Endless Possibilities: Re-thinking the 5th Quarter


I have been working on processing the 5th quarter with a range of new and traditional technology. Here I feature our newest developments. This page is put together for the NPD specialist to feature end products and raw materials resulting from the process.

I consider two distinct product classes namely products for the end-user and for the food processors to be used as ingredients in the production of other products.

For more information on DCD Technology, visit: The End of the Rendering Plant

A. Consumer products


I combined 40% beef body fat and 60% beef tendons (which by itself contains 20% fat) into a fat replacer. Here is a video I did when I evaluated the product.

In evaluating the fat replacer that Tristan and I made, and realised the taste was exquisite!

I posted it on my Facebook page. Someone remarked that it does not look appetising. The purpose was to create something that IS delicious which we achieved. The next step is to make it also look delectable. We achieve this with combinations. There are endless possibilities for collagen combination products. I list a few.

1. Maple Pumpkin Collagen Shake

This delicious shake is made with antioxidant-rich pumpkin puree and collagen, containing 20% fat

2. Sweet Potato Kwass & Collagen Shake, or Sweet Potato Puree & Collagen Shake.

Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet (hence the name), and even though it’s not a common flavour for a soda, it actually works really well. Sweet potatoes ferment very easily, and I had a super bubbly probiotic soda in no time with this sweet potato kvass recipe! (www.growforagecookferment.com/)

We will re-work this recipe with DCD Technology.

3. Banting Beef Bone Broth, Collagen & Fat Mix

Mix dry bone broth into our collagen mix which contains 20% fat for a high protein, high-fat protein shake or to be sold in tubs as a stock replacer.

4. Vegetable Puree infused with Collagen

All dressings should contain a scoop of our collagen. It is great for use with vegetables!Vegetable puree has been shown to be a brilliant application of DCD Technology since it requires no e-numbers.

B. Industrial Product for Food Ingredients

1. Protein and Fat Enriched Collagen

Enrich the Collagen with pork stomach. Pork stomach on a dry basis contains 11% fat and 21% protein. The stomach proteins “coagulate” well which means that they are suited for inclusion in fine emulsion sausages. In combination with beef tendons, it blends into a beautiful fat replacer which is ideal for inclusion in canned products, bangers and other course sausages. The product settles into a firm solid homogenous mass after it has been reated. The new product has an added benefit for the formulation specialist in that it is packed with meat proteins and will contribute not just to the fat, but also collagen and meat protein requirements.

2. Beef Tendons with Beef Body Fat

The beef tendons contain about 20% fat along with collagen proteins. Infusing this with either pork lard or beef body fat change the properties of the fat in that it “contains” it during heating and it alters that mouthfeel considerably giving it a smooth, pleasant taste and mouthfeel.


The 5th quarter is one of the biggest opportunities for world-class new product developments. On this page, I share the various combinations we are working on. I will continue to feature end products and raw materials for further processing and will re-post this page from time to time.

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Chapter 13.01.1: The Castlemaine Bacon Company

Introduction to Bacon & the Art of Living

The story of bacon is set in the late 1800s and early 1900s when most of the important developments in bacon took place. The plotline takes place in the 2000s with each character referring to a real person and actual events. The theme is a kind of “steampunk” where modern mannerisms, speech, clothes and practices are superimposed on a historical setting.  Modern people interact with old historical figures with all the historical and cultural bias that goes with this.

The Castlemaine Bacon Company

October 1960

Over the years I wrote letters to my kids telling them what I learn. It was also a handy way to chronicle my experiences. Through these, they followed my quest to produce the best bacon and how the universe thought me about life through the discipline and science of bacon. The last time they visited they had a surprise for me. They compiled all my letters into a book and asked me to write an introduction to every section. They also asked me to complete the work which I left in limbo when I returned as the pressure of setting up a bacon factory took precedence. They even contacted Dawie and Oscar, who both sent them my letters. The letters I write from Cape Town under the section, the Union Letters and the Best Bacon on Earth is the product of their request.

What follows is the account of companies who achieved perfection in the large-scale production of bacon. I also hone in on the “art of living” by introducing you further to Jan Kok and his remarkable family and I use the Anglo Boer War as a backdrop to paint the final picture of what bacon taught me about how to live life skillfully. Finally, I pay a photo album homage to Woodys and those who joined me on this remarkable journey and my children and Minette who remain my partner in life. To this group, I must add Julie and Johann. Julie and I remained friends.

I give three good examples of companies who achieved what I sought namely to produce the best bacon on earth! I think that for a time at Woody’s we produced exceptional bacon and when Duncan and Koos took over, things took a dip, but they are recovering beautifully. They found their own rhythm. The spirit of Woodys created by Oscar, the rest of the management team of Will and James and I will live on forever.

What makes the first such company to profile an exciting story is that the main character who created the Castlemaine Bacon Company fought in the Second Anglo-Boer War on the side of Britain. My great grandfather, his brother and his dad fought in the same war, but for the Boers. It was a fascinating project for me to compare diaries and see what our, now two, main characters did at certain times. The two men are Wright Harris and my great-grandfather is JW Kok and I refer to him simply as Jan Kok.

Their stories begin much in the same way. Their faith played an equally important role in surviving the war and it established a legacy where hard work, faith, and opportunity, determining the actions of their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Both stories end with the creation of a bacon curing company!

The Anglo-Boer War

The exact cause why the war between England and the two Boer republics of the Orange Free State and Transvaal took place is not easy to answer. There is no one single reason. The easy itches that had to be scratched are obvious to see. The independent-minded, stanch, hard-line Calvinist Boers were looking for a fight with the most powerful empire on earth. They did not like the incessant mingling in their affairs. If they wanted to have black slaves and treat all non-white races as inferior, this was, according to them, their own business. On the other hand, individuals of the English nation had imperialistic aspirations for Africa and saw the Boers as inconveniently in control of the vast resources of the goldfields in Johannesburg and standing in their way to establishing English rule from the Cape to Cairo.

So it happened that a short but extremely costly and intense war was fought from 11 October 1899 to 31 May 1902. Some refer to this as the Boer War or the AngloBoer War, or the South African War. This was the first war of that scale which was fought, as it were, in front of the cameras lens. I dedicate an entire chapter to photos from the war in Chapter 19: The Boers (Our Lives and Wars) where not just the war but the Boer nation is featured beautifully. It is the backdrop of this work.

War is a dreadful phenomenon as it often sets in opposition, people who have a lot in common and who have respect for each other. Lord Lansdowne from Wiltshire, for example, a man whom I came to respect and admire on many levels became Secretary of State for War at the outbreak of hostilities. Faultlines in our human culture are accentuated during the time of war. Looking back at my own nation at war helped me to investigate our mental world and our reality as living life in our own mental worlds in a new light. The fact that I foresaw this war and the conflicts to come was the impetus for setting up Woody’s bacon which ultimately led me to a more complete appraisal of reality.

The inclusion of accounts from this war and the questions arising from it in a work on bacon appears counterintuitive, but it is exactly the hard look at ourselves and our people brought about by the heightened experience of the ether of life during the war, that took me back to the simple pursuit of bacon curing which the universe used to school me in the art of living.

Getting back to the subject at hand, for the life of me, I can’t remember who said this, but a bacon production manager in the UK quoted an English author who described the Boers as “stinking smelly bastards but they can shoot straight!” Such is the Boer soldier! England approached its other colonies to recruit soldiers to fight in South Africa. They recruited hardened and skilful men who could also ride and shoot straight, like the Boers. In this way, the South African War acted as a sieve. It highlighted good men on all sides. One such man, from Australia, was Wright Harris.

Wright Harris


Wright Harris before departure for the Boer War, 1900

The story of Wright Harris, the Australian protagonist, begins in England where his parents were married in January 1864 and migrated to Victoria, Australia. Wright was the 7th of 11 children. His father was a farm labourer and woodcutter. Wright remarked in later life that he left school at age 12 when hard work was the lot of most boys and added that “it didn’t hurt us.” Wright was a devout Christian. This heritage he got from his mother. By 1900 he was a regular lay preacher at many churches in the area. In this respect, he reminds me of our second main character, Jan Kok.

Jan Kok


Jan Kok at the house on Kranskop where he was born.

Jan Kok was born in the Winburg district in the independent Boer republic of the Orange Free State on 4 April 1880 to Johannes Willem Kok and Jacoba Elizabeth Theron. He was named after his dad. Altogether he had 10 siblings. The Orange Free State got its independence from Britain on 23 February 1854. Winburg itself was a self-proclaimed independent Boer territory since 1837 and was incorporated into the Free State in 1854. His grandfather, Johan Hendrik Christoffel Kock moved his family from Robertson in the Cape Colony to the Free State where he farmed on Besterschrik, 5km north of Korannaberg. Jan was christened on Windburg on 02 May 1880 and grew up right in the heart of Boer-self determination. His dad was himself a remarkable man. A veteran of the Basotho wars, he was commandant of one of the Windburg commandos. As a born leader, he had an indelible impact on the life of his son.

The Second Anglo-Boer War

War broke out in October 1899. The night after war was declared was ominous. A newspaper article in the 1900s described the scene that played itself out across the land. “All night the beacon fires had been burning on the higher kops. All night native runners had been scouring the country with messages from the commandants to the burgers. All night in many farmhouses the woman had been at work preparing the rations of biltong, and cleaning the arms of the patriots. All night throughout the length and breadth of the land prayers had gone up and the veld had echoed deep-voiced songs of David.” (The Philadelphia Inquirer, 1900) The aggression of the Boers who invaded Natal took the British by surprise and this gave them initially the upper hand. The British government responded by massing its forces from across the empire which included soldiers from Australia. Wright enlisted in February 1900 in the Victorian Bushmen Contingent.

Jack Harris in the Otto Würth smokehouse, 1993

P. L. Murray writes about the Third Bushmen Contingent in his work, Official Records of the Australian military contingents to the war in South Africa, “This corps was largely subscribed for by the public. It was resolved that, in lieu of drawing the men exclusively from the local forces, a class of Australian yeomen and bushmen should be obtained; hardy riders straight shots, accustomed to find their way about in difficult country, and likely to make an expert figure in the vicissitudes of such a campaign as was being conducted.”

An enormous number of candidates volunteered for enlistment. The men selected were largely untrained in military matters; 230 were farmers or with some connection to farming. The selection criteria were based on their ability to ride and shoot. The men were allowed to bring their own horses. Many brought two.

Wright Harris’s Victorian Bushmen Contingent, also known as the third Contingent Parades in Readiness to leave Cheltenham.

They left Melbourne for South Africa on 10 March 1900 aboard the Euryalis and arrived in Cape Town on 3 April 1900. Wright suffered from severe seasickness on the voyage to South Africa and wrote only two words in his diary, “sea sick.” Of the 261 men and NCO’s with 15 officers, 17 would lose their lives in the South African campaign.

Loading the horses on Euryalus for their journey to South Africa. Amongst the soldiers on board was Wright Harris.

Jan and his dad were involved in the bun fight right from the start. Jan’s dad makes no mention of being involved in the siege of Ladysmith in his war diary, but an obituary that appeared in a local newspaper after his passing claims that he was involved in the Natal campaign. Jan definitely was part of this campaign. He writes from Ceylon as a POW in his diary, on 16 December 1900, “Today it is 62 years after the victory over Dingaan. A year ago Reverant Kestel from Harrismith held a service for us in Natal under a thorn tree. Today I am a POW in Ceylon.”

Jan was on leave at home when his dad was fighting with Genl. Cronje in the efforts to prevent the British to capture Bloemfontein, the capital of the Free State. On 27 February Jan and his compatriots were forced to surrender. He vividly describes the scenes leading up to the surrender in his war diary. He writes, “The biggest battle at Paardenberg took place on Sunday. Something was set on fire in a large part of the camp. While the enemy continually tried to surround us they repeatedly used this tactic. The cannons fired without ceasing on us. The camp was almost completely destroyed when on the evening of 26 February we decided to surrender the morning of 29 February 1899.”

 He adds that “before I depart from the subject of this war, I want to address those who did not see this fiasco. No pen can describe the sadness that we endured and our eyes beheld. Almost all our horses were killed and were strewn throughout the camp. Our wounded lay in ditches under bucksails without a doctor to treat them. Yes, this I witnessed with my own eyes and I gave some water to quench their thirst. I got to someone whose leg was shot off. I asked him “How are you?” He answered me, “My Uncle, very badly!” I encouraged him. He politely asked me to come in and do a prayer for him. I complied with his request and then departed from him.”

“I could write more about this fiasco at Paardenberg but my pen refuses to write more about this suffering, or rather, it is I who don’t want to write about it any further. This is enough for successive generations to have an idea of what we went through.” (Johannes Willem Kok War Diary)

On 5 May 1900, the English invaded Windburg, Jan’s home town. His dad as a POW at this point gets the news on 8 May 1900 and writes in his diary, “We received word today that the English are in Windburg. It is not good news for us.” Jan himself makes the first entry in his war diary on 5 May and writes, “On 5 May the English occupied Windburg. On our farm, it was very busy on this day on account of the many commandos that passed through.” In the midst of these events, thirty-seven days earlier, Wright Harris and his comrades landed in Cape Town.

For Jan there was no time to lose and on the same day as Windburg fell on an autumn evening, the 20-year-old Jan Kok greeted his mum, took his rifle and mounted his horse. At 20:00 he rode off on commando (1) from their farm Kransdrif.

Departure of the Euryalus from Melbourne

As these scenes played themselves out, not only on Kranskop but on farms across the two Boer Republics, time and time again, from across the Empire, Britain was massing its forces and vessels sailed for South Africa and the men who came with the Euryalus were already on their way to the front.

From Kransdrift Jan and his compatriots rode to the farm of A. Nel, Kafferskop. In all, there were 11 people riding together; 6 from Winburg, 1 from Kroonstad, 2 from Thabanchu and two black people. They travel to Ficksburg, where they join the Kommando, and on 18 May they set off from Ficksburg to join larger Boer forces.

The Euryalus arrives in Cape Town.

From Jan’s diary, there was considerable disagreement about where they should go and which Boer forces they should join. The Australians, on the other hand, had none of the indecisiveness associated with a more informal military organisation of the Boers. As soon as they landed at Cape Town, they travelled to Beira and to Marondera (known as Marandellas until 1982), a town in Mashonaland East, Zimbabwe, located about 72 km east of Harare. Here, all the colonial Bushmen were formed into regiments known as the Rhodesian Field Force; “the Victorians and West Australians forming the 3rd, under Major Vialls. They marched in squadrons across Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) to Bulawayo. From there to Mafikeng where they were again mobilised and equipped and took part in one of the major battles of the war, the siege of Mafikeng.

