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A common characteristic of the modern consumer is the need for information about products, processes, safety issues and so much more. Consumers today will not eat something without knowing what it is made of, how, when, and where. This means that consumers of sausages want to know what their sausages are made from and how. Many people eat sausages but never bother to think about the nature of the casings which contain the meat. In some cases unscrupulous food companies manufacture beef sausages with pork meat casings and people who claim not to eat pork products unknowingly consume pork. This is prevalent in developing countries with weak enforcement of food legislation and systems.
Casings are soft cylindrical containers used to contain sausage mixes. Casings can be of natural origin or artificial. Natural casings are obtained from animal intestines derived from slaughtering. Manufactured artificial casings are made of cellulose, collagen, or synthetic materials. Sausage fillings are mostly minced or comminuted meat mixes held together by the casings during further processing steps such as smoking, boiling, frying, or roasting. In addition, casings also protect products during storage.
To keep up with the ever growing demand in the meat industry, there is the need for alternative forms of casings as the natural casings alone are not sufficient for the growing consumer demand. The consumer has become health conscious, requiring healthier products. When compared with the natural casings, the whey protein casings have negligible microbial contamination. The whey protein casings offer less health risks than the synthetic ones. In fact, Polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC)- based casings have been found to contain phthalates that are harmful for the endocrine system especially in children . Increased use of synthetic packaging materials has led to the serious environmental problems due to their non - biodegradability. Whey proteins have an interesting nutritional value and possess several functional properties important for biofilm formation. Whey proteins are of high quality, since they have all the essential amino acids and a biological value higher than egg or casein proteins and also some functional properties of interest to the food industry, such as solubility, emulsification, foaming, gelation, and viscosity development. These functional properties are important for biofilm formation. There is therefore the need to fully utilize these whey proteins rather than just allowing them to go to waste.
Lead author, Dr.Perkins Muredzi who conducted research on “Production of artificial sausage casings from whey proteins” conducted research work on whey proteins film forming capabilities. His work was on formation of whey protein-based films mainly involving heat denaturation in aqueous solution at 75 -100°C, producing intermolecular disulphide bonds, which were responsible for film structure. A plasticizer was added to impart flexibility and extensibility of the edible polymeric film. Addition of a cross-linking agent was for the formation of chemical links between molecular chains to form a three-dimensional network of connected molecules. Harvesting of the edible films was done via the casting method.
The consumer, according to research, does not consider the type of casing as long as it does not affect three key areas of the sausage – colour, bite and meat show. Independent consumer research shows that on the whole consumers do not know and most have never considered the origin of a sausage skin (TNS Market Research Report 2009). Globally , from all the consumer research in many countries around the world, it can be seen that the consumer does not care about the type of casing as long as it is a good casing (ISI Consumer report 2009).
A recent development has been the realisation by International Sausage Casings Association (INSCA) of the importance of scientific research and studies and the association’s commitment to take the mission of enhancing its scientific involvement by forming the ISWG, made up of delegates of INSCA, ENSCA (European Natural Sausage Casings Association), NANCA (North American Natural Casings Association), JNSCA (Japanese Natural Sausage Casings Association), and CNSCA (Chinese Natural Sausage Casings Association) to study, propose and implement scientific study and research on natural casings, with the aim of enhancing public, scientific, and governmental awareness of sausage products and their properties.
A special issue about the topic appeared recently in the International Journal of Nutrition and Food Science under the theme “Optimising Quality and Food Process Assessment” with guest editors from the Biosystems Engineering Department, Tarbiat Modares University (TMU) Tehran, Iran; the Department of Emergency Medicine, Northern State Medical University Arkhangelsk, Russia and the Food Processing Technology Department, Harare Institute of Technology Harare, Harare Metro, Zimbabwe
Please check the Special Issue at: