The European Commission has launched a call to tender for a study on measuring water content in poultry meat after German research suggested the figures on which guidelines are based may no longer be valid.
The aim of the research is to analyse the physiological water content of EU-produced poultry meat to assess whether the current regulatory limits - based on data gathered almost two decades ago – are still suitable.
The EC said that while added water in a product such as milk or wine could be considered an attempt to alter its quality, this is not necessarily the case with frozen poultry meat – where the presence of the so-called 'physiological water' and some 'extraneous water' is accepted. The latter is the unavoidable consequence of the water absorbed in the chilling process during the preparation of carcasses following the slaughtering stage, said the EC. The parameters are laid down in Regulation (EC) No 543/2008.
Depending on whether air, air-spray or immersion is used as the chilling method and whether the determination test is drip or chemical, the maximum technically unavoidable extraneous water content for frozen or quick-frozen poultry meat is: for whole carcasses between 1.5 per cent and 7 per cent and for cuts (only the chemical test is applicable) at 2 per cent for air chilling, at 4 per cent for air spray chilling and at 6 per cent for immersion chilling.
The ratio used to fix the limits is based on a 1993 EU-wide study. However repeated claims of higher ratios observed by the National Reference Laboratories triggered by a recent study spearheaded by the German Association of Poultry Processors to determine the status of the physiological water. The German study revealed that while the current average ratio had not changed for turkeys compared to 1993, there had been about a 7 per cent increase for broiler cuts.
“This increase caused a remarkable number of control samples exceeding the limits of the tolerable water content in poultry meat set up in R.543/2008,” said the EC. Developments of breeds, age at slaughter and the weight at slaughter have taken place since 1993 which may have caused a change in the proportion between physiological water and extraneous water, not only in Germany, but also in other EU countries, said Brussels.
The results of the new study will be compared with the results of the research 18 years ago to evaluate whether the regulatory limits of tolerated water in poultry meat after slaughtering need to be adapted.
The maximum budget for the project is €190,000 and the contractor will be required to carry out the study within 11 months from signing the agreement. The deadline for submissions is 10 May, 2011, with the Commission planning to award the contract during the third quarter of 2011.
[Source: Food Production Daily]