Boer war 1

Photo supplied by Dirk Marais. Australian soldiers in the Anglo-Boer war, c. 1901

Wright noted the following entries in his journal at Mafikeng. 23 July, Monday. “Left Bulawayo for Mafikeng at 3 o’clock. Twenty-five in a truck, packed in like pigs.

24 July, Tuesday. “Ostrich running alongside the train. A halt for two hours at Palepwe to feed and water horses.” (I am not sure where Palepwe is. The name is probably misspelt)

25 July, Wednesday: “Met by an armoured train. Reached Mafikeng at about 6 o’clock, and slept out in the rain.”

Officers of the Third Victorian Contingent: Lieut W Strong, Lieut G Moore, Mr Cameron, Lieut H Trew, Lieut J Holdsworth, Lieut W McCulloch, Vet-Lieut Stanley Fletcher,
Lieut R Gartside, Captain D Ham, Colonel A Otter, Captain W Dobbin, Captain J Griffiths.

26 July, Thursday. “A look around the trenches and around Mafikeng. Saw the Boer prisoners, two sentenced to death.”

27 July, Friday. “Got our saddles. The ponies captured from the Boers allotted to us. Saw the guns that saved Mafikeng.”

28 July, Saturday. “Sent out to hold the river against the enemy with four guns. Got orders to go away and take three months provisions. Order countermanded (rescinded/cancelled).”

29 July, Sunday. “Church parade. Went to the Wesleyan church in town, had a grand service. Text Timoty 21 and 22. (This must be a mistake because there is no such reference. My guess is that it is 2 Tim 2: 21 and 22 which reads: “If a man, therefore, purges himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” On picket, got a piece of shell that had come through the roof.

British army (Western Front) under Field-Marshall Roberts marching on Brandfort in the Orange Free State, 1900 (Photo by Underwood & Underwood/Archive Photos/Getty Images). Foto by Leo Taylor

While Wright Harris was fighting at Mafikeng, Jan Kok found himself as part of a heavily demoralized Boer force in the Branwater basin. The capital of the Free State, Bloemfontein fell to the British. The Boer force where Jan was a part of included the Free State government and it was commanded by Gen Christiaan de Wet himself, the supreme commander of the Boer forces in the Free State. All in all the Boer force consisted of around 4000 men.

The situation for the Boers was dire. The British were at the point of annihilating all resistance in the Free State and dearly wanted to capture the entire Free State government. Gen De Wet made his escape plans and on 15t July he set out through Slabbertsnek with the Government and a contingent of Boer fighters. As the first phase of a carefully calculated plan was unfolding, the unthinkable occurred. A combination of quick and decisive moves from the English, poor leadership from the Boers in the face of enemy operations and the fact that the remaining Boer forces held a snap election when De Wet left and replaced Gen Roux, a DRC Minister and the man De Wet left in charge with Marthinus Prinsloo, a man, known to desire not to continue fighting and a huge morale loss amongst the Boer fighters all culminated in the Boer forces surrendering to Gen Hunter.

The events leading up to Prinsloo’s surrender is beautifully described by Jan who was an eyewitness of this monumental event. With compatriots, Jan hastens himself to Fouriesburg which temporarily served as the capital of the Freestate. He is assigned to guard General Prinsloo. He writes, “The night was bitterly cold. We slept in small groups behind the houses. Our group slept behind the house where Gen. Prinsloo stayed with his family.

The General must have received word of a night offensive by the Engish to capture Fouriesburg and he immediately moved out. Jan writes “We boiled out kettle in the house and at 2:00 the general woke us and we saddled our horses and we departed to a hill situated in the direction of the sunrise. We dismounted at the mill of Le Harp. We gave our horses fodder and we prepared some food for ourselves. The way I understood it was that the English were in Fouriesburg at first light.”

Jan and his compatriots were eager to engage the English. He writes that “when we saddled our horses our acting commander and his brother stopped us from returning to the English. We continued on and stayed on the farm of Mnr M. Heyns for a few days.” The English were in hot pursuit and he writes that on 28 July “we had to abandon our position.”

“The English engaged us with canons and we took new positions after about half an hours riding. The morning began violently. Our gunner could not return fire as he was pinned down under English fire. A short while after this, the attack with rifles started and continued to nightfall. Two of our men were wounded and one was killed. At this time we were very hungry. We were instructed to abandon our positions and move further. We were at this point not far from the kraal and we pressed on to Naupoort where we spent the night. The commandant and field marshal summoned us to a meeting and informed us that further resistance was futile. The field marshal was very stern and told us that the men were tired and negotiations would follow to surrender. When we left the meeting we sang Song (Gesang) 65:1. He instructed us to take our positions. A report was sent to the English General to inform him of our plans. The English officers and our officers met to negotiate. The English General insisted that the surrender had to be unconditional. Many Boers made sure that they could get to Naupoort on this day. We were completely surrounded by the English. The officers agreed to the total surrender and thought that we would be allowed to return to our homes and personal property. We, however, got away from all this with absolutely nothing (completely naked).” (JW Kok War Diary) Jan was 20 years old when this happened.

On 28 July Jan notes in his diary that the commando, under the leadership of General Marthinus Prinsloo, decides that it is not worth fighting any further since the Boers are heavily demoralised. They ask the British to negotiate a surrender.

The formal surrender happened on 30 July 1900, but Jan and his fellow Boers laid down arms on 31 July. On Monday 31 July 1900. Jan writes: “We have our weapons deposited on the surrender of General Prinsloo to General Hunter.” On this day he notes, “a time of new experiences and disappointment, for sure.


Photo courtesy of Dirk Marais. Boers surrendering at the Brandwaterkom (4)

The British took their horses and oxen and issued them with new horses. These were gaunt and sickly, and they set out for Winburg, where they believed that they would be free to go home. This mistaken belief came from the misinterpretation of a proclamation by the British that if Boers were not actively fighting and they pledge not to participate in the war, that they would be allowed to return to their farm and continue with life. It did not apply to men who surrendered during active combat as was the case with the surrender in the Brandwater Basin.

Jan, unaware of the fact that he would not be allowed to return to their farm Kransdrif in the Windburg district looked forward to being reunited with his family, having a proper meal prepared by his mom and sleeping in his own bed again. On 01 August 1900, he writes, “We continue towards Winburg and overnight at Fouriesburg. The treatment is everything but pleasant.” Despite the bad experience of the campaign, the subsequent surrender and the homeward journey, the certain expectation of imminent release must have been a great source of comfort and encouragement.

The photo of Cronje’s men at Modderrivier would have been the same image of Jan and his comrades. Photo supplied by Dirk Marais.

On 03 August 1900, they arrived at Slachtersnek. Many of the horses issued by the British at their surrender, by this time were either dead or in such a poor condition that they could not go any further. They finally arrived in Winburg on 09 August 1900. They were greeted by women welcoming them from the side of the road and Jan was reunited with his family and friends.

They wrongly expected to be released the following day, on the 10th. The reality dawned on them on 10 August 1900. Early in the cold winter morning when nighttime temperatures in Winburg can drop to – 3 deg C with icy winds, instead of being released, their expectation was betrayed as they were herded onto train trucks. At exactly 6:00, the train departed for Cape Town to an uncertain future. He later wrote in his diary about that day: “It was clear to all how the Boers (Afrikaners) experienced events of that day with the greatest disdain and sadness (afsku en smart).”

He describes 11 August 1900 as an awful day. Icy winds blew in from the north and they choked in the dust. The train stopped for a short while and children and the elderly were escorted off the train and sent home. At 2:00 in the afternoon, they continue to journey to Cape Town. The trip turns into an ordeal as they receive no food and at the many small towns along the route, the English soldiers enforce an instruction that there was to be no communication with other Boers. When the train stops at Worcester, Boers greet them with food parcels. At Paarl, young ladies force their way past the guards and hand the soldiers food parcels and addresses. The Boers who congregated at the station gave them an unexpected send-off.

As the train started to depart, a few voices started to sing very tentatively.

"Raise, burghers, the song of freedom
and our own existence as a people.
Free from foreign bonds,
Holds our small community
founded on order, law and justice
Rank among the states
Rank among the states."

As the train wheels gained traction, more joined in. The prisoners recognised it instantly! It is their national anthem. Sung in Dutch! The few initial voices joined by every proud Boer on the platform.

"Even though our land has a small beginning,
we step into the future with courage,
our eye fixed on God,
Who does not shame who builds on Him
and trusts in Him as a fortress
that does not yield to any storms
that does not yield to any storms"

Through the Paarl mountains, a crescendo of voices rose, the National song of the Orange Free State! Pride filled the souls of prisoners! Suddenly they felt pride again as it dawns on them that they were part of something bigger! Even in the former Colony of the Cape, they have brothers and sisters! A bond binds them that cannot be broken by the Imperial forces!

"Look down in mercy
on our President, o Lord!
Be Thou his recourse
The task that rests on his shoulders
may he fulfill with loyalty and eagerness
to the benefit of people and state
to the benefit of people and state

Protect, o God, the Council of the land
Guide it by your Fatherly Hand
Illuminate it from above
So that its work may be sanctified
and may serve to bless
fatherland and citizenry.
fatherland and citizenry."

Train truck after train truck left the station. The hearts of the burgers warmed! Their spirits, upright! Proud! Strong!

"Hail, thrice hail, the beloved State,
the People, the President, the Council!
Yes, may flourish at our song
the Free State and its citizens.
great in virtue, free of stains
for many ages to come!
for many ages to come!"

It’s a short ride to the Cape Town station where they arrive at 6:00 p.m.

From the station, they were transported to Green Point. He later remembers that “the Malaaihers (Malays?) and bastards (colourds?) were standing both sides of the street and mocked us all the way.” He described the experience in Cape Town in his diary as “intolerable!” The scene from their departure at Paarl repeated itself at Green Point. The inmates welcomed them with the singing of the national anthem of the Republic of the Orange Free State. It reverberated through the camp! They were sad, disappointed, disheartened, but Jan is reunited for a moment with his dad and his brothers who surrendered with Cronje at Paardenberg. Unlike his dad who would serve the rest of the war as a POW in Cape Town, Jan, along with most of the men who surrendered at Brandwater, including Gen Roux, the man whom De Wet placed in charge of the forces when he and the Government broke out boarded the ship Dilwara on 15 August. On 18 August they left Cape Town and stopover in Simonsbaai (Simons Town).

On 21 August they arrived in Durban. Aboard they were tortured by an infestation of fleas. They left Durban on 22 August. On 30 August, they anchored at the “Chysellen.” Here they were allowed for the first time to buy some fruit, “12 bananas for 6 “pence.” Jan later drew a map depicting the voyage to Ceylon.


A map, drawn by Jan Kok, of their journey to Ceylon.

On 8 September they arrived in Colombo Bay. From here they travelled 160 miles by train and arrive eventually in Diyatalawa.


At the POW Camp, he was assigned to Hut 54. On 24 March 1902, he wrote a letter to his mom. Below is the salutation and date of the letter. I attach the complete letter below in the notes.

JW Kok1.1 (ABW POW)

The letterhead of a letter Jan wrote to his mom from his Hut 54.

In later years I received communication from Radie Ferreira, whose grandfather was also taken captive under Gen. Prinsloo. He was the dominie (pastor) at Koppies. In his letter to me, he said that he had in his possession a bundle containing all the publications of the Christian newspaper, “Strevers” (probably the only copy in existence), which was circulated in the POW camp at Diyatalawa. In an addendum to the bundle are the names of 600 members of the “Strevers.” He writes: “When I opened it to see if the name of your great grandfather was there, the bundle fell open at Branch Vb and the first name, right at the top, was that of JW Kok, Hut 54, from the farm Kransdrift, Post office Winburg and a member of the Winburg congregation.” (private correspondance) (In die gebinde bundle met uitgawes van die Christelike tydskrif “Strevers”, (ek glo die enigste eksemplaar wat bestaan), wat in die Diyatalawa krygsgevangene kamp uitgegee is, is `n aanhangsel met die name van 600 lede van die “Strevers”. Toe ek dit oopmaak om te kyk of jou oupa se naam daarin is toe val die boek oop by Tak Vb en die eerste naam heelbo is Kok J.W., Hut 54, Woonplaats Kransdrift, Poskantoor Winburg en Gemeente, Winburg.)


Jan (JW) Kok in front of his hut 54 in Ceylon.

On 16 September a fellow inmate and an ordained minister, Ds. C Ferreira preached to Matt. 8:12, “But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” That afternoon Ds. Postma preached from Luke 18:10 (probably up to verse 14). On that day they were very upset that the “koelies” (a derogatory but common term for people of Indian descent) worked on that day, a Sunday as if it was any other day. Ds. Postma’s reading deals with that judgemental attitude towards others who do not observe and worship in the same way as they do.

He writes on 22 September that he and Gert van de Venter from hut 48 started a “Zingkoor” (a choir). He attended bible study at hut 63 where Ds. Roux spoke. It is safe to assume that this is the same Ds Roux who was in charge of the forces at Brandwater before he was voted out in a very suspicious way in favour of Gen Prinsloo who immediately surrendered to Gen Hunter.


Photo courtesy of Nico Moolman. A Boer POW in Ceylon (Shri Lanka).

For the young men in the camp, this was a time of great reflection and soul searching. On 1 October, he writes that “as I reflect on the past year and what happened to me, I cannot say anything else but that the Lord helped me through it all and that he can not but thank Him for all that He has done for me.” It is interesting that he named his son, years later, Ebenhaezer, meaning “God helped me all the way and brought me to this place.” He never told my grandfather why he named him Eben. It was not a family name and must have been done deliberately in a time when conservative farmers gave their children the names of their parents or grandparents. From this entry in his diary, I can see how important this thought was to him and, especially in Afrikaans, the wording is similar to the words used in the bible from where we get the meaning of the name, Ebenhaezer. I suspect that in naming his son Eben, Jan was celebrating God’s faithfulness by allowing him to return and have his own family.

There were also ministers in the camp who used Sunday school for a time to criticize the fact that they laid down arms. Ds. Roux accused them of being selfish when they surrendered and said that they were only feeling sorry for their horses and were homesick.

