Meat preparations, how to choose? We talk about it on OneMorning

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How to choose meat preparations? We discuss this on Thursday, March 9, 2017, at 8:30 a. m., on UnoMattina, RaiUno. This food category maintains an important role in the diet of Italians, even with the increase of vegetarians and vegans.

On-shelf meat preparations are becoming increasingly popular due to the convenience factor, convenience. Just open the tray and bake in a few minutes. Hamburgers, roasts and escalopes, cutlets and‘cordon bleu’. There is something for everyone, but it is always good to read the ingredient list on the label for an informed purchase.

What meat?

Beef or pork, chicken or turkey, any kind of meat is fine, as long as it is such. If, on the other hand, we read ‘mechanically separated meat’ (CSM) we are dealing with a by-product, pink slime (‘pink slime’). It is obtained by removing the remnants of muscle-so frayed-from bones or carcasses by physical processes under pressure. The quality of MSC is far inferior to meat, and it should be cooked carefully to inhibit pathogenic germs. (1)

How much meat is there?

The more elaborate the recipe, the less valuable the raw material. Just see the percentage, after the ingredient, in the list. No wonder a hamburger contains 90 percent meat, but when a bun borders on 50 percent of the product weight it may be time to consider alternatives.

Origin? The requirement to declare countries of birth, rearing and slaughter applies to meat products only. (2) When it reads only ‘origin,’ it means that the animals were born, raised and slaughtered in one country. ‘Made in Italy’ is preferable, both in origin-which can also be voluntarily indicated on the labels of preparations-and in the place of production.

What else is there in meat preparations?

In meats and meat preparations, the presence of flavorings, preferably natural ones, salt and spices is inevitable. Possible that of additives, antioxidants in particular, which are of no concern. (3) But if the list of ingredients is too long, it may be better to choose simpler foods before the table test. Given that, when the raw material is of quality, there is no need for big decorations.

Finally, the nutritional table deserves a glance to confirm the appropriateness of the choice. In these foods the proteins express qualities, the salt masking their vices. Comparison of protein and fat content, in particular, is the litmus test for the intrinsic value of the product.

Dario Dongo

Notes

(1) A further variant is the so-called ‘recomposed meat’. That is, meat fragments ‘glued’ together with an enzyme, transglutaminase, that allows them to be reassembled into larger pieces

(2) Whether fresh, frozen or deep-frozen, beef and pork, sheep and goat, poultry. Reg. (EC) 1760, 1825/2000, Reg. (EU) 1169/11 and 1337/13

(3) The most common antioxidant is ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C. The use of rosemary, and its extract, is widespread in meat productions.

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.