French scientists to analyse “sous-vide” meat cooking

A new French/New Zealand research alliance of importance to the meat industry has been announced between INRA (France) and the Riddet Institute. The work will be funded by the Dumont D’Urville NZ-France S&T Support Programme.

Dr Thierry Astruc and Dr Véronique Santé-Lhoutellier, internationally recognised for their work on meat biochemistry, visited the Riddet Institute this week.

The project will develop tools and prototype processes and products that will allow the meat industry to produce new types of meat products.

Dr Mike Boland, from the Riddet Institute, said: “We are investigating the effects of ‘new to New Zealand’ mild processing technologies, including high pressure processing (HPP), and sous-vide cooking, as well as conventional cooking, and their combinations on meat microstructure and protein digestion.

“We have a particular interest in exploring HPP and the sous-vide cooking method, and combinations thereof, for enhancing the texture and protein digestion of meat foods,” he said.

Sous-vide cooking takes place in vacuum sealed plastic pouches or trays at lower than normal cooking temperatures for extended times. By manipulating these processes, it should be possible to target specific proteins in the meat to improve tenderness and digestibility.

“Cooking of meat at high temperatures can result in protein oxidation through the generation of oxygen free radicals, which can lead to oxidation of amino acids, leading to altered meat protein digestibility after cooking,” said Dr Boland.

“The sous-vide and HPP meat products are an interesting alternative to diversify the range of ready-to-eat products developed from New Zealand meat, by adding value to low-value cuts of meat.”

The complexities of meat microstructure and its role during gastro-intestinal digestion of meat protein will be investigated by combining the complementary strengths of the New Zealand and French teams, which are among only a few groups working in this area globally.

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