He spends lots of time attending bible study and Sunday school. On 3 January, when a school was started, he attended. On 7 January he mentions that there was a mission prayer meeting and he starts to attend a missions class.


Boer prisoners of war at the Sunday service in Diyatalawa camp on Ceylon. Post and photo by Dirk Marais

All the photos from Diyatalawa are grouped in one album: Diyatalawa.

His grandson, Ds. Jan Kok (my uncle), wrote a dissertation when he completes his studies as a Dutch Reformed minister, about the development of missionary zeal in the POW camps and indeed, many of the POW’s returned home to become missionaries. This was later published under the title “Sonderlinge Vrug” (special or unusual fruit).

Jan became one of the founders of the “Zuid-Afrikaansche Pennie Vereniging” on 1 June 1902. The goal of the organisation was to promote the missionary course and through this, to expand the Kingdom of God. On 31 July, as Jan surrenders and is taken POW, Wright Harris is still very much part of the siege of Mafikeng and writes in his own diary, “Called out to wait for the Boers at daylight. Ordered not to start.” 1 August, Wright notes, “Starting out for Mafikeng. Passed Boer trenches.

He survives the campaign, but his health deteriorates. He suffers horrible bouts of severe illness. His Christian faith sustains him through everything, like Jan Kok in the Diyatalawa camp. Wright also continues to attend church parades, tent meetings, bible readings, and prayer meetings. I wonder if he could have imagined that on the Boer side there were men with much the same commitment and a common experience of faith with him.

In early October, as Jan was getting used to life as a prisoner of war, Wright Harris contracted deadly typhoid fever. He was taken to hospital where he lay for weeks, delirious and close to death. He was so severely sick that he later becomes convinced that his eventual recovery was a miracle. As soon as he has sufficiently recovered, he was sent back to Australia and arrived in Melbourne in early February 1901.

Jan (JW Kok and friends

Jan (JW) Kok and his bungalow mates. He is back row, 1st from the right.

Wright, deeply committed to his faith, undertook a year of church work in New Zealand, following the war. Jan was eventually released on 5 December 1902 and returned to South Africa on 27 December.

Followng the War

There is a deep belief among the young men at these camps that a reason for the war was that they did not do everything in their power to spread Christianity among the native African tribes. It was in a way, God’s judgment upon them for their inaction. It is therefore not surprising that after their homecoming, Jan enrols in the Missionary Seminary of the Dutch Reformed Church in Wellington. The collective Boer nations had matters to resolve that, in their interpretation of events, brought about such devastation on their land, and it is completely understandable and commendable that this became the passion of Jan’s life. Jan was confirmed in March 1906 in a mission church in Heilbron.

Wright did not have a nation to save and without the spiritual issues that plagued the young Boer-men, focusing on building his own life. He was ready to do whatever his hands found to do. Events in his life would steer him, not to full-time church ministry, as was the case with Jan, but to a life of business and bacon curing.


Probably through the Methodist church at Scoresby, he met John and his daughter, Janet Weetman. William Haine ran a butter factory in Kennedy Street, Castlemaine. He also ran a bacon company part-time as the Castlemaine Mild Cured Bacon Company, to earn additional income. Haine and Weetman agreed with John and Janet to take over the running of the bacon side of things and Weetman roped Wright Harris in to assist them. The three arrived in Castlemaine in 1905 and started the Castlemaine Bacon Company in a room in the butter factory. Together with John Kernihan they processed five pigs per week. John Kernihan and John Weetman were experienced craftsmen. Kernihan employed Weetman years earlier in his own bacon company in Northcote but lost his business during the depression of the 1850s.

Wright and Janet eventually married on 18 April 1906. John Weetman passed away on 28 March 1922 at which time Wright and Janet acquired the company and the land the factory was built on. So started a long and prolific history of the Castlemaine Bacon Company under Wright Harris’s name.


Back in South Africa, Jan remained faithful at the congregation in Heilbron for 39 years until his retirement in 1945. My uncle, Oom Jan Kok, who was named after his grandfather, followed in his footsteps and became a pastor in the Dutch Reformed Church. He faithfully serves in the Moedergemeente, Warmbad for most of his life. He tells an interesting story that when he was christened, this was done in the “black church” where his grandfather, and the man whose name he received, was the pastor in Heilbron. In those years this was of course not permitted under the Apartheid Laws. My uncle, Jan, needed a “doopseël” (baptismal seal) for some reason and it was eventually found at the “white church” (Heilbron-South) where his grandfather must have registered it.

I, in turn, am named after my grandfather, Oupa Eben Kok, and was destined to follow in the footsteps of my great granddad and uncle to become a pastor. My full name is Ebenhaezer Kok van Tonder so that I could carry the Kok name with the name given by Jan Kok to his son. During a year I spent in the USA after my own time in the South African Army (1988 to 1990), I returned to South Africa with a commitment to pursue a career in business. Bacon curing became my life! (2)

It was in researching an article on famous bacon curing companies from around the world that I came across the story of the Castlemaine Bacon Company and the link they have with South Africa. Since the founding of the company, our growth has been meteoric, much like Wright Harris’ Castlemaine Bacon Company. The Harris family now stands and looks back at a company that they eventually sold and they have in a sense completed the full circle, a road that we are still excited to be travelling and in a sense, continue to follow in their footsteps.



The great story of bacon curing is, from the beginning to the end, a human story. It took the best of humankind over thousands of years to create a dish that mimics natural processes that are part of human metabolism. The story of bacon curing is our own story in a very personal way. It is a science and an art – human culture at its best. Telling the story is telling our own personal stories. They are inseparable.

On Saturday morning I was standing in our own dispatch area, telling Oscar about this article and my attempts to make contact with the Harris family. The commitments, disciplines and great lessons from the words of John Harris and the inspiration we can draw from them.

As humans, we identify patterns, we learn, evolve and we connect. Looking at our own experience in Woody’s Consumer Brands fills Oscar and me with a deep gratitude and we take courage from the men and women of the Harris family with their remarkable heritage which is so close to our own. Bacon curing brings together some of the greatest stories on earth!


Graham Tonkin with sausages.

For a full discussion of events at the Brandwater Basin, see the next chapter, The Life and Times of Jan W Kok.

(c) Eben van Tonder

Further Reading

Lord Lansdowne at the War Office (1895-1900)


(c) eben van tonder

Bacon & the art of living” in book form
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(1) The Age, Melbourn, Victoria, Australia, 29 November 1899 reported in an article entitled “How the Boers Go to War”, The Boer process of going to war is simple enough. They have no clothes to change, no uniforms to don. They fill their bandolier, or cartridge belt, put a piece of biltong in their pocket, mount their horse and ride off. Nothing could be more simple. Biltong, it should be explained, is a sun-dried version, shredded into strips and wonderfully nourishing and sustaining. The Boers when out in the field, live on it for weeks at a time, and apparently thrive thereon. . . Everything is left to chance, and it is truly wonderful how they manage to escape all manner of horrible dangers. If they get wounded they hie them to the nearest farmhouse, where they are tended until they are well. If they get shot, – well, it is the will of God – their friends bury them and it is all over.

Practically every Boer is mounted, and although they have no regular constituted regiments, or, indeed any formal battle formation, they join together in what are called “commandos.” These are the aggregate collection of farmers and their sons from one particular district of the Transvaal, gathered together in a more or less heterogeneous mass, and under the nominal leadership of the veld cornet or the commandant of that particular district.” (The Age, 1899)

(2) I fell in love with Chemistry and in my mid 30’s decided to enter the world of food manufacturing. In 2008, Oscar Klynveld and I created Woody’s Consumer Brands (Pty) Ltd. with the ambitious goal of selling the best bacon on earth. Oscar himself is the son of a Dutch Reformed minister with deep religious convictions. I always loved writing and storytelling and when I discovered that the field of meat science is replete with amazing untold stories, I start a blog where I feature some of these amazing stories.

(3) Afrikaans: Boere-krygsgevangenes by die sondagdiens in Diyatalawa-kamp op Ceylon.

Hierdie gevangenes was hoofsaaklik van die Brandwaterkom, Oranje-Vrijstaat, onder Genl. Prinsloo afkomstig. Marthinus Prinsloo se oorgawe in die Brandwaterkom was ‘n vername terugslag vir die Boeresaak in die Tweede Vryheidsoorlog. Op 12 Januarie 1901 het sowat 630 krygsgevangenes met die Catalonia uit Kaapstad gearriveer, benewens die sowat 5 000 wat reeds in Ceylon was.

Genl. Jan Hendrik Olivier staan byna regs, middel, en di. Petrus Postma (met bybel, en aldaar bekend as “the fighting parson”) van Pretoria en Paul Hendrik Roux van Senekal staan sy aan sy in die middel van die foto. Eerw. Roux van Bethlehem en di. George Murray van Oudtshoorn, Dirk Jacobus Minnaar van Heilbron en George Thom van Frankfort sou ook in hierdie kamp onder dieselde omstandighede as ander gevangenes bly.

English: Boer prisoners of war at the Sunday service in Diyatalawa camp in Ceylon, who were mostly taken captive at the Brandwater basin, Orange Free State, under general Prinsloo. Prinsloo’s surrender was a major setback for the Boer cause during the war. Reverend Petrus Postma from Pretoria and Paul Hendrik Roux from Senekal stand side by side just right of centre, and general J.H. Olivier is visible at the middle, right. One caption to the photo was as follows:

The Boer Prisoners at Service in Ceylon. The prisoners are guarded by the King’s Royal Rifles, under Colonel Gore-Brown, Colonel Vincent being Commandant and Colonel Jesse Coope in immediate charge of them. Temporary hospital huts have been erected and brightened with pictures and illustrated papers, and officials of the local branch of the Bible Society have distributed Bibles and portions of the Scriptures in Dutch. These were welcomed and specially acknowledged by a letter of thanks by a prisoner known as “the fighting parson [Petrus Postma].” Colonel Jesse Coope, who is very popular, fosters productive manufactures and artistic activity among the men, disposing of their work through an agent. Tanks for the storage of water being required, the prisoners were invited to volunteer for the work at a reasonable rate of pay, and many availed themselves of the offer. The population of Ceylon does not exceed 6,000 [Europeans?], and the settlement of the Boer prisoners has had a wholesome effect, not only on themselves but on the Cingalese. The minister who is officiating (in the above photograph), is the “fighting parson” alluded to – the Rev. Mr Postma – and General Roux stands beside him. Olivier can be identified nearer to the right margin of the picture and several rows further back.

Source: Post and photo by Dirk Marais


OP 30 Julie 1900 het 4 314 Boere op Oorgaweheuwel (Surrender Hill) op die plaas Verliesfontein naby die huidige Clarens hul wapens neergelê. Die Britte het ook 3 veldkanonne, 2 800 beeste, 4 000 skape, 5 500 perde en 2 miljoen patrone in die Brandwaterkom gebuit. Dit was ‘n geweldige terugslag vir die stryd teen die Britte.

LORD ROBERTS, opperbevelhebber van die Britse mag in Suid-Afrika, was met sy vertrek in Mei 1900 uit die Vrystaat nie baie bekommerd oor die Vrystaatse mag onder aanvoering van genl. C.R. de Wet nie. Hy het geglo sy mag sou die Vrystaters in bedwang hou.

Einde Mei en begin Junie gebeur egter ‘n paar dinge in die veld wat sy houding drasties laat verander. Op 31 Mei verslaan die Vrystaatse mag die Yeomanry naby Lindley. Twee dae later by Swawelkrans, buit De Wet 56 waens wat vir die Engelse in Heilbron bestem was. Op 7 Junie behaal De Wet ‘n verdere oorwinning oor die Engelse by Roodewal. Dié nederlae het Roberts laat besef dat hy ‘n fout gemaak het om die Vrystaters te onderskat. Op 14 Junie gee hy uit Pretoria aan sy bevelvoerders opdrag om De Wet teen die berge in die Oos-Vrystaat vas te druk en te vang. Hy het gehoop, maar nooit gedink dat hy binne twee maande amper die helfte van die Vrystaatse mag sou kon vang nie.

Genl. R. Buller moes in Standerton keer dat die Boere noord vlug. Lt.genl. sir L. Rundle, wat ‘n sterk verdedigingslyn tussen Winburg, Senekal en Ficksburg beman het, het die suide geblokkeer. Genls. R.A.P. Clements en A.H. Pagel het die Boere van Lindley af oos in die rigting van Bethlehem aangeja.

Lt. Genl. sir A. Hunter, wat in bevel was van die dryfjag op die Boere, het van Transvaal via Frankfort en Reitz in die rigting van Bethlehem opgeruk.

Ná die Slag van Bethlehem op 6 en 7 Julie 1900 het De Wet en die Vrystaters dus eintlik geen keuse gehad as om suid in die rigting van Fouriesburg en die Brandwaterkom te trek nie.

Op 8 Julie 1900 bevind die hele Vrystaatse mag, behalwe hoofkmdt. F.J.W. Hattingh met die Vrede- en Harrismith-kommando wat die bergpasse oppas, hulle in die Brandwaterkom. Ook pres. M.T. Steyn en lede van die Vrystaatse regering was hier.

(c) Dirk Marais

My Oom Jan Kok het tydens ‘n biduur die volgende van sy oupa en my oupagrootje vertel.

Letter from Jan (JW) Kok to his mother from the POW camp in Ceylon.


(5) A few photos from my visit to Castlemain

War Photos Connected to Wright Harris

In the NSW Imperial Bushmen camp, South Africa, 1900. AWM A04298.
Marching down Collins Street, Melbourne before departure for South Africa.
At the Langwarrin Camp.
The Victorian Contingent Taking Horses Aboard
Members of the Third ‘Bushmen’s’ Contingent at the Langwarrin Training Camp outside Melbourne, prior to departure for South Africa.
Departure of SS Euryalus
People jostled on Queen’s Wharf when the Lucinda arrived with members of the Queensland Imperial Bushmen home from the Boer War

– Further Reading

Anglo Boer War: Australian Units

The Australian Boer War Memorial

Australian Bushmen ambushed on the road to Elands River, By Robin W Smith

War and Australia – Boer War


I liberally quote and use information from Bringing home the bacon: a history of the Harris family’s Castlemaine Bacon Company 1905-2005 / Leigh Edmonds. Monash University. The photo of Wright Harris, this source.

Murray, P. L.. 1911. Official Records of the Australian military contingents to the war in South Africa. Albert J. Mullett, Government Printers.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 6 May 1900, page 3

The Age, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 29 November 1899, page 5.

