Reported salt levels in whole-muscle cured meat products differ substantially within and among European countries, providing substantial scope for salt reduction across this sector. The objective of this study was to identify the minimum acceptable salt levels in typical whole-muscle cured products in terms of physicochemical, microbial and sensorial properties. Salt levels in a small selection of commercial Irish meat products were determined to establish a baseline for reduction. Subsequently, eight different back bacon rasher and cooked ham products were produced with varying levels of salt: 2.9%, 2.5%, 2% and 1.5% for bacon, and 2%, 1.6%, 1.0% and 0.8% for ham. Salt reduction produced products with significantly harder texture and higher microbial counts, with no difference in the colour and affecting the sensory properties. Nonetheless, salt reduction proved to be feasible to levels of 34% and 19% in bacon and ham products, respectively, compared to baseline.
Meat Science – Elsevier
Published: May 1, 2018
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