In meat processing the value of reducing particle size is a powerful technique to unlock functionality. This was done through meat grinders for centuries till the bowl cutter was invented. Later, the chopper made way for emulsifiers which is just a more effective way of reducing particle size even further. The latest development along this trajectory is, what I term, super-emulsifiers, able to reduce particles to microparticles.
A micron is 1×10−6 metre or one millionth of a metre or one thousandth of a millimetre (0.001 mm), or about 0.000039 inch. Microparticles are particles between 1 and 1000 μm in size. A bacterium is about 1 micrometer and human hair is between 17 to 181 μm. In 2016 I started working on a newly developed technology which reduce food particles to microparticles. The technology is pioneered by Green Cell Technologies and they call it Dynamic Cellular Disruption (DCD). It is a novel process that breaks up food particles using high pressure, high speed and other physical forces without using chemicals, enzymes or blades.
Particles are accelerated under pressure and over a very short distance to speeds of around 3 times that of sound. In terms of pressure, primary pressure of between 700 and 1100 bar is achieved and in the stepdown stage, pressure increases to between 10 000 and 60 000 bar. Particles travel through an aperture of 1000 μm and particle reduction of < 50 μm is achieved.
Machines are available that can produce anything between 1000kg and 10 000kg per hour.
The equipment reduces particle size to very small micronized particles (less than 50 μm) with significant benefits.
- It increases the bioavailability – makes protein more available without denaturing
- Extracting and reducing to a nano-level in a single step without using chemical extraction processes.
- It retain the parts as a constituent of the whole and achieves what normally can only be done through “concentration” in terms of bioactivation, flavour intensity and functionality. It thus avoids isolating certain ‘actives’. “Isolating” of actives brings its own host of problems. In fact, it is a problem in itself! Studies have shown that generally speaking, utilizing the sum of the parts in the particular natural material produces the greatest results. As such it stands to revolutionize the market for plant based natural antioxidants, functionals and meat processing at large.
- It dramatically increases surface area.
A Closer Look
Manessis (2020) lists in a review article on antioxidants, that “major challenges for the wider application of plant-derived antioxidants in meat systems.”
- The increased processing and storage costs of plants/fruits and the derived antioxidants;
- The marginal and constantly compressed profit from meat trading; and
- The increased amounts required in order to exhibit efficient antioxidant action (compared to synthetic antioxidants), which could result in alterations of the meat’s organoleptic traits (e.g., taste, color and odors) and, therefore, a decrease in its marketability.
All the concerns raised by Manessis are addressed through DCD technology. The processing cost of spices/ plant/ fruits are reduced. The cost of meat based formulations are reduced through a reduction in processing and ingredient cost. By increasing the bioavailability, flavour intensity and functionality of the active components through vastly reduced particle size, the required concentration is reduced (no need for increased concentration beyond what is found in nature).
The UK Food Standards Agency is known to place great emphasis on the following aspects related to the extraction of antioxidants and I compare it with DCD technology.
a. The exact extraction process used is important to them being either physical, chemical or microbiological. The question is how variations in the process can be eliminated. The use of DCD technology offers a simple disruption process where the source material is utilized in the form in which consumers will consume it in its natural state, including valuable components such as the peel which some consumer further treat themselves though drying or cooking before consumption but most throws it away. The constituents in the liquid/ gel/ paste following disruption will always be the same as in its natural form.
b. The concentration of extracts is of concern to the commission, through, for example drying. DCD technology does not concentrate anything. It makes what is already there more available!
c. The Agency asks the same question as above slightly differently. Does the extraction process result in high levels of antioxidants and/or other chemical components? DCD technology does not change or add to the normal, natural composition of the spice/ fruit/ vegetable.
d. It is important to be able to identify the ingredients added either as a food ingredient or a flavouring component. In determining which one it is, the Agency would ask if something added to the meat is a food ingredient or substance normally consumed as a food. In other words, the question is if it is “readily available in nature”. If the food which is included with the meat is a food ingredient and not a flavourant, it would fall outside the EU legislation pertaining to flavourants (Regulation (EC) No. 1334/2008). The use of DCD technology would clearly place this in the category of food ingredient as the entire fruit/ spice/ vegetable is disrupted and used.
The irradiation of spices has become commonplace since the technology was pioneered by Griffiths in the USA early in the 1900s. The high pressure of DCD required for particle reduction (cell disruption) also eliminates any microbes present. There is, therefore, no need to use spices that has been treated through chemical, radiation or heat technology which, by itself, is in line with consumer demands. It is one of those rear occasions where “better” costs less! Here in Cape Town, the difference between non-treated spices trough spice dealers are at least half the price of what is available through the spice companies. One could even buy from farmers directly and pay them a bit more for their produce. The technology makes it possible to utilize the leaves and roots also which will have a large impact on the product price.
– Non-Meat Functionals
The fact that particle size in soya and starches are related to their functional characteristics means that such substances that has been treated with DCD technology reacts with increased efficacy. In work done in 2016, we demonstrated that it is possible to use the whole soy plant, for example, including the roots, stem and leaves with exceptional results in fine emulsion sausages such as viennas.
In fine emulsion meat pasts, smaller fat particles, like other filler substances, is easier trapped in the protein matrix encapsulating it. It thus stabilizes the past.
– Increased Surface Area
DCD technology impacts directly on the surface area and therefore on Aw as well as crosslinking in matrix formation. Both aspects are enhanced dramatically.
– High Sheer Brines
The efficacy of high sheer brine preparations is well documented. Preparing brine with DCD technology have a dramatic impact on the quality of the brine.
– Meat-on-Meat Injection
DCD technology makes it possible to produce a brine from a variety of protein and collagen sources which is fully injectable into whole muscles. (Best Bacon and Rib System on Earth)
DCD Technology offers benefits to the meat processor which was never before accessible. Opportunities exist in the application of the technology in the meat industry at large in particular in relation to functional ingredients.
Case Study 1: Pork Rinds
Pork rinds DCD’ed.
Pork Rinds, Functionals and Water DCD’ed together.
Look at the product consistency. One could inject it!
Case Study 2: Creating collagen rich “smoothies” for the health industry or high quality pet food.
Animal parts rich in collagen before it is DCD’ed.
Creating “smoothies” for the health conscious or high quality pet food through DCD technology.
Case Study 3: Pork Trim 80/20
80/20 pork trim DCD’ed.
DCD’ed 80/20 Cured Pork Trim. The consistency is such that it can be injected, even under low pressure. Temperature is kept sufficiently low not to denature the proteins.
Case Study 4: Dcd’ed Fat Replacer After Setting Overnight
Collagen DCD’ed and chilled overnight to set.
After chilling overnight to set, the mix is minced.
After chilling it overnight, a paste is formed, stable enough for mincing and inclusion as possible fat replacer.
Manessis, G., Kalogianni, A. I., Lazou, T., Moschovas, M., Bossis, I. Gelasakis, A. I. 2020. Review. Plant-Derived Natural Antioxidants in Meat and Meat Products. Antioxidants 2020, 9, 1215; doi:10.3390/antiox9121215.