All information and photos of JW Kok supplied by Jan Kok in private correspondence.

Photos of the Harris family and Castelmain Bacon Factory from Leigh Edmonds, 2005, Bringing Home the Bacon, Monash University.

Salt in Bacon & the Art of Living

Salt in Bacon & the Art of Living
By Eben van Tonder
21 June 2021


In Bacon & the Art of Living, I dedicate three chapters to salt. It remains one of my favourite study subjects. The truth is that I only scratched the surface. It is a subject that I will return to often and I am planning to expand on Chapter 10.12, The Salt of the Land and the Sea. Here I present the three chapters for those who are interested in a more thematic study.

Chapters on Salt

Further Reading

I have written far more about the subject than is presented in my book on bacon. Those who are interested in exploring this fascinating subject further are directed to the following articles, all of which I used in compiling the three chapters listed above.

Please make contact!

Any contributions or comments can be directed to me at:

Email: ebenvt@gmail.com

Phone Number and Whatsapp: +27 71 545 3029

Cape Town

South Africa

The Complete History of Bacon.

Image Credit

The Charc’Tank

Hey there!

Join Gil and Eben every week in the Charc’ Tank where we talk meat!

Don’t expect an academic discussion. Having said that, we are not scared of scientific inquiry!

We talk informally about that which we love: meat!

We dont always stick strictly to a point by point script or even to any particular subject even though we broadly thread every discussion around a central theme.

What you get is:

  • Informative
  • Interesting
  • Fun
  • Relevant

From the tank:

(list of all podcasts)

#1 – What is Water Activity, and how does it relate to meat curing?

Further Reading: Water Activity

-> Water Activity and Moisture Sorption Isotherms

#2 – Microbes: Part 1 – Bad bacteria and hygiene in the curing kitchen


Further Reading: Microbes

-> Microbiology

New posts in your inbox

About us.

Gil started his meat journey in 1978 when he was just five years old. The first piece of “furniture” he bought with his own money when he moved out of his mother’s home in 1994 was a WEBER Kettle BBQ.

For the past 17 years, Gil has been curing meats as a hobbyist and commercial curesmith.  In 2019 Gil, with his family, moved to Poland, where he is now focused on building a digital media business promoting the curing of meat.

Eben created Woodys Consumer Brands in 2008 with Oscar Klynveld which grew to SA’s largest 3rd party bacon producer. He left Woodys in 2018 to focus on fine emulsion sausages and other interesting meat research projects. He writes extensively on the meat industry and continues to works in the trade as an independent consultant. He lives in Cape Town.

! Read more

Let’s hang out

Meat Emulsions – A Roadmap to Investigations

This is the Index Page for all work related to MDM and Blended Ham Products.

Meat Emulsions – A Roadmap to Investigations

2 October 2020

In April this year, I decided to put everything I thought I knew about fine meat emulsions aside and to start from scratch. This was a very hard week where nothing worked the way I wanted it to work. For a large part, I was flying on autopilot, disregarding my personal extreme disappointment with the world NOT working the way I thought it must work. For several days I was in the test kitchen from first thing in the morning and was the last person to leave. What emerged at the end of the week was not an answer, but a roadmap to the answer.

I went for a run when I got home and the enormity of the breakthrough dawned on me. Let me recap what I decided in April when I embarked on this journey. I questioned everything!

What is the role of equipment? What are starch-, soya-, rinds- and fat emulsions and why create it or use it in the final meat emulsion? What exactly are TVP and the various isolates? What is a modified starch and what are the differences with native starches? What is a food gel and what characteristics are required under which conditions? What is the role of meat proteins in gelation? What is an emulsifier and what is a filler? How did these enter the meat processing world and what has been the most important advances? What is the legislative framework? What is the role of time, temperature, pH, pressure, particle size on these products in isolation and synergistically, in a complex system? What is the role of enzymes in manipulating these? What are all the possible sources of protein, starches, fillers and emulsifiers? How do we enhance taste? Firmness? etc.

The subject is clearly stated by Gravelle, et al. “Finely comminuted meat products such as frankfurter-type sausages and bologna can be described as a discrete fat phase embedded in a thermally-set protein gel network. The chopping, or comminution process is performed under saline conditions to facilitate extraction of the salt-soluble (predominantly myofibrillar) proteins. Some of these proteins associate at the surface of the fat globules, forming an interfacial protein film (IPF), thus embedding the fat droplets within the gel matrix, as well as acting to physically restrain or stabilize the droplets during the thermal gelation process. As a result, these types of products are commonly referred to as meat emulsions or meat batters.” (Gravelle, 2017) I love this concise description and in it is embedded a world of discovery and adventure.

A road-map emerged. It is different from NPD in that in this stage of the game, I assume that I know nothing. I seek to learn as much as possible through experimentation and carefully selected collaborations, done in such a way that confidentiality is not an issue. I assume that I don’t know enough and that the information I have been given over the years may not have been the most correct or complete information. I assume that if I understand the various chemicals and equipment pieces better than most people, I should be able to arrive at answers that others are not able to.

My first task was to set out the framework for investigations. The new investigative techniques that became clear to me this week will only be effective within the right philosophical framework.

Test, test and, when you had enough, test some more!

Develop a way to do rapid testing of various combinations or products in isolation. Test per certain pH, temperature, particle size, etc. Test and test and test some more. Remember to keep careful notes with photos.

Find Solace in the wisdom of the old people.

Often, the greatest food innovations emerge out of an understanding how things were done hundreds of years ago. This is the basis premise of The Earthworm Express.

List Protein Sources

Make a list of all protein sources, their protein content, fat, fiber and other characteristics. What is the state of the proteins? Denatured? Damaged? Get samples and test.

Develop Rapid Test’s

Develop rapid test techniques which are quick, inexpensive and accurately mimics processing conditions. Fed up and frustrated with the restrictive and expensive nature of the test kitchen set-up, it was the realization how to do this that was my biggest breakthrough this week.

Don’t Trust Ingredient Comp’s.

Seek advice, but remember that staff from spice companies will tell you whatever they have to tell you to sell their particular product which may or may not be what you are looking for.

Understand your Equipment

Take the time to understand the different pieces of equipment who purports to fulfill a certain function and compare the results by talking to different production managers who use these equipment pieces. Is smaller better? Heat generated? Damage to proteins?

List binders/ emulsifiers

List all possible binders/ emulsifiers / fillers and test. Get samples and test.

Record and photograph everything!

Record everything. Inclusion (dosage), pH, temperature, reaction time, processing steps. Keep meticulous photo records.

Build an international network of trusted friends

Seek out the advice of people you trust when you run into a dead end. I find it best to have such a network of collaborators across the world. Pick the right peoples brains!

There is ONE least cost formulation for every situation.

I have come to the conclusion that it is merely a matter of data manipulation to arrive at the one ultimate “least cost” solution for every product, in any particular set of circumstances.

Separate the steps and logically group chemical reactions.

Group chemical reactions together and separate steps to achieve optimal results, thus creating different emulsions to be blended together in the final step.

Index to Articles and Notes

-> Chicken Meat – Thawing, Breading, Cooking, Browning

-> Collagen Marker: Hydroxyproline

-> Counting Nitrogen Atoms – The History of Determining Total Meat Content Before we get down to business, I examine the history of the development of the concept of Total Meat Equivalent and the equations which are laid down in legislation.

-> Emulsifiers in Sausages – Introduction. Understanding the role and chemistry of non-meat emulsifiers, extenders and fillers is currently widely used in South Africa.

-> Experiential Substitutes for Chicken MDM

-> Hot Boning in America First step towards a better understanding of the binding of proteins to each other and water.

-> MDM – Not all are created equal! Starting to understand the base meat material used in fine emulsion sausages in South Africa.

-> Notes on Alginate

-> Notes on Proteins used in Fine Emulsion Sausages

-> Notes on Starch. Characteristics and composition of this often used gelling agent are discussed.

-> The Origins of Polony The origins of polony informs us a great deal in its composition.

-> Poultry MDM: Notes on Composition and Functionality Here we start our detailed consideration of chicken MDM.

-> Protein Functionality: The Bind Index and the Early History of Meat Extenders in America The first consideration is the fact that different meat sources, and different parts of the carcass, have different binding functionalities. Here I also develop the history of binders, fillers and meat extenders in America and the birth of the analog product.

-> Special Projects 3

-> Soy or Pea Protein and what in the world is TVP? Here we start to learn about the functional properties brought to the fine emulsion by soy, pea protein and TVP by first understanding exactly what they are and how they are produced.

Over the next years, I want to make this approach part of my daily routine. I am interested to work with collaborators on various aspects of the project.

Let’s build our understanding together.

Cape Town, South Africa

Denny’s Beef Style Mince vs. Frey’s Veggie Mince

Product Comparison
By Eben van Tonder
24 August 2020


Meat products fall in the following three categories.

Pure Meat Products is where every ingredient except the spices come from an animal carcass.

Meat Analogues are starches and soy, grains and cereals which are made so that it tastes like meat but contains no part of an animal carcass. The question comes up as to why would a vegan, for example, who does not want to eat meat, buy a product disguised as meat, but which, in reality, contains no meat? Pure meat and meat analogues are therefore two opposing and extreme ends of the spectrum.

Meat Hybrids is the middle of the two and combines meat and plant-based protein, essential for the purpose of achieving a cheaper product. There is something deceptive about this class of products since it is often designed to mislead as to the real nature of the products (I say this, despite the label declaration, which is often still enigmatic to consumers). They think it’s meat, but it contains a percentage of non-meat fillers. This is almost always done to reduce the price of the product, which, in a country like South Africa, is not necessarily a bad thing. Affordable food, where “affordable” is relative to the income level of the consumer, is a very important consideration. It must also be stated that for the most part, large producers of this kind of products do not add as fillers and extenders, anything except high quality, acceptable and healthy products such as soy in the meat to extend it.

My personal preference is clear. I prefer pure meat products mainly based on taste and, to a lesser extent, on matters such as allergy which relate to health in that some of the fillers may be allergens. Taste of pure meat products can, in my personal opinion, not be matched in taste, firmness, mouthfeel, or any other organoleptic characteristics (the aspects of the end-product that create an individual experience via the senses—including taste, sight and smell).

Meat Hybrids I can understand, living in Africa where there is a long tradition of honouring every scrap of meat. My main issue is with meat analogues.

It was with this background that I was intrigued by Denny Mushroom’s range of meat substitute products they recently launched. When I saw it being advertised at our local Spar I immediately went looking for it, but due to its popularity, only the mince was left. My wife and I decided to compare it to soy mince.

In order to do any evaluation worth its salt, we find it best to pare it against a competitor. Here is our evaluation:

The Face-off


We chose the same basic method of preparation and ingredients.

Denny Beef Style Mince


Mushrooms (75%), Oats, Onion, Seasoning (Yeast Extract [Garlic, Sugar], Salt, Dextrose, Caramel colour, Silicon dioxide, Herbs & spices), Maize, Vegetable fat (Sunflower seed, Palm kernel, THBQ, Sodium alginate, Calcium sulphate, Dextrose, Phosphate, Modified Starch), Psyllium husk, Beetroot, Ascorbic acid, Flavouring, Guar gum, Potassium sorbate. 

Phrases like “meat alternative” and “100% Vegan Superfood” removes all doubt – it contains no meat.

The product looks like mince and it is obvious where the name comes from. I have a bit of an issue with the “Beef Style” part of the name since it creates an expectation that it will taste like beef. The ingredients list makes it clear that there is no beef in the product.

Final Evaluation

At first, I am disappointed by the “Beef Style Mince” when I realise that it does not taste like meat at all. My problem with it was, however short-lived when I took my second bite! The taste is “refreshing!” It is unlike anything I had before and is delicious! It stands on its own as a well-formulated product! Sure, it tastes nothing like mince, but it still is exceptional!

Minette and I both noticed that it binds well, meaning that it mushes into a meatball (well, not a meatball 🙈🙈🙈 but you get my point) 🤣 This characteristic opens up a world of possibilities for the chef and is also distinctly different from minced meat.

The manager at Spar told me that the mince is not selling as well as the rest of the range. In my personal opinion it will be a pity if, for commercial reasons, the line is killed.

I understand why they would never go there, but is ripe for inclusion in a food hybrid formulation. A thought for the future as a different brand name with a unique positioning will do well with it. It scores a well deserved 8 out of 10 for a refreshing taste, its originality and the overall product formulation! Hats off to the development team!

Veggie Mince of Frey’s


The product comes in an inner pack with gravy, but right from the start, one can see that it looks far less appealing than Denny’s product. The ingredients are:

Vegetable Protein (Soya, Wheat (Gluten)), Flavourings (Onion, Pepper, Maize Starch, Anti-caking Agent (E551), Savory Flavour), Vegetable Oil (Sunflower Seed), Wheat (Gluten) Flour, Potato Starch, Plant Fibre, Maize Starch, Thickener (Methyl Cellulose), Ground Coriander (Sulphites), Salt, Onion, Mustard, Colourant: Caramel IV

Final Evaluation

Similarly to Denny’s, it positions itself squarely for the vegetarian market with no meat. The taste was unfortunately such that I could not take a second bite. We threw it all into a bag and in the dustbin. It scores a disappointing 2 out of 10.

In contrast to this, I got up at 2:00 a.m. this morning and sneaked into the kitchen to finish the leftovers of the Denny product!


I understand why marketers link non-meat products to meat. They believe a meat point of reference will aid them in selling the product. Life may very well prove them right. Still, it is a pity, particularly in the case of Denny who produced a unique and exceptional product which should be able to stand on its own two feet, apart from the simile to meat. Why not call it Mushroom Style Mince? or Denny Style Mince?  Whatever you call it, it is a brilliant product!


– Frey’s is a well-respected producer and there are many of its products which I love and regularly buy. The Mince is only one of them which I will rather give a miss.

– The views expressed are purely my own. The products were prepared in an unscientific way and no blind test or other evaluation was performed besides merely my first impressions upon tasting it. I advise consumers to be their own judge if they agree with me or not.

– I refer to myself as doing the evaluations for the sake of not making my amazing wife complicit in my comparisons! 🙂 Reality is that I am a very poor cook and she is in a league of her own. Her sister and she practice cooking as an art and not a way to get food in one’s stomach! Minette, therefore, prepares all the meals – exceptionally well. I only enjoy and judge them with her!

