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What's in the sausage?
Scientists at Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences develop method for detecting MSM
What's in my food? More and more consumers are asking themselves this question when shopping for food. They can find information about this directly on the respective packaging. It is regulated by law that ingredients must be labeled and how they must be labeled. But is it possible to say with certainty that all manufacturers comply with the law?
And is it even possible to find out what highly processed foods are made of? Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Stefan Wittke has addressed these questions as part of a study. For almost two years, the head of the Laboratory for Marine Biotechnology at Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences has been working in cooperation with GfL Gesellschaft für Lebensmittel-Forschung mbH on a method that can be used to detect MSM in sausages with a high degree of probability. To this end, he and his team evaluated a total of more than 500 different tissue and sausage samples as well as more than forty sausage samples from different manufacturers in a blinded study.
Mechanically separated meat is meat that is mechanically separated from the bone. Due to the way it is produced, it cannot be prevented that it also contains disc and cartilage components. It is precisely this composition that helps to detect the proportion of mechanically separated meat "We have developed a method that allows us to detect the collagen 2 alpha 1 typical of intervertebral disc and cartilage in the sausage by means of mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). This allows us to conclude - with a high degree of probability - whether MSM is in the product. In our analyses, we were able to correctly classify 41 of our 42 samples." Only if the proportion is very low is detection more difficult, he said.
It is not illegal for MSM to be in sausage. However, since it is not muscle meat, it must be listed as an ingredient on the packaging. Only in this way can consumers understand how high the pure meat content actually is and whether the meat content in the sausage mass has been replaced by less expensive ingredients.
Whether all manufacturers really comply with the labeling requirement can be checked with the new method. "We do not evaluate whether the use of mechanically separated meat is good or bad. But it is important to us that the declaration requirements are met. It must be stated on the packaging what is really contained in the product. Only in this way can consumers make a conscious decision as to whether they want to buy the sausage, even if it only contains a small amount of muscle meat."
The novel detection method has now been published and is in the patenting process. The study by the Bremerhaven scientists was subjected to a rigorous review process by the journal "Food Analytical Methods" published by Nature-Springer before publication. Prof. Wittke and his team now want to work on further methods for detecting protein-based ingredients.
Their research project is supported by the German Federation of Industrial Research Associations "Otto von Guericke" e.V. (AiF) and with funds from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi): "Central Innovation Program for SMEs (ZIM)", project type: "Cooperation Projects (KK)", funding code: KK5125601BM0
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