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Proceedings of the Symposium on the QUALITY AND STABILITY OF CANNED MEATS I. Introduction TUESDAY MORNING SESSION March 31,1953 DR. H. E. ROBINSON, Presiding CHAIRMAN ROBINSON This symposium today is on factors affecting the quality and stability of canned meats, one of the major subsistence problems of the Armed Forces. You will hear a number of discussions initiated by experts in fields relating to canned meats. All of the rest of you, it is hoped, will offer advice, suggestions, and ask questions dur- ing this 2-day period. Now we will hear something of the purpose and scope of the meeting from Dr. Tressler, the scientific director of the Food and Container Institute. Dr. Tressler. Purpose and Scope of the Symposium D. K. TRESSLER Thank you, Dr. Robinson. This problem of production of canned meats of excellent quality is of great importance to the Quarter- master. It is important to every taxpayer since more than one-half of every dollar spent on food by the Armed Forces is spent on meat. In fact, the serviceman's meals in the field are built around canned meats. Recently, at certain maneuvers held in the West the servicemen taking part were given operational rations for a considerably longer period of time than is ordinarily the case. They had, as an important item of their operational rations, canned meat. We were amazed to find how far down the scale of acceptability our present canned meats in the C Rations slipped during the several weeks of those tests. We came to the conclusion that canned meats were not as acceptable as we had thought. They rated high at the beginning but after several weeks there was only one canned meat itemâand that included beansâ which rated as high as at the beginning of the test. That brought home forcefully to us that we must do something about improving the acceptability of canned meat items. One of the men who had charge of the feeding of the soldiers on those maneuvers said, "Well, those rations were rather old. Some of
them were 2 years old." But when men are fighting at a considerable distance from established supply and resupply lines, rations are likely to be 2 years old. We must therefore have canned meats not only acceptable when they are freshly prepared but acceptable after 2 years storage. Merely increasing the number of meat items in the rations is not going to be the whole solution. It is true that if you have 100 items in rations you will not have to eat any one of them so often. The ele- ment of monotony, therefore, is not going to be serious. But even so, there is a certain similarity in the texture and the flavor of all canned meat items in the rations today. Until we can improve them so that each canned item is better in texture and has a more distinc- tive and more acceptable flavor, we will not have items that are fully satisfactory. The only solution seems to be in securing more infor- mation applicable to microorganisms which we must control if we are to have a product of excellent quality, safe from the health hazard point of view, and capable of the necessary storage life. From time to time we are shown hams and other items which are given a minimum of processing. Those products are entirely sat- isfactory if they can be kept under refrigeration. As you know, canned ham on a grocery shelf and in the meat markets is a fairly satisfactory item, but if you have to ship it to Korea and hold it per- haps for as long as 6 months at 90Â° to 100Â° F., that canned ham is a health hazard. It is not satisfactory. It must be processed longer, and when you do that, as you know, you get a texture and flavor which is not desirable. We must therefore explore the possibilities of more efficient use of the present methods of stabilizing canned meats. That is, we must learn how heat penetrates so that we can obtain faster heat pen- etration, thereby reducing the danger of overcooking with its bad effect on flavor and texture. In addition, we must explore the possibilities of stabilizing our canned meats by methods other than those presently used. Assuming we are able to modify our methods of stabilizing canned meats so they are equivalent to properly prepared fresh meats, the chemical change that may occur is a problem that may become critical. Therefore, we must not overlook this aspect of our investigation. If we find that cathode ray sterilization gives an entirely sterile product, we know that certain changes in the proteins occur. We must find out whether or not those changes are deleterious. The Institute's program of investigation on canned meats will be the basis for the deliberations at this symposium. As a result of the information obtained here, the program can be strengthened and our goal of a canned meat without an objectionable texture and flavor should therefore be more quickly attainable.
CHAIRMAN ROBINSON Thank you, Dr. Tressler. Now, Mr. B. W. Gardner, who is chief of the Animal Products Division of the Institute, will tell us of the Institute's program of investigation on canned meats. The Institute's Program of investigation on Canned Meats B. W. GARDNER, JR. The program of investigation conducted at the Institute is based on the premise that the Armed Forces have a more critical need for better canned meats than any other part of our society. Its purpose is to investigate all problems related to the canning of beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, eggs, sea food items and combination of these and/or combinations with vegetables or fruits. Our objective is to eliminate from canned animal products and food items the soft, mushy texture and objectionable canned meat flavor. Our program is divided into 5 major parts. The first part is devel- opmental workâdevelopment of formulation studies, the development of new items, the development of formulas for new items for modify- ing existing formulas by taking advantage of changes that are being made in industry every day for manufacturing of better products. Even more important than the foregoing developmental phase is the development of processing techniques. This not only includes a study of present techniques to devise means of improving their efficiency, but it also includes an investigation of the possibility of new tech- niques. It is, indeed, a very important thing if we can get away from hot sterilization and go to cold sterilization, or if we can improve the efficiency of hot sterilization by the use of such revolutionary tech- niques as radio waves or dielectric heating. We are also interested in physical studies. How does heat pene- trate a can ? What can we do to increase the efficiency of heat pene- tration into the can? We also have to find out what factors, what environmental factors, affect sporulation of the microorganisms with which we are concerned. Our program also stresses performance studies. Right now all we can do is to measure whether people like or dislike canned meats. One of our contractors has been attempting to develop an objective method for measuring the texture of canned meats. Frankly, it is an almost impossible job. Maybe some day we will have a texture that can be measured objectively, but now we are restricted to the subjective type of testing for quality. Not least important among our objec- tives is developing methods of utilization of canned meats. Even if we. get a canned meat that tastes like a T-bone steak, if it is not pre- pared well, all developmental effort has been wasted. Now as to chemical studies, there are 2 questions: first, what are edible chemical additives that would aid in controlling micro- organisms or aid in improvement of the texture of canned meats?