Please email me on ebenvt@gmail.com for comments or suggestions. Feel free to comment at the bottom of this blog post!

Poultry MDM: Notes on Composition and Functionality

Poultry MDM: Notes on Composition and Functionality
by Eben van Tonder
5 July 2020


The mechanical deboning of meat has its origins from the late 1940s in Japan when it was applied to the bones of filleted fish. In the late 1950s, the mechanical recovery of poultry meat from necks, backs and other bones with attached flesh started. (EFSA, 2013) A newspaper report from the Ithaca Journal, Wed, 30 Dec 1964 is the earliest reference I can find on Mechanically Deboned Meat (MDM) in America. It reports on research done at Cornell State College of Agriculture in an article entitled, “New Egg Package, Chicken Products Are Among 1964 Research Results.” It reports that “mechanically deboned chicken meat was put to use for the first time, and improvements were in new types of harvesting machines.”

It claims that MDM based products would be available from 1964. “Late in 1964 Cornwell researchers began preparing experimental chicken products from this meat, which resembles finely ground hamburger.” It said that the new chunky type chicken bologna, was introduced in three forms: Chicken Chunk Roll, which is half chunk meat, and Chicken Chunkalona, which is 25 per cent chunks and 75 per cent emulsion.”By 1969, several American universities were working on these products, including the University of Wisconsin.

The Oshkosh Northwestern, Thu, 21 Aug 1969

By the early 1970s, the removal of beef and pork from irregularly shaped bones was introduced. Originally, the aim of MDM was to reduce the rate of repetitive strain injury (RSI) of workers caused by short cyclic boning work in cutting rooms of meat operations. A press was developed to accommodate this. The success of the approach resulted in a rapid acceptance of the principles and an incorporation of the technology across Europe and the USA.

As is the case with meat processing technology in general, despite recent developments of the process, the basic approach is still the same as the first machines that was built. Initially primitive presses derived from other types of industries were used to separate the meat from the bones, using pressures of up to 200 bar. A fine textured meat paste was the end-product, suitable for use in cooked sausages. Gradual technological improvements and pre-selection of the different types of flesh bearing bones pressed at much lower pressure (up to 20 bar) produced a coarse texture of higher quality meat that could no longer be distinguished from traditional minced meat (so called 3 mm or Baader meat).

Today, a wide variety of different products are available on the market from many different suppliers of every imaginable animal protein source. Legislation differs widely between different countries on the definition of MDM. They name and classify it differently and the astute entrepreneur will find opportunities in studying every aspect of this fascinating industry closely, especially in the maize of ever evolving legislation related to it around the world. As one country restricts its use on one front, other countries will be able to buy a particular grade or type at better rates and this will in turn open up opportunities in the buying-country’s market for new ways to use raw material which becomes available for it due to a drop in the price.

My own foray into this world took place during a year when Woody’s gave me the opportunity to spend almost a year working with companies in England. The project I worked on was high injection pork. During this time there were changes to legislation related to ground pork. I witnessed UK prices plummet on a commodity which, in retrospect, we should have pounced on, but I knew far too little about the sausage market to exploit the opportunity. My business partner in the company we founded and where neither of us are involved in any longer will certainly have a good chuckle remembering those days!

Between 10 May and 8 June 2012, at the Tulip plant in Bristol, England, we extended ground pork with 100% brine which was designed by a friend from Denmark. Brine was tumbled into the meat, heat set, chilled, frozen and sliced. Re-looking at the texture of the final product from photos I took, almost 8 years later to the day, I realise that we should have used it to create a fine emulsion for a sausage or loaves. Looking at the result of the 100% extension below, we could easily have targeted 150% or even higher. We could have landed the raw material at a very competitive price in SA if we created a fine emulsion base, extended 150% with rind emulsion added (instead of rusk) and used it as the basis for a number of fine emulsion based products at our factory in Cape Town. Evaluating what we did in Bristol, the heat setting, even in our course loaf-like product, was inadequate for proper gelation, which is clearly seen in the photos below.

All the photos related to these trails can be seen at: https://photos.app.goo.gl/LX6uZheqeBeUa1mWA

The lesson for me is that in order to exploit these realities, one must grasp the functional value of the raw material, which in our consideration here is MDM, but must most certainly include other similar products not necessarily classified as MDM, MRM or MSM such as ground meat or something similar. This will lead to an appreciation of the differences between various grades of MDM and related products, which will allow processors to develop new products and increase its bottom line / reduce selling prices of others as new MDM products become available and countries adjust its legislation to regulate its use. It all begins by understanding the basic principles at work in this immense and fascinating world. We begin by looking at the basics of poultry MDM.

I use the work of JM Jones as the basis for these considerations as was published in the work edited by Hudson, B. J. F.. Related to the functional characteristics, I rely on the work of Abdullah and Al‐Najdawi (2005). They set up to investigate the effects of either manual or mechanical deboning on the functional properties of the resultant meat and any changes that might occur in quality attributes, as measured by sensory testing. They also considered the effects of frozen storage. In their study, they compared 4 treatments: treatment 1: manual deboning of whole carcasses; treatment 2: manual deboning of skinned carcasses; treatment 3: mechanical deboning of whole carcasses; treatment 4: mechanical deboning of skinned carcasses. We will refer to these 4 treatments during our discussion below.

Production Methods, Meat Quality and Nomenclature

The process of mechanical deboning involves crushing the bones and mixing with meat and skin before the bone is separated out. Inevitably, crushing of the material leads to changes in the chemical, physical, sensory and functional properties of the meat, and meat colour is a case in point. This is one of the most important meat-quality characteristics, with a strong influence on consumer acceptance of the retail product.

Groves and Knight refer to EU Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 which defines “mechanically separated meat (MSM) as the product from mechanical separation of residual flesh from bones where there has been loss or modification of the muscle fibre structure. MSM cannot count towards the meat content of products for the purposes of Quantitative Ingredient Declaration (QUID) requirements in EU Food Labelling legislation.”

Today, MDM production take place in two forms. With high pressure and with low pressure. Low pressure MSM was previously called desinewed meat (DSM or 3mm meat) in the UK and it was shown that it has a considerable amount of intact muscle fibre structure similar to some meat preparations (made from hand deboned meat or HDM) and was very different to high pressure MSM. Based on this research and analytical evidence in the literature, DSM was considered in the UK to fall within the definition of ‘meat preparations’ in EU food law rather than that of MSM. By itself, this shows the major difference between High Pressure and Low Pressure MDM.

Groves and Knight reported that “an audit by the Food and Veterinary Office of the European Commission (FVO) was conducted in March 2012 and led to a change in UK policy to align with the Commission’s interpretation that DSM was treated in all respects as MSM, including for the purposes of QUID. This has significant economic implications as the value of the low pressure MSM is considerably reduced. It is accepted that there is no evidence of any increased food safety risks associated with low pressure MSM (DSM).” It is this classification change that I refer to my own England experience in 2012 and is my case in point of focus for the international MDM trade and opportunities created by a change in legislation.

Regulation (EC) No. 853/2004 further defines different rules for MSM produced by techniques that do not alter the structure of the bones and those that do. This is based on whether the product has a calcium content that is not significantly higher than that of minced meat, for which a limit is set down in Regulation (EC) No. 2074/2005. Calcium content is therefore a method of determining if high or low pressure meat recovery is used as opposed to the health issue, which was the case, early on in its introduction on the world stage.

Their report is very educational in terms of various production methods and serves as an excellent introduction into our study. An evidence-based review MSM vs DMS For now, it is enough to identify two main classes of equipment for producing MDM, High Pressure MDM and Low Pressure MDM machines. Even though Abdullah and Al‐Najdawi (2005) do not say if the MDM used in their study was produced with HP or LP, my guess is that it is Low Pressure MDM produced in Jordan. I mailed the author to get clarity on the point since it will have a direct impact on the points of application. For now, I will assume that Low Pressure was used.

Viuda-Martos (2012), generalises more in their definition of these products. Like many authors, they see mechanically deboned meat (MDM), mechanically recovered meat (MRM) or mechanically separated meat (MSM) as synonyms to mark material, obtained by application of mechanical force (pressure and/or shear) to animal bones (sheep, goat, pork, beef) or poultry carcasses (chicken, duck, turkey) from which the bulk of meat has been manually removed (Püssa and others 2009). They state that the deboning process can be applied to whole carcasses, necks, backs and, in particular, to residual meat left on the bones after the completion of manual deboning operations.

Importantly, they highlight some of the key challenges with this class of products in that the mechanical process of removing meat from the bone causes cell breakage, protein denaturation and an increase in lipids and haem groups and poorer mechanical properties. MDM is therefore characterised by a pasty texture of various consistencies, depending on a wide range of factors. The past texture is generally due to the high proportion of pulverised muscle fibre residue, and the presence of a significant quantity of partly destructured muscle fibres. The term used by these and other authors for this loss or modification of muscle fibre structure is ‘‘destructuration”. Recovered meat is generally considered to be of poor nutritional and microbiological quality and is strictly regulated in its use as a binding agent or as a source of meat proteins in minced meat products. (Viuda-Martos, 2012)

MDM is, therefore, used in the formulation of comminuted meat products and in the creation of fine emulsion sausages due to its fine consistency and relatively low cost. It is an important raw material in underdeveloped countries, due to its price. (Viuda-Martos, 2012) Groves and Knight remind us how important the naming of a substance is and how difficult it is in the case of this class of products. It would be a mistake to see MDM, MRM, MSM or any of the other synonyms as homogeneous product names and that without delving into the details of its production, we cannot fully know its functional qualities. Each individual product, from each different supplier, at different times (depending on input raw material, which is never consistent), must be looked at carefully and evaluated on its own.

There are, however, general observations that can be made related to the overall product class. If nothing else, what follows will give us a list of questions to ask and reasons why it is important. It will further give us an appreciation of the complexity of its evaluation and manipulation and the impact it can have on the final product produced from it.

Poultry MDM Stability

In general, poultry MDM has been shown to have more constant composition compared with pork, veal and beef MDM. Considerable variations in fat and protein content occur in poultry MDM. The amount of back, wing, neck, rack, skin (or no skin) or the ratio of starting material used and type of deboning machine and settings play a major part in final product composition. Deboner head pressure was increased x 3 to increase the yield from 45 to 82%; fat content significantly reduced and moisture content increased. (Hudson, 1994) This is an interesting observation. What could have caused the decrease in fat and increase in moisture? The decrease in fat was probably due to an increase in other components such as connective tissue and the increase in moisture probably refers to unbound water, which resulted as a result of the higher pressure and bone marrow. The addition of bone marrow under higher pressure was therefore less than the increase of connective tissues.

Rancidity problems stem from the method of production. Air with increased iron because of bone marrow are the major reasons. Additional fat stems from bone marrow and skin. Phospholipid fraction, as a percentage of total lipid content, is only at about 1 – 2% in poultry MRM. Over 60% of this may be unsaturated, oleic, linoleic, arachidonic acid. These acids decrease in concentration during freezing or frozen storage of turkey meats or nuggets made from chicken MDM. This (the decrease in polyunsaturated fatty acids) may be explained by reports that chicken muscle homogenates to contain enzymes capable of oxidizing both linoleic and arachidonic acids and one was found to be stable during frozen storage, being 15-lipoxygenase. (Hudson, 1994)

Iron in MDM acts as a catalyst in lipid oxidation is well known, but -> is it haem or non heam iron that plays the dominant role in poultry? Lee et al. say that haem protein, (50% of total iron) is the dominant catalyst for lipid oxidation in poultry MDM. Igene et al. claim that “warmed over flavour” of cooked chicken meat (whole muscle) is due to non-haem iron release during heating, which is the catalyst for oxidation. Kanner et al. say that one reason why haem protein effects lipid oxidation only after heating was that catalase activity was inhibited and this allowed H2O2-activated mayoglobin to initiate peroxidation. Related to uncooked meat, these authors report an iron-redox cycle initiated peroxidation and the soluble fraction of turkey muscle contained reducing substances which stimulated the reaction. Free iron in white and red meats of chicken and turkey increases in concentration with storage time and is capable of catalyzing lipid oxidation. (Hudson, 1994)

Decker and Schanus used gel formation to separate an extract of chicken leg muscle into three protein fractions. One catalysed over 92% of the observed total linoleate oxidation. Iron-exchange chromatography of this active fraction revealed three proteins capable of oxidising linoleate. Haemoglobin was responsible for 30% of total oxidation while two components (according to Soret absorbance) were non-heam proteins and responsible for 60%. (Hudson, 1994)

“Metal ions from the deboning machinery itself and calcium and phosphorus ions from bone may act as catalysts for haem oxidation (Field, 1988).” Also, mechanical deboning of material containing skin leads to a release of subcutaneous fat that tends to dilute the haem pigments present, producing meat of a lighter colour. The same is true for fat released from bone marrow during crushing.” (Abdullah and Al‐Najdawi, 2005)

Related to the effect of the production process on myoglobin, it has been proved that manufacturing MDM “has no effect on the myoglobin contents, although it may influence the form of that pigment, thereby causing colour changes (Froning, 1981).” (Abdullah and Al‐Najdawi, 2005) Much work in this area remains.

Modification of Poultry MDM and Functional Characteristics

-> Texturing

The paste-like nature of poultry MDM limits its use. Early investigations focused on ways to “texturise” it. This can be done by adding plant protein or by various heat treatments. Sensory properties are not always what is desired. (Hudson, 1994)

One method of producing MDM products is to use a twin-screw extrusion cooker. (Extrusion Cooking) Treatment of poultry MDM alone gives unsatisfactory results. The fat content of the material is too high. Satisfactory products similar to meat loaf or luncheon meat were achieved if, as binding or gelling agents, cereal flours, corn starch, egg white concentrate or soy protein isolate were combined with the MDM. (Hudson, 1994) This begs the question as to the gelling temperature of these products.

