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Dried plums offer natural antioxidants for beef: Study

By Stephen Daniells , 24-Sep-2008

Antioxidant-rich dried plums may be a natural alternative to synthetic preservatives for boneless beef roasts, suggests research from the Americas.

Processed boneless beef roast prepared with a puree of dried plums produced only “marginally detectable differences” in the taste, according to research to be published in an upcoming issue of Meat Science.

The study adds to previous research from the same groups at the University of Oriente in Venezuela and Texas A&M University indicating the potential of the plum ingredients in processed meat products.

Interest is growing in plant-derived food additives as replacements to synthetic antioxidants like butylhydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylhydroxytoluene (BHT) to slow down the oxidative deterioration of food.

Indeed, according to Frost and Sullivan, the synthetic antioxidant market is in decline, while natural antioxidants, such as herb extracts (particularly rosemary), tocopherols (vitamin E) and ascorbates (vitamin C) are growing, pushed by easier consumer acceptance and legal requirements for market access.

The new research, funded by the California Dried Plum Board and Texas AgriLife Research, suggests that purees of dried plum, or dried plum mixed with apple, may be used as food ingredients in ready-to-eat meat products, like roast beef.

Typically, the oxidative deterioration of meat and meat products is caused by the degradation reactions of fats and pigments. Oxidation processes in food can lead to organoleptic deterioration in taste, colour and texture

Roast beef

The researchers, led by Professor Jimmy Keeton from Texas A&M, prepared the beef roasts by adding a brine containing no plum ingredient (control), dried plum juice (2.5 or 5 per cent), fresh plum juice concentrate (2.5 or 5 per cent), or spray dried plum powder (2.5 or 5 per cent). The roasts were then cooked, vacuum-packed and refrigerated for 10 weeks.

Keeton and co-workers report that all the plum ingredients exerted an antioxidant effect, as evidence by a reduction in TBARS values. Moreover, the ingredients exerted only a a minimal impact on scores of tenderness, as well as on taste, colour and appearance.

The best results were observed for 2.5 per cent dried plum juice and fresh plum juice concentrates, said the researchers.

“These results indicate that 2.5 per cent fresh plum juice concentrates or dried plum juice could be incorporated into precooked beef roasts to reduce lipid oxidation and potentially, warmed-over flavour,” concluded the researchers.

Healthy bonus

The use of such natural additives has the extra advantage of the health benefits associated with the extracts. Research from Oklahoma reported that the dried fruit has potential as a functional food ingredient since results from a rat study reported a potent effect on bone metabolism and prevention of the deterioration in bone mass (Bone, Dec. 2006, Vol. 39, pp. 1331-1342).

Source: Meat ScienceVolume 80, Issue 4, Pages 997-1004“Antioxidant properties of plum concentrates and powder in precooked roast beef to reduce lipid oxidation”Authors: M.T. Nunez de Gonzalez, B.S. Hafley, R.M. Boleman, R.K. Miller, K.S. Rhee, J.T. Keeton.

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