provided by the antioxidant and anti-microbial spices/seasonings themselves can be added benefits. For example, rosemary and sage are active antioxidant extracts that not only have preservative function, but also offer nutritional benefits from their antioxidant properties. With more ad more clinical evidence that shows protective effects of dietary patterns including an abundance of antioxidants-containing plant food, for example, Mediterranean diet showing benefits in cardiovascular health and metabolic syndrome prevention, the usage of these antioxidant-rich natural spices and seasonings in food preservation remains a current trend.
Rich: What is triggering the interest in the use of spices and seasonings for antioxidant benefits?
Jin: In fact, America has a long history of using natural ingredients for food preservatives. The Native Americans made use of natural antioxidant ingredients for food preservation long before the modern food industry decided to explore this idea. They shredded red meat and mixed it with berries creating a food called “Pemmican”, which is still available in the modern food market. The antioxidants from berries were so effective in preventing the meat from going rancid that the Native Americans could carry the dried mixture in a sack for months, without it going rancid. In the 1920s, antioxidants were developed intentionally for use in food preservation, with a large boom in the industry in 1940s and 1950s. In the recent years, a turn in consumer preference took place towards natural antioxidant ingredients and clean labels, due to skepticism about the effects of synthetic food additives on health. This trend is still very strong among the consumers.
Rich: What are the major challenges for producers and merchandisers in incorporating such elements in meat?
Jin: Both synthetic and natural preservatives face a number of considerations for their practical usage. First, the considerations focus on the natural availability, extraction efficiency and purification, and economical/practical factors (quantity needed, harvesting, etc) of the natural spice/seasonings as preservatives. The second group of consideration factors involves the incorporation of a preservative, natural or synthetic, into the final food product: stability, solubility, effects on the sensory properties of the food, and interactions with other food ingredients. Further, there are important regulatory considerations to be considered such as GRAS status, limit of the amount that can be incorporated, etc.. Often, natural and synthetic preservatives are regulated under different categories and guidelines that impact their practical use in production development.
Rich: How do you see the use of spices and seasonings for antioxidant benefits in meat evolving over the next few years?
Jin: The market for natural antioxidants comprised of spices and seasonings is very strong and sophisticated. The driving force for this natural antioxidant preservative market are educated consumers focusing on healthy products and clean, familiar labels. In this type of market that has high percentage of educated, savvy consumers, science-backed products will have better traction on attention and support, as consumers are getting more and more adapted to making fact-based judgment, and be more likely to focus on healthy products with convincing evidence. Clinical studies and preclinical studies are in high demand by both consumers and product developers to prove the health effects of food products. That is where Brunswick Labs, a scientific testing and research laboratory for food and nutritional industry, can provide the best support to enable successful, new-age products. Our phytonutrient profiling, clinical studies and pre-clinical studies can provide solid scientific support of the nutrition values, biological functionality, and health benefits of these products. In one sentence, we provide the science behind these food and nutritional products.
Send us any questions you have! You may also read the article that Rich wrote based on this interview for National Provisioner Magazine here: http://www.provisioneronline.com/articles/101617-in-search-of-the-right-spice