18 April 1997

Calcium jab to upgrade cuts

FOREQUARTER cuts of beef could be upgraded by injecting muscles with calcium.

"Meat on the forequarter is made up of a range of small muscles that are difficult to process into steaks because they are separated by connective tissue. Forequarter value is, therefore, poor because of the muscle size," explains Jeff Wood of Bristol University.

Studies sponsored by a number of supermarkets and processors have focused on injecting beef muscle with calcium.

"A simple injection of calcium -a natural element of muscle – triggers an enzyme mechanism which tenderises muscles. Other muscle enzymes bind muscle pieces together into bigger blocks of meat to aid further processing," says Dr Wood.

These cuts would then be ideal for processing, for which there is a growing demand or for inclusion in easily prepared ready meals. "This boosts the versatility of the forequarter, which is usually seen as a low value cut and used for mince. The value of the carcass should then be enhanced."n