Alvarez et al. found that chicken extruded with 10 or 15% corn starch, lipid oxidation decreased as extrusion temperature rose from 71 to 115.5 deg C. They suggest that antioxidants were produced with increasing temperature. Hsieh et al. reported that a mixture of turkey MDM (40 parts) and corn flour (60 parts) increased in susceptibility to lipid oxidation above 110°C. The antioxidant BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) was added to the raw materials before extrusion. (Hudson, 1994)

-> Haem Removal

Haem pigments in the product impacts on product stability and in poultry MDM it has a tendency to create a dark colour in the final products. Much effort is expended to remove these pigments and so extend the range of products in which the MDM may be used. (Hudson, 1994)

Froning and Johnson showed that centrifuging poultry MDM would remove haem pigments. Washing procedures was first developed in Japan to remove haem proteins, enzymes and fats from fish during the production of the myofibrillar protein concentrate, surimi. A lot of work has been done to extend the same procedure to washing MDM. However, there are several reasons why surimi technology might not be applied directly to poultry MRM, viz:

1. Surimi is prepared from whole muscle while poultry MDM is isolated from bones after most muscle tissue is removed.
2. Poultry MDM can have considerable quantities of connective tissue in the final product, e.g. histochemical investigations have shown the connective tissue: muscle ratio of chicken MRM to be 1 : 1.2.
3. Fish mince is frequently washed during preparation, but water washing is not an efficient means of removing haem pigments from MRM.
4. Lee suggested the size of perforations in the deboner drum of fish deboners ranges from 1 to 5 mm, with orifices of 3 to 4 mm giving the best quality and yield of surimi. Poultry deboners seem to have a pore size below 1 mm and thus the particle size of the products will differ. Since the term ‘surimi’ has long been associated with the product isolated from fish muscle, it is perhaps debatable as to whether the term should be applied to the material prepared from poultry MRM.

(Hudson, 1994)

Other terms used are:

‘Washed mechanically deboned chicken meat’, ‘myofibrillar protein isolate’, (MPI), ‘isolate of myofibrillar protein, (IMP). The acronym IMP is problematic since it is widely accepted as an abbreviation for inosine monophosphate. Clearly some rationalization of nomenclature is required and perhaps a term such as ‘poultry myofibrillar protein extract’ would be more appropriate. (Hudson, 1994)

One of the earliest studies of poultry, turkey neck MDM, considered to be the darkest poultry MDM, was washed either three times in water or once in 0.04 M phosphate at various pH values, followed by two water washes. Then, the mixtures were pressed through cheesecloth to remove as much moisture as possible. The yield of paste from water-washed MRM was higher than that which had been treated with phosphate, but it had a darker colour. The researchers concluded that washing with 0.04 M phosphate at pH 8.0 provided the most efficient means of removing red pigment from turkey MDM. Froning and Niemann reported that extraction of chicken MDM with 0.1 M NaCI significantly reduced fat concentration and colour, and increased protein concentration. Others, using different washing techniques, particularly the use of bicarbonate as the washing medium, have found that either the protein content of the washed material was similar to that of the starting material, or was up to 7% lower. However, all agreed that washing drastically reduced the fat level of the recovered material. (Hudson, 1994)

Washing with bicarbonate appears to be the most efficient way of removing pigment from poultry MDM, probably due to the fact that the pH value of the slurry makes the blood proteins more soluble, there may be other factors at work to influence the final colour of the washed product. For example, Trziszka et al. found that if, following bicarbonate extraction, water washing was carried out at pH 5.5, the product was lighter than at pH 6.0, while the variable amounts of connective tissue present in the washed residue can influence the appearance of the material, as shown by Kijowski et al., who found that removal of connective tissue by sieving increased both the darkness and redness of water-washed chicken MRM. (Hudson, 1994)

The yield after washing range was 13.5 to over 62% of the starting material. Reasons for this variety may be the result of a number of factors such as source material for MRM, grinding of MRM before washing, nature of washing medium, washing time, adjustment of pH, number of washes, ratio of MDM to extractant and centrifugal force applied during separation of ‘meat’ and extractant. (Hudson, 1994)

Cryoprotectants, such as mixtures of sugars and/or phosphates, must be added for the washed material to retain its gelling and water-holding abilities during frozen storage. Washing improved the functional properties of the material – after cooking the washed MDM was more chewy, less cohesive and had increased stress values but the cooking losses from washed material were higher, probably due to the fact that ‘free’ water was absorbed during washing. The best indication of the success of the washing procedure is probably in practical terms measured by the performance of the myofibrillar complex in products. There have been a few studies who looked at this. Frozen-thawed, bicarbonate washed turkey MDM at a level of 10% reduced the fat level of frankfurters, while increasing the expressible moisture content and resistance to shear compared with control frankfurters. Scanning electron microscopy did not reveal any obvious structural differences between controls and frankfurters containing 10% washed MDM. Hernandez et al. reported – the protein paste from washed turkey MDM could be incorporated into patties at levels up to 20% without adversely affecting sensory quality. Trziszka et al. reported that up to 50% of the ground chicken meat in hamburgers could be replaced by carbonate-washed turkey MRM without reducing the acceptability of the product. A sensory panel gave slightly lower flavour scores to hamburgers containing the protein extract, although whether this was due to the ‘soapy’ taste reported by Dawson et al. is not clear. (Hudson, 1994)

-> Improving Emulsification and Gelation

“Since MDM is used in the manufacture of emulsion products, emulsifying capacity (EC) is an important property of the raw material (Froning, 1981; Field, 1988). EC has been defined as the amount of oil that can be emulsified by the material prior to the reversion or collapse of the emulsion (Swift et al., 1961; Ivey et al., 1970; Kato et al. , 1985). Factors affecting the emulsifying properties of a protein are: protein concentration, medium pH, oil temperature, mechanical force and rate of oil-addition during emulsification “(Galluzzo & Regenstein, 1978; Wang & Zayas, 1992; Zorba et al., 1993 as quoted by Abdullah and Al‐Najdawi, 2005.

Although the protein complex isolated from washed MDM could be of use in altering textural properties of poultry products, further possibilities of effecting such changes exist. For instance, Smith and Brekke found that limited acid proteolysis improved the emulsifying capacity of actomyosin isolated from fowl MDM, as well as improving the quality of heat-set gels. Kurth used a model system to demonstrate the crosslinking of myosin and casein by a Ca-dependent acyltransfer reaction catalysed by transglutaminase (EC; R-glutaminyl peptide amine gamma-glutamyl transferase). Application of the technique to actomyosin prepared from turkey MDM showed that actin did not polymerize, but that the disappearance of myosin monomer was accompanied by a concomitant increase in polymer content and that the gel strength of enzyme-treated protein was greater. The polymerization could occur at temperatures as low as 4°C, thus opening up possibilities for the manufacture of new products. (Hudson, 1994)

Emulsifying capacity

MDM Mean Values
(Abdullah and Al‐Najdawi, 2005)

“Mean EC values are presented in Table 1 and show significantly higher values for both kinds of deboned meat without skin (treatment 2: manual deboning of skinned carcasses; treatment 4: mechanical deboning of skinned carcasses.). The presence of skin in MDM is considered detrimental to EC, because of its collagen content, and this view is supported by the significantly lower EC value obtained for MDM prepared from whole carcases (treatment 3: mechanical deboning of whole carcasses), in comparison with that from skinned carcasses (treatment 4: mechanical deboning of skinned carcasses). Deboning of skinned carcasses by hand (Treatment 2: manual deboning of skinned carcasses) significantly increased the proportion of insoluble protein in the meat (Table 1), which can have an adverse effect on EC. However, this would be counterbalanced, to some extent, by the relatively low pH of the material that would increase protein solubility. Increased levels of insoluble protein could lead to protein enveloping the added oil droplets, thereby reducing the total amount of oil that is available to be emulsified (Swift, et al., 1961). The concentration of protein is also critical in relation to its own stability. When the concentration is sufficiently low, the protein structure unfolds to a degree that favours stability (Ivey et al., 1970).” (Abdullah and Al‐Najdawi, 2005)

MDM EC during Freezing
(Abdullah and Al‐Najdawi, 2005)

“It is clear from Table 2, that EC values increased significantly during frozen storage of manually deboned meat, but declined in the case of MDM obtained from skinned carcasses (Treatment 4: mechanical deboning of skinned carcasses). These changes occurred exclusively during months 1 and 2, with no significant effect subsequently for any treatment group. The initial decline in EC values for Treatment 4 may be attributable to the partial denaturation of protein. Accordingly, the corresponding increase in EC for manually-deboned meat is likely to reflect the absence of any mechanical damage to the structure of the meat. In this state, the protein would remain largely intact.” (Abdullah and Al‐Najdawi, 2005)

Poultry MDM: Water Holding Capacity

“Another important property of meat used for product manufacture is water-holding capacity (WHC). Like other meats, poultry contains approximately 70% water in the raw state, much of which is not tightly bound and is known as ‘free water’ (Baker & Bruce, 1989). The WHC of muscle foods has been used as an index of palatability, microbial quality and manufacturing potential (Dagbjartsson & Solberg, 1972). It is highly important in the formulation, processing, cooking and freezing of meat products, because it relates to weight loss and ultimate quality of the finished product (Field, 1988). Factors affecting WHC are pH value, presence of iron, copper, calcium and magnesium from bone, content of skin and collagen, and the processes of cooking and freezing.” (Abdullah and Al‐Najdawi, 2005)

The pH values “obtained from mechanically deboned material (mechanical deboning of whole carcasses and mechanical deboning of skinned carcasses) were significantly higher than the values for manually-deboned meat (manual deboning of whole carcasses and manual deboning of skinned carcasses). This may be explained by the unavoidable incorporation of bone marrow in the MDM, which therefore had a higher pH. Crushing of the bones also would have released mineral substances capable of contributing to the increase in pH (Zorba et al., 1993), as well as raising the protein content and concentration of free amino acids. At higher pH values, protein solubility would be increased, limiting any possible improvement in the functional properties of the meat.” (Abdullah and Al‐Najdawi, 2005)

(Abdullah and Al‐Najdawi, 2005)

“There were no significant differences between treatment groups in relation to WHC (Table 3). Thus, neither the presence of skin nor the method of deboning influenced WHC values. The absence of a skin effect is in agreement with Field (1988), and the collagen content of MDM may have been too low. However, while mechanical deboning could have affected WHC, because of the higher pH values obtained (Table 1), this was not the case (cf. Demos & Mandigo, 1995).” (Abdullah and Al‐Najdawi, 2005)

MDM Changes in WHC During Freeze storage
(Abdullah and Al‐Najdawi, 2005)

“Table 4 shows that frozen storage only affected the meat from skinned carcasses, whether manually- or mechanically-deboned. WHC values declined significantly over the 3-month period, possibly because of the lower fat content and therefore greater rate of protein denaturation.” (Abdullah and Al‐Najdawi, 2005)

Poultry MDM and Pigment Concentration

MDM and Pigment Concentration
(Abdullah and Al‐Najdawi, 2005)

“Table 5 shows the differences between the experimental treatments for pigment concentration, which would have included both haemoglobin and myoglobin. It is evident that the mean value was significantly higher for MDM without skin (Treatment 4: mechanical deboning of skinned carcasses) and lowest in meat from manually deboned, whole carcasses (Treatment 1: manual deboning of whole carcasses). Pigment concentrations in meat obtained by either method of deboning were clearly influenced by the presence of skin, and were lower when skin was present, possibly because of a dilution effect. However, differences in this respect between whole and skinned carcasses were less for those that had been deboned mechanically. The higher values obtained are consistent with a release of haemoglobin from bone marrow during mechanical deboning.” (Abdullah and Al‐Najdawi, 2005)

“Meat colour was not measured instrumentally in this study, but some variation in colour was apparent. It may have involved the conversion of myoglobin to oxymyoglobin in MDM and binding of ions from the metal surface of the deboner to the haem pigment (Froning, 1981; Demos & Mandigo, 1995). Possible pH effects in MDM, resulting from the release of bone marrow, could have led to changes in the structure of myofibrillar protein and may have increased the amount of myoglobin extracted. Also, pH is known to be capable of influencing the porphyrin ring-structure of meat pigments through its effect on iron.” (Abdullah and Al‐Najdawi, 2005)

“Changes in pigment concentration during frozen storage are shown in Table 6. Results indicate that pigment levels either remained static or diminished over time. For manually-deboned carcasses, there was a significant decline when skin and its associated fat were absent, but not when skin was present, suggesting a possible protective effect in limiting pigment oxidation (Field, 1988). No such effect was observed for mechanical deboning, where oxidation of pigment would be more likely, because of the release of potentially oxidising substances.” (Abdullah and Al‐Najdawi, 2005)

Poultry MDM: Sensory Evaluation

MDM's Sensory Evaluation
(Abdullah and Al‐Najdawi, 2005)

“Initially, there were no significant differences between treatments with respect to aroma, colour, texture or overall acceptability of the meat, as judged by the sensory panel. After storage for up to 12 weeks (Table 7), aroma values showed little or no change for hand-deboned meat, but MDM from whole carcasses (Treatment 3: mechanical deboning of whole carcasses) showed a significant reduction in score that was indicative of deterioration. This change could be attributed to the higher fat content of the meat and therefore greater susceptibility to oxidation.” (Abdullah and Al‐Najdawi, 2005)

MDM Sensory Panel Score
(Abdullah and Al‐Najdawi, 2005)

“In relation to meat colour, manually-deboned meat stored for 6 weeks was more acceptable than either kind of MDM, presumably because of the lower haemoglobin content of the former. After 12 weeks, only hand-deboned meat from skinned carcasses (Treatment 2: manual deboning of skinned carcasses) was significantly different and more acceptable to the panel, although the reason for this is unclear.” (Abdullah and Al‐Najdawi, 2005)

“Meat texture was less affected by carcass treatment during storage in the frozen state for 6 weeks, and no significant differences were observed. After 12 weeks, however, significantly lower scores were obtained for both kinds of MDM. Thus, freezing may have further damaged meat structure and the presence of trace amounts of bone (Al-Najdawi & Abdullah, 2002) could have contributed to the lower panel rating. Overall acceptance scores were clearly better for the manually-deboned meat, both at 6 and 12 weeks of frozen storage.” (Abdullah and Al‐Najdawi, 2005)

Conclusion by Abdullah and Al‐Najdawi

“This study has confirmed the role of skin content in deboned meat as a factor affecting EC, but has found no effect of deboning method or incorporating skin on WHC, despite differences between manually- and mechanically-deboned meat with respect to pH. On the other hand, the influence of skin on pigment concentration appears to be mainly a dilution effect. Although higher pigment levels in MDM could be attributed to the release of bone marrow during the deboning process, assessment by a sensory panel showed no differences initially between the experimental treatments in relation to aroma, colour, texture or overall acceptability of the meat. Only after frozen storage for up to 12 weeks, were differences apparent in both functional and sensory properties, and the study has highlighted the superior keeping-quality of manually-deboned poultry meat, according to a sensory assessment.” (Abdullah and Al‐Najdawi, 2005)


This is a work-in progress. As I expand the functional value of different MDM or related products, I will add it to this document. It is an adventure in discovery!


