This study was carried out to determine the effect of processing and cooking on n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) stability and to determine the efficacy of antioxidants (ANTI) to minimize lipid oxidation in cooked n-3 PUFA-fortified meat products. An emulsion of n-3 PUFAs (25% algal oil) was incorporated into ground turkey, pork sausages, or restructured hams (500 mg n-3 PUFA/110 g meat) with or without an “antioxidant cocktail” containing citrate (0.5% w/w), erythorbate (1 g/kg product), and rosemary (0.2% w/w). Ground turkey and pork sausages were frozen 2 d, then cooked to 71°C, and stored at 4°C for 2 d. Cooked, restructured hams were sliced, vacuum packaged, and stored at 4°C, or frozen and thawed with subsequent storage at 4°C. Treatments were CON (control), n-3 (n-3 PUFAs), CON + ANTI and n-3 + ANTI. Products were analyzed for color, lipid oxidation (TBARS and peroxide values), and n-3 PUFA profile. TBARS of n-3 PUFA-fortified treatments in ground turkey and pork sausages increased with storage (P < 0.05); there were no changes in TBARS for CON + ANTI and n-3 + ANTI groups (P > 0.05). For restructured hams nitrite curing appeared to delay lipid oxidation such that antioxidant treatment effects were unobservable (P > 0.05). Overall recovery of n-3 PUFAs after heat processing was 69% to 85%, and there was no effect of storage on n-3 PUFA concentration in raw or cooked products (P > 0.05). Sensory scores for n-3 treated restructured hams were lower than controls (P < 0.05). Results suggested that cooking resulted in some losses of n-3 PUFAs in fortified meat products and that an “antioxidant cocktail” protected against lipid oxidation during subsequent storage in non-cured meat products.
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