WISHHing for soy in meat

Increasing numbers of Kenyan meat processors added soy to their processed meat formulations in 2006, it is reported.
The World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) Program, a US-based organisation backed by soy-growing interests that encourages the use of soy for human health worldwide, is encouraging this trend in Kenya. From there, it hopes that soy's application use will spread to other countries in Africa.
Prof Samuel Ohene-Adjei, a research scientist of the Lethbridge Research Centre, Alberta, Canada, who is also a consultant to WISHH, says his recent WISHH experience in Kenya indicated that soy has considerable growth potential in the African processed meat industry.
WISHH's initial focus was on Kenya because of the country's potential to lead international trade in the sub-region and the increasing awareness of better nutrition among its population.
Ohene-Adjei has particularly been involved in promoting increased awareness of the functionality of soy in processing and helping processors to improve their formulations using soy. Sausages and burger applications were particularly emphasized.
Ohene-Adjei says that previously there was a stigma associated with soy because it was difficult to make soy-containing products tasty due to off-flavours. However, modern technologies are able to remove these flavours and purify the protein.
"Our objective was to get the processing companies to understand the functionality and use of soy proteins."
For the meat industry, soy products of different protein concentrations are manufactured. Texturised soy protein (TSP) contains the lowest amount of protein (55%), but meat contains even less at 21%.
Soy protein of any type and concentration has a big advantage on a protein-cost analysis.
"We design experiments to evaluate processed products' organoleptic qualities – for instance, juiciness, tenderness, crumbliness and saltiness," he said. "We also emphasize at each point in production where salt can be added because the functionality of soy in respect to salt is very different from meat. And we show the effects of soy proteins on water retention. Meat contains over 75% moisture, so if you lose the moisture your profits plunge.
"Soy protein also regulates viscosity, modifies gel structure and generally increases the sensory characteristics of processed meats."
In soy-added burgers, for example, regular formulations show decreased crumbliness and juiciness. In addition, they tend to be saltier after cooking. Soy protein also improves the shelf life of processed meats because they retain more moisture.
The WISHH technical assistance to meat processing companies began in 2004. Companies in Tanzania and Ghana are also currently benefiting.
For WISHH in Africa, contact Jacobus Heyns: Tel +27 (0)11-467-7173 or +27 (0)11-465-5300 or +27-(0)82-458-6644; fax +27 (0)11-467-7159; jpheyns@telkomsa.net ;website: www.wishh.org
WISHH: Tel + 314-576-1770; fax 314-576-2786; wishh@soy.org ; website: www.wishh.org