Abdullah, B. and Al‐Najdawi, R. (2005), Functional and sensory properties of chicken meat from spent‐hen carcasses deboned manually or mechanically in Jordan. International Journal of Food Science & Technology, 40: 537-543. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2621.2005.00969.

EFSA Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ). 2013. Scientific Opinion on the public health risks related to mechanically separated meat (MSM) derived from poultry and swine; European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Parma, Italy; EFSA Journal 2013;11(3) : 3137.

Groves, K and Knight, A. An evidence-based review of the state of knowledge on methods for distinguishing mechanically separated meat (MSM) from desinewed meat (DSM). Food Standards Agency & DEFRA

Hudson, B. J. F. (Editor). 1994. New and Developing Sources of Food Proteins. Springer – Science + Business Media. (Poultry – the versatile food by JM Jones)

Viuda-Martos, M; Fernández-López, J.; Pérez-Álvarez, J. A., Hui, YH (Editor) Mechanical Deboning, January 2012, DOI: 10.1201/b11479-30, In book: Handbook of Meat and Meat Processing, Chapter: Mechanical Deboning, Publisher: CRC Press; Taylor & Francis Inc.

Notes on Proteins used in Fine Emulsion Sausages

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Notes on Proteins used in Fine Emulsion Sausages
by Eben van Tonder
24 May 2020



I am interested in understanding the ability of gel formation of different meat proteins, their water holding capacity and the relative protein content of various ingredients used in making fine emulsion sausages. This is important, especially in South Africa where there is a heavy reliance on MDM/ MRD in emulation sausages. What can be added to increase its water holding capacity and firmness and can a pure but economical sausage be produced?

Different Meat Related Classes of Products

In making sense of this approach, it is beneficial to understand that we deal with three classes of meat-related products. I call it the pure, the deceptive and the dishonest, thus revealing my personal bias. Pure Meat products which, in my use of the term, means products where every ingredient except the spices come from an animal carcass.

Meat Analogues are starches and soyas, grains and cereals which are made so that it tastes like meat, but contains no part of an animal carcass. This is the dishonest or hypocritical class of products. Why would a vegan, for example, who does not want to eat meat, buy a product disguised as meat, but which, in reality, contains no meat? Pure meat and meat analogues are therefore two opposing and extreme ends of the spectrum.

Meat Hybrids is the middle of the two and combines meat and plant-based protein, essentially for the purpose of achieving a cheaper product. I call it deceptive because the consumer is most often misled as to the real nature of the products they buy (I say this, despite the label declaration, which is often still enigmatic to consumers). They think it’s meat, but it contains a percentage of non-meat fillers. This is almost always done to reduce the price of the product, which, in a country like South Africa, is not necessarily a bad thing. Affordable food, where “affordable” is relative to the income level of the consumer, is a very important consideration. It must also be stated that for the most part, large producers of this kind of products do not add as fillers and extenders, anything except high quality, acceptable and healthy products such as soya in the meat to extend it.

My personal preference for pure meat products is mainly based on taste and, to a lesser extent, on matters such as allergy which relate to health in that some of the fillers may be allergens. Taste of pure meat products can, in my personal opinion, not be matched in taste, firmness, mouth feel, or any other organoleptic characteristics (the aspects of the end-product that create an individual experience via the senses—including taste, sight and smell).

I am therefore interested here to learn more about the functional value of various animal proteins and fats and fillers and extenders, customarily used in producing fine emulsion sausages.

The Cost of Protein

In evaluating the options for a producer, one must first understand the real cost of protein. In the table below, you can see the relative cost per kg of protein sources, expressed in South African Rand. The buying prices per kg obviously change and you can use the following spreadsheet to recalculate it with the current prices. More importantly than the cost of the protein source is the inclusion ratio of protein in the different sources and the real cost of the protein.

Protein options in formulating recipes (source – Mellett, who happens to be the same Dr. Mellett, who co-authored the Mapanda study, 2015)

Protein Source Rand Price in SA % Protein Rand / kg Protein
Soya / TVP 14.00 48% 29.17
Soya Isolate 39.00 90% 43.33
MDM/ MRM 10.00 10% 100.00
Pork 80/20 36.00 16.70% 215.57
Beef 90/10 55.00 19% 293.33
Skin 8.00 29% 27.59
Offal 15.00 18% 83.33

So, taking the prices above, skin was, at the time of writing, the cheapest protein source, followed by soy TVP, then soy isolates, followed by offal and then chicken MDM. For knack, you need collagen.

Starch is an interesting ingredient. Tapioca Starch contains 6.67% protein (66.7g per kg) (eatthismuch) At the writing of this article, it is R12.00 per kg, which is R179,91 per kg of protein making it more expensive than MDM, but at an inclusion rate of around 4%, and with soya isolate at R39.00 per kg

The convention in SA became to use the cheapest protein source available, which is normally seen as MDM/ MRM. Add soy for better binding and pork rind, made of collagen protein, for even greater binding and gel formation. (Mapanda et al., 2015) In reality, it is done to make the products cheaper for the consumer.

The Extremities of Formulating a Sausage

There are at least three sets of characteristics normally taken into account when formulating a sausage.

-> Total Meat Equivalent (TME)

In South Africa, the minimum Total Meat Equivalent (TME) for different classes of meat products is laid down in legislation. Let’s review briefly the important equations which will be applied to the table of possible ingredients with protein percentages above.

The Dutch chemist Gerard Mulder (1802–1880) had published a paper in a Dutch journal in 1838 and this was reprinted in 1839 in the Journal für praktische Chemie. Mulder had examined a series of nitrogen-rich organic compounds, including fibrin, egg albumin, gluten, etc., and had concluded that they all contained a basic nitrogenous component (~16%) to which he gave the name of “protein” (Munro and Allison, 1964) from a Greek term implying that it was the primary material of the animal kingdom.

The term protein was coined by Jöns Jacob Berzelius, and suggested it to Mulder, who was the first one to use it in a published article. (Bulletin des Sciences Physiques et Naturelles en Néerlande (1838); Hartley, Harold (1951) “Ueber die Zusammensetzung einiger thierischen Substanzen” 1839). Berzelius suggested the word to Mulder in a letter from Stockholm on 10 July 1838. (Vickery, H, B, 1950)

Total protein % can therefore be derived from an analysis of the nitrogen content of a meat product. The following equation is used and is derived from the fact that proteins contain around 16% nitrogen.

% N by analysis x 6.25 = % Protein (since 100/16 = 6.25)

An example is if nitrogen, by analysis, is 1.85%, then the % protein is 1.85 x 6.25 = 11.5% (protein).

The protein content in lean meat is also known to be around 21%. The factor to convert protein % to lean meat is therefore 100/21 = 4.8 if we take the lean meat as 100% and divide it by 21. So, in our example, 11.5% x 4.8 = 52.2% lean meat. The equation is:

% Protein x 4.8 = % lean

We can combine these two factors to give us a way to go from % nitrogen directly to the lean meat %. 6.25 x 4.8 = 30 and % N x 30 = % lean.

A good summary of the thinking early in the late 1800s and early 1900s on the subject exists in the South African Food, Drugs and Disinfectants Act No. 13 of 1929 (See note 1). As an important historical document, it sets out the determination of total meat content. It essentially remained unchanged (apart from minor updates).

The calculations of total meat content are defined in subparagraph 4 (iv) which reads as follows: “In all cases where it is necessary to calculate total meat under regulations 14 (1), (2), (3) and (4), the formula used shall be:—

Percentage Lean Meat = (Percentage Protein Nitrogen × 30 ).
Percentage Total Meat = (Percentage Lean Meat + Percentage Fat).

-> Water Holding Capacity (WHC)

Non-meat binders are often added to meat. Such binders and extenders commonly include flour, starch, breadcrumb, cereal binders, TVP and rusk. Often these are used to hold and bind large amounts of water to reduce product cost.

There are legal limits that must be adhered to in terms of protein content for a sausage to be called a meat sausage. When fillers and extenders are used such as these, it is, however, not a pure meat product, and hybrids are created which contains both plant and animal components.

Here there is a major misconception. All animal proteins have the ability to form gels and to hold water. The functional ability of various animal proteins to do this, however, differs significantly. A thorough knowledge of these abilities of various components of the carcass is required to determine which proteins will be best to achieve what result in any particular sausage formulation.

My suspicion is that these differences were discovered as soups and meat stews were developed by early humans, which was probably motivated by the desire to soften various parts of the carcass for consumption. There is evidence that a centre of these developments emerged on the Russian Steppe. It is interesting that Russia also became the world leader in fine emulsion meat technology and the creation of hybrid meat products.

-> Taste and Texture

Taste and texture differ considerably between pure meat products and hybrids, which leads to my personal preference of the former. The meat industry employs spices as one of the major resources of making hybrid products more “acceptable”.

Animal Protein and Gel Formation

There are three functional characteristics of meat, important to our study, namely gelation, emulsification and water holding ability. It relates to meat particle binding and adhesion ability. Processed foods are the result of the combination of several protein functionalities. In mathematics we will represent it with a polynomial function. An example of this is a Russian sausage with its firm texture and juiciness which is the result of a composite protein network system which in turn is created by protein-protein interaction (gelation), protein-fat interaction or fat encapsulation (emulsification) and protein-water interaction (water binding). Even a slight change in ingredient composition and processing conditions are enough to alter the final texture materially. (Yada, 2004)

Yada (2004) summarises the functional properties of muscle proteins as follows:

Functional Properties of Muscle Proteins

Yada (2004) defines gelation as “viscoelastic entity comprised of strands or chains cross-linked into a continuous network structure capable of immobilizing a large amount of water. The process of forming a gel, i.e. gelation, occurs in muscle foods as a result of unfolding and subsequent association of extracted proteins, usually in the presence of salt and sometimes also phosphates. The rate of structural change, i.e. denaturation, is critically important. A slow unfolding process, which typically occurs with a mild heating condition, allows polypeptides to align in an ordered manner into a cohesive structured network capable of holding both indigenous and extraneous water.” (Yada, 2004) When producing boneless hams, the gel formed at the junction of the meat chunks is responsible for the adhesion and is responsible for the integrity of the product.

Cheapest Meat Product: Structure and Characteristics

The key ingredient used in South Africa in producing fine emulsion sausages is MDM/ MRM. It is the cheapest meat product, most often used as the basis for meat hybrids. (see MDM – Not all are created equal!) MDM is a source of meat protein which is “complete, containing all the nine essential amino acids.” (Mapanda et al., 2015) MDM is, however, mostly compromised due to the way it is manufactured. It also contains the least amount of protein on our table of proteins containing raw materials listed above.
The proteins and fibres are denatured / damaged to such an extent that even the protein that it contains is retarded in terms of its ability to form a gel and hold water. Non-meat extenders, fillers and emulsifiers are, therefore, often used to compensate for this. Such plant products often include soy isolate and soy concentrate. Animal products are also often used such as milk powder, whey powder and egg white. Pork skin or rind emulations provide firmness. Fillers are usually carbohydrate materials such as carrageenan and various starch materials (Mapanda et al., 2015) depending on the price point that the formulator is targeting. Low cost sausages can contain as much as 15% such fillers and extenders.

In the Mapanda study, polony was considered as an emulation type sausage. “Polony is formed by changing coarse heterogeneous meat into a homogeneous meat mass consisting of dispersed water, fat and protein, which during heating is transformed into a gel. Polony is regarded as a fully cooked emulsified sausage product” (Mapanda et al., 2015).

Skins or skin emulsions are added to provide firmness and knack, but soya and starch are customarily added to reduce the cost. Inspired by trends from Russia, there has been a trend from around 1946 (following World War 2) in the USA to employ various serials and starches in meat processing as a way to extend the meat. As such, soy protein has been commonly used. Large manufacturers of soy products aggressively targeted the meat industry to continue the use of soy as a meat extender. Spice companies became the preferred method of distribution and large amounts of money was spent on developing recipes that would include soy and starch. The industry preached that this inclusion was “beneficial” from an economic perspective and is healthy. They proclaim that soy is a good “replacer of meat due to its essential amino acids, whose composition (though slightly lower in quantity) is no different from that of meat.” Functionally, they pointed to the fact that soy functions as a binder of fine emulsion type sausages such as polony where it contributes to the water holding capacity and the emulsification of fat in the gel. The real benefit is that it’s cheaper and easier to work than meat, and by itself, this argument is without question a valid one.

POLONY: An Example of a Meat Hybrid

Let’s now look in greater detail at how different fillers, emulsifiers and extenders are used along with MDM to create a low cost meat hybrid. We follow work done by Mapanda, et al. (2015) where they investigated “varying quantities of chicken mechanically recovered meat (MRM), soy flour (S) and pork rind (R)” were used to manufacture South African polony. For the full article, see Effect of Pork Rind and Soy Protein on Polony Sensory Attributes.

Preparation of Meat

In the Mapanda study (2015) the meat components were prepared as follows.

Rind Emulation: “Pork rind is quite tough in texture. To soften it, it was precooked before use. 7.5 kg of rind was cooked in 7.5 kg (litres) of water. The cooking time varied from 4 to 5 h for the three batches of pork rind prepared. After cooking, the pork rind and water mixture was re-weighed and water added to make up the 15 kg before chopping the mixture in the bowl cutter until a fine, sticky homogenous mass called rind emulsion was formed. The rind emulsion was then allowed to cool to room temperature prior to weighing and vacuum packaging. The rind emulsion was subsequently stored at -18°C until chemically analysed or used in polony processing.” (Mapanda et al., 2015)

MDM/ MRM: “The only preparation done on the frozen MRM involved cutting it into smaller blocks for the purpose of easily fitting into the bowl cutter. The cut blocks of MRM were vacuum sealed and frozen until polony processing commenced.” (Mapanda et al., 2015)

Sausage Formulation and Analysis

In the Mapanda study (2015) the meat components were blended as follows with the following functionals added, resulting in the analysis as given.

