Meat Products

Meat Products

Quality monitoring and analysis of your meat products

Meat and meat products are an important part of the diet In Switzerland, according to the Swiss Meat Industry Association (SFF), in the year 2012, around 421,018 tonnes of meat and meat products were consumed, which corresponds to a per-person consumption of nearly 52kg. To ensure the quality of Swiss meat products, they are regulated by the state and are investigated regularly.

In accordance with Swiss Food Law (LMG), foodstuffs must be safe and hygienic; deceiving the customers is forbidden. More detailed regulations for meat can be found in the Ordinance of the Swiss Federal Department of Home Affairs (EDI) from the 23rd  November 2005 on Foodstuffs of Animal Origin. For evaluation, the Quality Guidelines of the Swiss Meat Industry Association (SFF) are often also consulted.

Are you looking for an accredited Swiss contract laboratory to monitor the quality of your meat products? We will test for you in accordance with the Swiss Book of Foodstuffs (Schweizer Lebensmittelbuch, SLMB) and the Quality Guidelines of the Swiss Meat Industry Association (SFF) for meat and meat products using the latest methods. Quick, competent, reliable.

Do you have any questions on the interpretation of the Swiss Book of Foodstuffs (SLMB) or do you require help in the evaluation of the test results? Then take advantage of our experience from more than 45 years of foodstuff analysis.

 

We will be happy to advise you.

Read on here for more information or contact us.


Quality-relevant criteria

Crucial for the assessment of the marketability of the product quality are primarily the chemical characteristics of microbiological status as well as the appearance, odour and flavour of the product.

Sensory testing

The condition, quality, freshness and decay of meat and meat products may also be assessed using sensory testing. Trained and experienced testers perform the testing. As part of the process, distinctions are made between the descriptive testing for assessment of the marketability of the product and the evaluative testing to assess the quality of the product.

Microbiology and Hygiene

Testing the microbiological status of meat products
Testing the microbiological status of meat products

Micro-organisms have a variety of influences on foodstuffs. On the one hand, they are used in the manufacturing process of meat and meat products (e.g. for refining), but they also have a decisive influence on the shelf life of the product (they are for example responsible for the decay of the product).

They are added as protective cultures or starter cultures (e.g. in the from of lactic acid bacteria or non-pathogenic staphylococcus) in the production of raw sausages to control the appearance, taste and shelf-life of the sausages during the fermentation process. Lactic acidification causes a lowering of the pH value and makes a crucial contribution to product safety as the multiplication of the pathogenic bacteria is inhibited significantly. Micro-organisms fulfil an additional function in the refinement of mould-ripened products.

As a rule however, micro-organisms are generally perceived in connection with the symptoms of decay and poisoning: Lactic acid bacteria, yeasts and mould accelerate the decay primarily of fresh meat, cooked and pre-cooked sausages and cooked cured products and decrease the product shelf life. Infections from pathogenic species such as salmonella, listeria monocytogenes or EHEC could, after consumption, cause serious and partially life-threatening illnesses. Food poisoning could be triggered by toxic metabolic products (e.g. staphylococcal enterotoxin or botulinum toxin).

The microbiological status of meat and meat products is, as a general rule, the decisive criteria for product safety. Guidelines for the permitted tolerance and limit values for pathogenic and apathogenic micro-organisms are given in the Food Hygiene Regulations (HyV) of the Swiss Federal Department of Home Affairs (EDI).
Meat processing companies must carry out regular microbiological analysis of the drinking water used and of the raw materials (hygiene of the slaughtered animal carcasses).

For companies that are EC certified, the exclusion of trichinella (meat parasites) in meat is also essential.

Chemical-physical testing: Quality and nutritional value

The chemical-physical composition in relation to the content of meat proteins, water, fat and connective tissue protein is dependent on the recipe and the selection of raw materials and contributes decisively to the quality of the meat and meat products.

Legal requirements about the quality of high-value raw materials and end products represent an equally large number of continuous new challenges for the producers as do the quality specifications from the retail food industry and the high expectations of the consumer.

The investigation of the declared nutritional values is performed in accordance with the Ordinance of the Swiss Federal Department of Home Affairs (EDI) on the Labelling and Advertising of Foodstuffs (LKV) and can be specified as the “Big 4”, the “Big 8” or the “Big 7” (according to the Food Information Regulation of the European Community).

Chemical-physical testing: Supplementary Analyses

Meat products: Analysis using PCR
Meat products: Analysis using PCR

Additives such as curing substances (nitrites and nitrates), phosphates, flavour enhancers (L-glutamic acid and monosodium glutamate), dyes and colouring agents or thickening agents are used for technological reasons to optimise product characteristics such as appearance, texture and shelf-life. The use of additives is regulated in the Ordinance of the Swiss Federal Department of Home Affairs (EDI) on Additives permitted in Foodstuffs (Zusatzstoffverordnung). The principle valid here is: “As little as possible, as much as is necessary”.

More and more consumers are suffering from foodstuff allergies and intolerances, which means that the exclusion of allergenic components is becoming ever more important. To protect the consumer from health risks and misleading labelling of products, freedom from allergens is tested by sensitive and specific molecular-biological methods (ELISA, PCR).
Product tampering with non-declared horse meat as part of the horse meat scandal has strongly shaken consumer confidence. Safe and secure detection of animal types in the product is also achieved using molecular-biological methods.

Chemical-physical testing makes a great contribution to the monitoring of quality and to the optimisation of formulas.

Foreign Substances (contaminants) and residues

Entry of foreign substances into foodstuffs occurs unintentionally due to impurities in the environment. Environmental contaminants are both ubiquitously (omnipresent) distributed (e.g. dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB)) and regionally concentrated (e.g. heavy metals). They get into the food chain primarily from the food intake of animals.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) such as benzo(a)pyrene arise from incomplete burning processes and could have carcinogenic (cancer-causing) effects in critical doses. They accumulate during the intensive curing of meat products. There are just as many methods for quality control as there are numbers of potential impurities. As a result, residues of pharmaceutically active substances (veterinary medicinal products such as tetracyclines, sulphanomides, chinolones, macrolides and amphenicoles) can be detected using the inhibitor test (oriented) as well as by using LC-MS/MS (on the individual parameter level). Heavy metals on the other hand can be detected by using element spectroscopy.

Declaration and marketability

Regulations, laws and recommendations such as the Ordinance of the Swiss Federal Department of Home Affairs (EDI) on the Labelling and Advertising of Foodstuffs (LKV), the Ordinance of the Swiss Federal Department of Home Affairs on Foodstuffs of Animal Origin and the Swiss Book of Foodstuffs (SLMB) describe the correct labelling and declaration of foodstuffs.

It is also forbidden to deceive: Designation and information given in connection with foodstuffs must conform with the facts and must not mislead the consumer.

Permanent updates to The Food Law and the increasing harmonisation of the Swiss Food Law with EU Law provide continual new challenges for producers and retailers.

We would be pleased to provide support for any questions about declaration and marketability.


Our services in detail:

Analysis of meat products: Fat extraction in accordance with Weibull-Stoldt
Analysis of meat products: Fat extraction in accordance with Weibull-Stoldt

contact person

sales for foodstuffs

Jörg Freudenberger State Certified Graduate Food Chemist

Tel. +41 58 434 42 00 Fax +41 58 434 42 01 service@ufag-laboratorien.ch

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