Shedding light on why it is so 'tough' to make healthier hot dogs
In part of an effort to replace animal fat in hot dogs, sausages, hamburgers and other foods with healthier fat, scientists are reporting an advance in solving the mystery of why hot dogs develop an unpleasant tough texture when vegetable oils pinch hit for animal fat. A report on their study appears in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Anna M. Herrero and colleagues explain that some brands of sausage (frankfurters) have been reformulated with olive oil-in-water emulsion as a source of more healthful fat. With consumers gobbling up tens of billions of hot dogs annually, and the typical frankfurter packing 80 percent of its calories from fat, hot dogs have become a prime candidate for reformulation. Some hot dogs reformulated with vegetable oil develop an unpleasant chewy texture. Herrero's team set out to uncover the chemistry behind that change with an eye to guiding food companies to optimize low-fat sausage manufacture.
Using a laboratory instrument called an infrared spectrometer (IR spectrometer) they verified that sausages made with heart-healthy olive oil-in-water emulsion stabilized with casein were slightly tougher. However, when frankfurters were elaborated with an emulsion stabilized with a combination of casein and microbial transglutaminase (to help the oil blend in better) the sausage became much tougher. The IR spectrometer revealed that the proteins and fats in low-fat cooked derivates formulated with this stabilizer system as animal fat replacer showed weak lipid-protein interactions, which implies more physical entrapment of the emulsion within the meat matrix. This fact could explain why those sausages are tougher than the others.
This article reports an infrared spectroscopic (FT-IR) study on lipids and protein structural characteristics in frankfurters as affected by an emulsified olive oil stabilizing system used as a pork backfat replacer. The oil-in-water emulsions were stabilized with sodium caseinate, without (F/SC) and with microbial transglutaminase (F/SC+MTG). Proximate composition and textural characteristics were also evaluated. Frankfurters F/SC+MTG showed the highest (P < 0.05) hardness and lowest (P < 0.05) adhesiveness. These products also showed the lowest (P < 0.05) half-bandwidth of the 2922 cm1 band, which could be related to the fact that the lipid chain was more orderly than that in the frankfurters formulated with animal fat and F/SC. The spectral results revealed modifications in the amide I band profile when the olive oil-in-water emulsion replaced animal fat. This fact is indicative of a greater content of aggregated intermolecular β-sheets. Structural characteristics in both proteins and lipids could be associated with the specific textural properties of frankfurters.