chapter  1
4 Pages

Introduction: Importance of Analysis in Meat Products

ByHANS STEINHART

Analysis of food serves mainly to defi ne its quality. One distinguishes among process, nutritional, and sensory quality. According to DIN ISO 9000, the term quality is defi ned as the totality of features concerning the ability of a product to fulfi ll its requirements (International Institute for Standardization, 2005). Th e concept of food quality has, however, to be considered on a much broader basis, as the diff erent demands of the manufacturer, the consumer, the surveillance agency, and the legislature must be taken into account in order to obtain healthy and safe products without neglecting the concepts of economy and ecology. Th erefore, food must not be evaluated just for its safety and its nutritional value but also for its sensorial, technological, and even ideological (e.g., food of biodynamic origin) or religious value (e.g., kosher food). Th e consumer wants “healthy” products with high nutritional value in regard to macronutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and fi ber as well as such minor nutrients as vitamins and trace elements. Products should also be superior in taste, fl avor, and texture. As consumer behavior, like society in general, is changing constantly, people tend to favor prepackaged food for convenient preparation and food with a long shelf life. Allergens, contaminants and residues, trans-fatty acids (TFA), genetically modifi ed organisms (GMO), and prions are catchwords for things that are generally regarded as undesired components in food, especially in meat and meat products, by consumers; unfortunately, they cannot be totally avoided by the manufacturers. Although these undesired components constitute an underlying risk, avoiding microbial contamination is a far more important topic in ensuring food safety and food quality. All these factors add up to an ideal concept of food quality; at a minimum, eff ort has to be made to ensure maximum nutritional value and food safety, but the economic success of a product will surely also be aff ected by other factors, including (irrational) consumer expectations. Additionally, as nutritional research is gaining in importance, new analytical methods permit the analysis of biochemical pathways of minor food ingredients which can be considered to have positive eff ects for humans (e.g., ω-3 fatty acids); such

methods can also allow for detection of trace amounts of potentially hazardous components such as acrylamide, furan, or TFA. Th is means that the term food quality cannot be considered static; manufacturers and legislators have to consider the latest research results based on the progress in analytical methods. Analysis of meat and meat products is a complex process because it involves many totally diff erent aspects of the problem. Th e most important decision to be made before one starts any analytical work is the question of what answer should be given through the analytical procedure. Th e statement of the problem defi nes the analytical method that can be used to get the best answer. Regarding meat, the most important questions in connection with analytical procedures are: processing control, composition of meat and meat products (nutritional value), sensory quality, and safety aspects.