How To Process Meat

curingprocessing is defined as any mechanical, chemical or enzymatic treatment of meat which alters  the  meat form from which it originally occurs.


Functions of meat processing:

1. Preservation and/or self-life extension
2. Tenderization
3. Meat cookery
4. Manipulation and control of composition
5. Portion control
6. Improvement of consumer convenience

Curing ingredients and their functions:

1. Salt [NaCl]


  • for meat protein extraction
  • contributes to a desirable flavor
  • aids in water retention in processed meat
  • controls bacterial growth

2. Sugar


  • counteracts astringent quality of aslt
  • enhances the flavor of the product
  • aids in lowering the pH of the cure [cane sugar is more suitable]

3. Nitrates, nitrites, curing salt


  • for cured color development
  • for cured flavor development
  • inhibits the growth of clostridia

Recommended use level:

  • ½ teaspoon/kilogram of meat
  • 0.2% or weight of meat
  • 200 ppm NaNa2 in finished products

4. Phosphates


  • improve water retention
  • improve binding between meat chunks
  • enhance emulsion stability
  • help to suppress development of rancid flavors
  • decrease emulsion viscosity

Recommended use level:

  • 1 teasepoon phosphate dissolved in ¼ cup water
  • 0.3% of weight of meat

5. Ascorbates, Erythorbates, Ascorbic Acid


  • hastens reduction of nitrate to nitric acid
  • antioxidant
  • improve color stability
  • suppress nitrosamine formation

Recommended use level:

  • ascorbic acid – 500mg/kg. of meat
  • erythorbate – .05% of weight of meat

6. Binders, fillers, emulsifiers – usually added for economic reasons

6.1 Binders

  • dissolve and bind meat particles together
  • hold moisture during processing and/or subsequent heating
  • produce better yields e.g. dried skim milk, cereal flour, starches, soy protein concentrate, carrageenan

6.2 Fillers

  • insoluble additive
  • does not contain water soluble proteins
  • serve only as added weight
  • e.g. cereal grain products

6.3 Emulsifiers

  • contain water soluble proteins in varying amounts
  • aid in the emulsification of the ingredients in chopper e.g. dried whey, soy protein isolate, soy protein concentrate

7. Extenders

Non-meat material added to meat in order to:

  • increase the bulk, and
  • modify the quality of a meat product


  • TVP [textured vegetable protein]
  • ISP [isolated soy protein]

8. Flavoring agents – flavor improvement, bacterial inhibition, color improvement, antioxidant function.

  • Spices
    • pepper
    • cloves
    • mace
    • cinnamon
    • garlic
    • onions
    • nutmeg
    • paprika
  • Flavor modifiers
    • MSG [monosodium glutamate]
    • Hydrolyzed proteins
    • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
    • Nucleotides
  • Smoke flavor
  • Starter cultures

9. Food color

  • color improvement

10. Water

  • universal solvent

Recommended application for carrageenan [aquagel]



Antioxidants – used only where loss of flavor or freshness may become a problem. It slow down the oxidative deterioration of fat


  • BHT – butylated hydroxyl toluene
  • BHA – butylated hydroxyl anisole
  • TBHQ – tertiary butyl hydroquinone
  • Propyl gallate

Synergists – used in conjunction with the antioxidants to increase the effectiveness of each oxidant.


  • citric acid
  • monolsopropyl citrate
  • monoglyceride citrate

Classification of processed meats

1. Non-comminuted

  • includes hams, bacons, corned beef commonly referred to as smoked meats
  • they are prepared from whole, intact cuts of meat
  • usually are cured, seasoned, heat processed and smoked
  • often they are molded or formed

2. Comminuted

  • products use small meat pieces, chunks, chips or slices. Most comminuted products are classed as sausages.


Sausages – are comminuted [ground seasoned meats, stuffed/unstuffed into casing; may be smoked, cured, fermented and heated.

Classification of sausages:

1. fresh saugages – are made from fresh meats, which are neither cured, smoked, fermented nor cooked. It must be kept under refrigeration after processing and must be cooked before serving e.g. hamburger, fresh pork sausages

2. uncooked smoked sausages – fresh sausages which are cured and smoked at a temperature of 32 degrees centigrade [90 degrees foreign height] for three [3] hours.

3. cooked, smoked sausages – type of sausages which are subjected to light smoking and cooked at an internal temperature of at least 61 degrees centigrade [142 degrees foreign height]. e.g. frankfurters, wieners

4. cooked meat specialties – sausages which are formulated and processed same as frankfurters however, these are cooked in pans or molders and the degree of chopping is coarser than frankfurts. E.g. meat loaf

5. fermented dry sausages – type of sausage which requires the action of microorganisms for the production of lactic acid. Moisture content is withdrawn from the initial moisture content of 75% to 26-40%. E.g. salami, summer sausages

6. semi-dry sausages – type of sausages which are smoked and dried for a short time at high temperature. Final moisture content s higher than the dry sausages [40-50% vs. 26-40%]. E.g. chorizo, pepperoni

Next Read: Meat Processing Business

Meat processing ingredients can be bought at:

Ultima Entrepinoy Forum Center
Nutrition Foundation of the Philippines Bldg.
#107 E. Rodriguez Sr. Ave., Quezon City
Tel: 411-1349; 742-0826; 742-7866

source:, photo from