Vaess unveils plant-based sausage casing and “smart brine” to eliminate nitrites in bacon
27 Apr 2022 --- A team of Dutch food engineers at Vaess has introduced VascoPrime, a “primer” for plant-based sausages from slipping out of their casings. In addition, the company has leveraged biotechnology to develop a “smart brine” solution for nitrite-free processed meat, such as bacon.
“The knowledge of the industry, meat and the machinery has been passed on to each new Vaess generation. Meaning that our young, creative team works with the ingenuity of today and knowledge covering decades,” Joris Hermans, director business development at Vaess, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
“The combination of the two, plus the eagerness to solve the problems in today’s industry, makes us continue to surprise the industry with solutions of tomorrow.”
Alginate is widely used as a vegan-friendly casing for plant-based sausages. However, this solution has often presented the challenge of being difficult to bind to vegan sausage doughs.
In vegan and meat-based product formulations, this phenomenon can occur especially when the alginate-coated sausages are heated in hot water. As a result, the sausage will shed its casing the moment it hits boiling water.
Vaess’ VascoPrime is created in cooperation with vacuum fillers and portioning systems specialist Handtmann Machinenfabrik.
“VascoPrime runs on a Handtmann Conpro system,” explains Hermans. “We basically put a ‘double bridge’ between the alginate casing and sausage dough – a primer that works on two systems.”
“This works perfect on Handtmann’s Triple Coextrusion options on the Handtmann Conpro Link.”
Nitrite-free bacon based on bacterial cultures
Nitrite, recognizable by the E250 label on the packaging, is a preservative often used in meat products. It makes the grayish meat look pink, making it look just a little more appealing.
However, the use of E250 can be challenging. “E250 could form carcinogenic nitrosamines in your body, and is already prohibited in baby- and children’s food (up to six months of age), and not recommended for pregnant women,” explains Coen van Oorschot, commercial director at Vaess.
“For this reason many companies are looking for alternatives to create this pink color without using nitrites and nitrates. The nitrite-free solutions currently available often work with plant-based extracts – which are rich in naturally occurring nitrate – something we wanted to do differently.”
After years of research and thorough testing, the company has found a way to replace the nitrite in bacon. “With our solution, nitrite is no longer needed to give the meat its much-beloved pink color,” says van Oorschot.
“We’ve put our heads together with the biotech sector, since bacterial cultures have improved processed meats for years,” he explains. “Together we came up with a solution in which nitrite has been replaced by a super-smart brine compound with high-quality protein sources and special preserving bacterial cultures.”
“This means that the meat is not only nitrite-free and therefore healthier but also that there’s no more need for an E250 labeling on the packaging.”
The smart brine solution performs adequately but not identically to preservatives, notes van Oorschot. “When using starter cultures, one cannot depend on traditional preservatives, because they would inhibit the starter culture. In this case, the brine-compound also extends the microbial shelf life by the addition of salt and biopreservation by the starter culture.”
Will nitrites-infused meats get the chop?
Clean label alternatives to nitrites remain in high demand as high-nitrate diets are linked to a higher risk of colorectal cancers. Resveratrol taken from Japanese knotweed was previously spotlighted in research to hold potential for replacing the nitrite preservative in cured meats.
France recently approved a new bill with targets to gradually cut down the use of nitrites in cured meats. The nation’s parliament has ordered a review of the potential health risks presented by these additives, which is to be completed by the French national health agency Anses before the end of June.
“Potential upcoming bans and current discussions on its use will lead to problems for producers,” concedes van Oorschot. “We see it as a topic that the industry needs help with, and therefore we take our responsibility in offering a solution.”
By Benjamin Ferrer
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