“All nine treatments were formulated to contain 10% protein (equivalent to 48% LME). MRM, soy flour and pork rind all vary in quantities to maintain a 10% protein in the respective treatments. The percentage of water added also varied to maintain a constant product weight, while the percentage of additives was kept constant. Additives added were 8% tapioca starch, 1.8% salt, 0.016% nitrite, 0.3% phosphate, 0.05% ascorbic acid, 0.02% erythrosine dye, 0.1% each for black pepper and cayenne pepper, 0.03% ginger, 0.2% garlic, and 0.05% each for nutmeg and coriander. Each polony sample was designed to weigh 1.5 kg. Since 10 polony units were produced for each treatment, the total mixture of polony emulsion (meat and all ingredients added for emulsification in a bowl cutter) was 15 kg. ” (Mapanda et al., 2015)

Mean proximate analysis values (± SE) for the raw materials used in the production of the different treatments of polony.

“Order of adding the ingredients was the same, i.e. ingredients were added when the bowl cutter was running at low speed. After that, the speed was increased for the final chopping phase. The MRM was added and chopped first, followed by adding the salt, nitrite, the phosphate and one third of the water. This was followed by adding the rind emulsion. After that, soy flour was added into the bowl cutter and chopped for 2 min before adding spices and another third of the water. The tapioca starch was then added, after which the ascorbic acid and the last third of the water was added.” (Mapanda et al., 2015)


“The end temperatures after chopping the polony emulsion varied between 12°C
and 17°C.” (Mapanda et al., 2015)

Cooling Down

“The polonies were cooked in a steam bath for about 2 h to an internal temperature
of 80°C as measured by a thermocouple. The cooked polony was then cooled in clean running water prior to storage at 4°C until chemical, instrumental and sensory analyses were done on the respective samples.” (Mapanda et al., 2015)

Effect on Colour

“The redness decreased, in the Mapanda study (2015), “with an increase in both rind and soy proteins. Chicken MRM contains red pigments of blood (myoglobin and haemoglobin). The replacement of MRM with white proteins (rind and soy) reduced the red colour of the polony treatments.” (Mapanda et al., 2015)

“The present findings for pink colour are consistent with Abiola and Adegbaju, who reported that, when pork back fat was replaced with rind levels of 0, 33, 66 and 100%, the colour of pork sausages decreased correspondingly. The negative effect of MRM replacement with rind and soy on the pink colour of polony can be counteracted by adding more dye during the emulsification stage. In South Africa, dyes such as erythrosine BS can be added to enhance the pink colour of polony up to the maximum level of 30 mg/ kg of the product, Department of Health.” (Mapanda et al., 2015)

“In the treatments where rind was added, white spots were observed. The white spots were actual pieces of rind which resulted from incomplete emulsification of the pork rind emulsion by the bowl cutter. This negative attribute could be rectified by extensive chopping of the raw batter of the treatments containing pork rind.” (Mapanda et al., 2015)


“The replacement of MRM with rind levels of up to 8% and soy levels of up to 4% increased the hardness (firmness) of the polony treatments, while treatments with 8% soy were softer at all levels of rind. Similar results were obtained for gumminess (Figure 5). These results show that good quality polony with acceptable hardness can be obtained with up to 4% soy and 8% rind. Beyond 4% of soy flour, the products become softer and sticky. According to Chambers and Bowers, hardness is the most important attribute to consumers because it determines the commercial value of the processed meat products. Approximately 60% of consumers will be willing to buy a sausage with a hardness of 47.3 N and higher (Dingstad). However, higher values for the parameter do not necessarily mean better quality. There is a cut-off point above which the texture of comminuted meat products would be unacceptable.” (Mapanda et al., 2015)

Related to cohesiveness, the Mapanda (2015) study found that “the addition of binding aids such as soy and rind improves cohesiveness, as long as too much is not used (Trock). Chin [29] established that the use of incremental levels of soy protein below 3% decreased the cohesiveness of low-fat meat products. The current results disagree with the findings of Chin as some of the treatments of polony in which only soy protein was used, for instance at the level of 4%, showed that cohesiveness increased. A possible explanation might be the difference in the fat content of the products used in their study and in the current study.” (Mapanda et al., 2015)

“For sensory texture, the attributes analysed were firmness, pastiness and fatty mouth feel. All treatments decreased in sensory firmness due to an increase of soy and rind proteins. For both pastiness and fatty mouth feel, the mean scores for these two texture attributes increased in all samples compared to that of the control treatment. Feiner highlighted that the replacing of lean meat with soy protein and water, as was done in the present study, affects texture and firmness because the replaced meat proteins contribute positively to the named parameters. It can clearly be seen that an increased replacement of chicken MRM with pork rind and soy flour reduced firmness and increased the sensory textural attributes of pastiness and fatty mouth feel in all the polony treatments, except for the control sample.” (Mapanda et al., 2015)

Pure Meat Products at the Same Low Cost

The question now comes up, if a pure meat product can be produced at the same low cost as is done in the Mapanda study. The Yada (2004) study and the table of various functional values of different animal proteins is the first clue.

I again present this article as a “work in progress” study, as I did with other investigations. Results will be reported on unless a proprietary benefit can be derived. Any suggestions and comments can be mailed to me at ebenvt@gmail.com. All results of relevant investigations will be listed below and the controlling principle will be: “Why think, if we can test?” I embark on this voyage with great excitement!

-> Counting Nitrogen Atoms – The History of Determining Total Meat Content Before we get down to business, I examine the history of the development of the concept of Total Meat Equivalent and the equations which are laid down in legislation.

-> Protein Functionality: The Bind Index and the Early History of Meat Extenders in America The first consideration is the fact that different meat sources, and different parts of the carcass, have different binding functionalities. Here I also develop the history of binders, fillers and meat extenders in America and the birth of the analog product.

-> Hot Boning in America First step towards a better understanding of the binding of proteins to each other and water.

-> Emulsifiers in Sausages – Introduction. Understanding the role and chemistry of non-meat emulsifiers, extenders and fillers is currently widely used in South Africa.

-> MDM – Not all are created equal! Starting to understand the base meat material used in fine emulsion sausages in South Africa.

-> Soy or Pea Protein and what in the world is TVP? Here we start to learn about the functional properties brought to the fine emulsion by soy, pea protein and TVP by first understanding exactly what they are and how they are produced.

-> Poultry MDM: Notes on Composition and Functionality Here we start our detailed consideration of chicken MDM.


Feiner, G. 2006. Meat Products Handbook: Practical Science and Technology, Woodhead Publishing.

Mapanda, C., Hoffman, L. C., Mellett, F. D., Muller, N. Effect of Pork Rind and Soy Protein on Polony Sensory Attributes. J Food Process Technol 2015, 6:2 DOI: 10.4172/2157-7110.1000417

Yada, Y. (Editor). 2004. Proteins in Food Processing. Woodhead Publishing. CRC Press.

Photo Credit



by Eben van Tonder
26 May 2020


I came across this Anglo-Boer War photo of medical staff in the Bloemfontein Concentration Camp posted online by Elria Wessels. For those who are not familiar with the history, between 11 October 1899 – 31 May 1902, England fought a war against two independent Boer republics in Southern Africa to gain control of the lucrative gold and diamond fields of the Johannesburg and Kimberly areas.  Unable to win the war against a determined foe, they placed the women and children in over a 100 concentration camps while they enforced a scorched earth policy and burned down the farmhouses of the Boers. This provides the background for the photo.

I was struck by the prominence of the Bovril poster in the photo, appearing very deliberate and staged.  Further investigation revealed a fascinating history.

The Name: Bovril

The name, Bovril, comes from the Latin bovīnus, meaning “ox”. The inventor, Johnston, added the suffix, -vril, from a contemporary popular novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, The Coming Race (1870). It is a story of a superior race of people, the Vril-ya. They derived their power from an electromagnetic substance named “Vril”. Bovril is therefore great strength obtained from an ox. (Phillips, 1920) The essence of the meaning of the name is given in an advertisement in 1899 where it is claimed that it is “the vital principle of prime ox beef.” (Western Mail (Cardiff, South Glamorgan, Wales) 24 January 1899)

The Inventor: John Lawson Johnston

John Lawson Johnston

Johnston was born in 1839 in Roslin near Edinburgh where he was also educated. He studied dietetics. It was said that he pursued the discipline with a “thoroughness and pertinacity” with such “good purpose that, when, after the close of the Franco-German war, the French Government determined to thoroughly investigate the question of food concentration and preservation, he was chosen, as its Commissioner, to proceed to Canada, and make a thorough investigation of the subject. ” (The Isle of Man Weekly Times, 1900)

He was successful in the task given to him and “the French Government conferred on him the Fellowship of the Red Cross Society of France”. It is said that he realised the dream of Liebig to develop a beef concentrate “that should contain not only the stimulative extracts but also the nourishing fibrine and albumen of the beef.” (The Isle of Man Weekly Times, 1900)

“Returning to England he enlisted the cooperation of Lord Playfair, the friend and assistant of Liebig; Sir Edmund Franklin, Dr. Farquharson, and other leading scientists were quick to perceive the great value of Mr. Johnston’s invention. With their powerful endorsement and Mr. Johnston’s determined assiduity, Bovril soon became recognised as the embodiment of the latest scientific ideas on the subject of dietetics.” (The Isle of Man Weekly Times, 1900)

From the beginning, the invention had military applications as a prime objective and the British army became an important consumer of the new invention. The Marker: The British Army during the Anglo-Boer War and British Run Camps in South Africa. With a wide application in war theatres around the world, the South African War created a hungry market both from the perspective of supplying the British forces, including their hospitals and the concentration camps housing the Boer women and children. I am sure it would have included the many POW camps set up in Ceylon, India, Bermuda, St. Helena and in South Africa such as the Sea Point camp. It is here where our interest began because of the Bloemfontein photo of Elria Wessels.

I did some digging and found advertisements in British newspapers at that time, referencing its application in this war.

The Standard (London, Greater London, England), Fri, Feb 2, 1900
The Newcastle Weekly Courant (Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, England), 25 November 1899
The Standard, (London, Greater London, England) Tuesday, February 13, 1900

The Key Differentiator: What Makes it Different from Beef Extract

The following advertisement makes it clear what sets Bovril apart from all other beef extracts.

Belfast News Letter, (Belfast, Antrim, Northern Ireland) Wednesday, March 16, 1898
In the preparation, the highest quality of beef is used as opposed to meaty bones and other scraps of meat, used in the production of meat stock in the late 1800s. The advertisement states that it contains both the “NUTRITIVE as well as the STIMULATIVE constituents of Beef.” The terminology is outdated, but it is relatively easy to transfer it into modern day vernacular.
An 1896 publication explains the difference between the two. The author states that beef extracts at the time were analysed and found to contain “the mineral matter and soluble flavoring extractives of the meat only; the albuminous matter to which beef owes its nutrient value, being rejected during preparation.” (The New Idea)
It describes the process of making extracts of beef as follows. Meat is soaked in water. The resulting broth is strained through a linen cloth which is boiled down to a soft extract. During the boiling process, the albuminous matter is dissolved out of the meat. Due to the heat, it coagulates and in the straining process, is removed. What is left has the flavour of the meat, but contains no nutritional value. (The New Idea)
The effect of boiling temperature upon albuminous matter is illustrated by poaching an egg. “The water in which the egg is poached, if boiled down, would yield and extract about as nutritious as the extracts of meats prepared in this way.” (The New Idea)
As far as STIMULANTS of beef, this refers to the fact that such extracts contain the inorganic salts and organic bases of the meat “upon which its stimulating properties depend.” They then make the point that this does not mean that it is nutritional. (The New Idea)
Contrary to beef extracts, then, Bovril retains all the nutritional value of beef.

Mass Marketing: The Role of the Bovril Company

What set the South African War apart from all previous wars was the unprecedented use of war correspondents and cinematography. One news report claims that it was the first mass media war. “The newly literate masses of industrial Britain, serviced by advances in printing and distribution, turned out to be avid consumers of newspaper and magazine reports about the war. There was a demographic inevitability about this – between 1841 and 1900 the literacy rate shot up from 63.3% to 92.2% – and a corresponding inevitability that public opinion would begin to figure in military calculations. The paper that was really to benefit was the Daily Mail. It launched in 1896 with about 400,000 readers; by 1900 it had nearly 1m.” (Bringing it all back home)
“The conflict was also the first to be recorded in its entirety by the sharp lens of cinematography. The newly established Biograph and Mutoscope Company was represented by the pioneer cameraman William Dixon, who travelled out to the Cape with Churchill (for the Morning Post) and the Guardian’s special writer, John Black Atkins. From behind the huge elm-wood box of his machine, Dixon and his assistant took film which – sent back regularly to play in packed London music halls – would give the public a closer perspective on warfare than ever before.” (Bringing it all back home)

The Bovril company became one of the first companies to capitalise on these developments. They recognised the glutenous consumption of war reports by the British public and, probably on account of the widespread use of Bovril in the war theatre, they seized on the opportunity to use this for marketing purposes. The Guardian article (Bringing it all back home) describes this very well. Looking at many Anglo-Boer War photographs, one can see many are staged. The author of the article writes that “the need to get close-up human interest in film meant that events were restaged for the camera. Others simply never happened at all – setting the model for wartime fakes of our own time. A famous painting of the relief of Ladysmith shows Buller (the relief column general) and White (in command of the town) shaking hands heartily. “Nothing of the sort ever happened,” Nevinson would later write, amused at finding prints of the painting on the walls of pubs after the war. The image’s ubiquity lay in the fact that the Bovril company, recognising its power, used it as a marketing tool: collect so many coupons and get your free Relief of Ladysmith print.” (Bringing it all back home)

The Elria Wessels-photo that started the fascinating inquiry does, in other words, not portray the full extent of the war-marketing done by the Bovril company and it will be interesting to try and find more war photographs featuring Bovril as well as the coupons spoken about.

Bovril: A Legendary Brand and Legendary Product

Reference: The Province. Thursday, November 5, 1925

Further Reading

The meat of the issue: Bovril



Belfast News Letter, (Belfast, Antrim, Northern Ireland) Wednesday, March 16, 1898

The Isle of Man Weekly Times (Douglas, Isle of Man, England), 22 December 1900.

The New Idea: A Journal of Commercial Pharmacy, Volume 18, Issue 1; January to February 1896.

The Newcastle Weekly Courant (Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, England), 25 November 1899.

The Province. Thursday, November 5, 1925 Thompson, William Phillips (1920). 

Handbook of patent law of all countries. London: Stevens.

The Standard (London, Greater London, England), Fri, Feb 2, 1900

The Standard (London, Greater London, England) Tuesday, Feb 13, 1900