Ground meat products such as sausages, patties and luncheon meats are emulsion based products and their quality depends upon the ability of lean meat (fat free meat) in the presence of salt, polyphosphates, water and other additives to form emulsion with fat, which are relatively heat stable. Meat proteins are natural emulsifying agents in the meat emulsions. Meat emulsion is prepared by mincing the meat and blending with other ingredients and subsequently chopping in a bowl chopper to induce emulsification. Chopping temperature of meat is an important factor in achieving stability, since temperatures in excess of 15° to 20°C, emulsions begin to break down. Food cutters are used to comminute meat materials finely. The arrangement, number, shape, speed and sharpness of knives are the main factors influence cutter 's performance. Distance between knives and bowl should be adjusted to 0.7 mm. The degree of comminution and the appearance of the product are controlled to a degree by the order of addition, the relative speeds of the bowl and cutting knives and the total chopping time.
Reduction in production cost of meat products is achieved largely through economic formulations. Use of by-products, additives (salt, polyphosphate) and fillers/ binders/extenders (non meat ingredients) at appropriate level ensure reduction in formulation costs. Polyphosphates like tetra sodium pyrophosphate, sodium tripolyphosphate or a combination of food grade phosphates at 0.5 % level of formulation have a synergistic effect in improving the quality of meat products in combination with 1to 2 % salt. Product palatability is increased due to better retention of fat and spice as well as decreased cooking losses. Water or ice is added to the formulation up to 10 % level to dissolve salt and phosphate, solubilise the meat proteins, reduce heat during chopping and provide fluidity to the emulsion.
A variety of plant protein products are incorporated in meat products as functional component, which contribute in binding protein sites for a more compact yet tender comminuted product; reducing accumulation of surface fat resulting in a tastier, juicy cooked product; reducing weight and dimensional shrinkage and contributing a significantly high quality protein comparable to eggs and milk. A variety of non meat materials such as starches or flours, mashed potato, soy products, milk solids, egg liquid or cooked eggs, rusk, suji and dal (processed pulses) are added to basic meat formulations to improve emulsion stability, cooking yield, slicing characteristic and flavour and reduce formulation costs. However, these meat fillers have negative effects upon products firmness. The level of addition varies from 2 to 20 % depending upon the additive, product and functionality desired.