Does good taste have to mean poor health?

Is it possible for a healthy sausage to taste as good as an ordinary, unhealthy sausage? Nebojsa Perisic will answer this and more when he presents his doctoral thesis on December 10, 2012.

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Ragni Ofstad

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Nils Kristian Afseth

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Let us take a sausage that is sold in most shops, a bacon sausage with cheese. Mmm. Tastes great, don’t you think? What makes the sausage taste good? Is it the unhealthy ingredients in the sausage that lead to us thinking it’s so good? The answer is yes! Sodium chloride or table salt, which is used in much of our food, gives a good taste and has good water-holding capacity, which in turn makes the meat tender and gives longer shelf life. But the disadvantage is that too much salt can be dangerous to our health. It can lead to increased blood pressure and in doing so increase the risk of heart attacks. We currently eat around 9 g of salt per day but the World Health Organization recommends 5 g per day.

Consequently, it would be ideal to substitute a proportion of the sodium chloride with magnesium sulphate or potassium chloride, which are also salts used in the mineral salt seltin. They do not have the same properties as sodium chloride concerning taste, but are comparable when it comes to water-holding capacity. Therefore, these three salts must be combined in such a way that we get a favourable distribution between good taste and good properties in the meat.

Nebojsa Perisic began to study proteins in meat and their capacity to hold water. This is important because the water content makes the meat tenderer and gives it enhanced colour. After having studied various meats with infrared spectroscopy and testing the different salts on the meat, he confirmed that a combination of around 50 % sodium, 25 % potassium and 25 % magnesium gives the best composition for tasty meat with a good preservation capability and colour consistency.

Perisic has studied this combination of salts in his doctoral thesis, in which he confirms we should reduce the use of sodium chloride in food in cases where it has a negative effect on our health, but not remove it completely as food would then have poorer taste reduced shelf life.

Nebojsa Perisic is 30 years old, comes originally from Belgrade, Serbia and now lives in Oslo. He will present his PhD thesis at Nofima in Ås on December 10. His thesis is entitled “Vibrational spectroscopy analysis of interactions between proteins, salts and water”.

Raw materials and process optimisation  

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