Retaining appealing color
A study on the role of color in food states that "food color affects the consumer's ability to correctly identify flavor, to form distinct flavor profiles and preferences, and dominates other flavor information sources, including labeling and taste."1 Color and freshness are virtually inseparable for meat and poultry consumers in particular, who rely heavily on color and appearance to indicate freshness and taste when purchasing.
The majority of consumers base their meat and poultry buying decisions on a fresh appearance,2 and equate appealing color with quality and freshness. Since color is the consumer's most important cue, meat and poultry manufacturers have a challenge when it comes to maintaining a fresh appearance.
When it comes to meat and poultry, color has a certain chemistry and oxidation is the enemy. Myoglobin is the most important protein for color in meat, which is determined by the ratios of the forms in which it is present. Stable oxymyoglobin (MbO2) imparts the bright red color that is considered a mark of freshness, and is formed and maintained in an oxygen-rich environment. Over time, the continuous oxidation transforms the myoglobin into metmyoglobin (MMb+), imparting a brown color, a cue to consumers that the meat is no longer fresh.
Consumers consider the freshness of food to be an important attribute no matter the category, but when it comes to meat and poultry products, a fresh appearance, aroma and flavor are paramount.
Consumers may base their initial meat and poultry purchases on color, but if those purchases don't deliver fresh and consistent flavor, they will not purchase them again.
The biggest enemy of fresh and appealing flavor is oxidative rancidity, which is caused by lipid oxidation. Lipid oxidation is a chain reaction that occurs in the presence of oxygen. During lipid oxidation, unsaturated fatty acids react with oxygen to form lipid hydroperoxides, which later degrade into molecules such as aldehydes and ketones. These molecules are responsible for the off-odors and off-flavors in meat and poultry products.
Our oxidation control solutions include plant-derived extracts including acerola extract (FORTIUM® A), rosemary extract (FORTIUM® R) and rosemary and green tea extract blends (FORTIUM® RGT). They can help delay oxidation, protecting your product's appeal by preserving its fresh color, aroma and flavor - along with a clean, simple label.
MEAT OXIDATION GUIDE
Learn more about how oxidation can affect your meat and poultry products, in our complimentary Meat and Poultry Oxidation Guide.
Compare protection options to help achieve your brand's desired shelf life goals, with this easy slider tool.
Just click the red dot on Day 1 and drag it to the right to see the results.
The slider above illustrates color loss over time in an 80/20 ground beef, and allows you to compare what protection you may be able to achieve with one of our plant-extract solutions. Use this tool to help you determine the optimal antioxidant solution to meet your desired shelf life needs.
Disclaimer: This tool is for illustrative purposes. The color change scale is based off of scientific research, however images used were not taken from a specific study and were recreated for the purposes of this tool.
1Lawrence L. Garber Jr., Eva M. Hyatt & Richard G Starr Jr. (2000) The Effects of Food Color on Percieved Flavor, Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 8:4, 59-72, DOI: 10.1080/10696679.200.11501880
2Packaged Red Meat, U.S. Mintel, 2023