Meat Processing Guide: Curing Ingredients & Functions


Meat processing is defined as any mechanical, chemical or enzymatic treatment of meat which alters the form from which it originally occurs.

Functions of meat processing:

  1. Preservation and/or self-life extension
  2. Tenderization
  3. Meat cookery
  4. Manipulation and control of composition
  5. Portion control
  6. Improvement of consumer convenience

Curing ingredients and their functions:

1. Salt [NaCl]


  • for meat protein extraction
  • contributes to a desirable flavor
  • aids in water retention in processed meat
  • controls bacterial growth

2. Sugar


  • counteracts astringent quality of aslt
  • enhances the flavor of the product
  • aids in lowering the pH of the cure [cane sugar is more suitable]

3. Nitrates, nitrites, curing salt


  • for cured color development
  • for cured flavor development
  • inhibits the growth of clostridia

Recommended use level:

  • ½ teaspoon/kilogram of meat
  • 0.2% or weight of meat
  • 200 ppm NaNa2 in finished products

4. Phosphates


  • improve water retention
  • improve binding between meat chunks
  • enhance emulsion stability
  • help to suppress development of rancid flavors
  • decrease emulsion viscosity

Recommended use level:

  • 1 teasepoon phosphate dissolved in ¼ cup water
  • 0.3% of weight of meat

5. Ascorbates, Erythorbates, Ascorbic Acid


  • hastens reduction of nitrate to nitric acid
  • antioxidant
  • improve color stability
  • suppress nitrosamine formation

Recommended use level:

  • ascorbic acid – 500mg/kg. of meat
  • erythorbate – .05% of weight of meat

6. Binders, fillers, emulsifiers – usually added for economic reasons

6.1 Binders

  • dissolve and bind meat particles together
  • hold moisture during processing and/or subsequent heating
  • produce better yields e.g. dried skim milk, cereal flour, starches, soy protein concentrate, carrageenan

6.2 Fillers

  • insoluble additive
  • does not contain water soluble proteins
  • serve only as added weight
  • e.g. cereal grain products

6.3 Emulsifiers

  • contain water soluble proteins in varying amounts
  • aid in the emulsification of the ingredients in chopper e.g. dried whey, soy protein isolate, soy protein concentrate

7. Extenders

Non-meat material added to meat in order to:

  • increase the bulk, and
  • modify the quality of a meat product


  • TVP [textured vegetable protein]
  • ISP [isolated soy protein]

8. Flavoring agents – flavor improvement, bacterial inhibition, color improvement, antioxidant function.

  • Spices
    • pepper
    • cloves
    • mace
    • cinnamon
    • garlic
    • onions
    • nutmeg
    • paprika
  • Flavor modifiers
    • MSG [monosodium glutamate]
    • Hydrolyzed proteins
    • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
    • Nucleotides
  • Smoke flavor
  • Starter cultures

9. Food color

  • color improvement

10. Water

  • universal solvent

Recommended application for carrageenan [aquagel]

[by total weight]
AQUAGEL MP 486 Freeze thaw stable blend hotdog, hams, fresh corned beef 0.8 – 2.0%
AQUAGEL MP 463 Hamburger 0.5 – 1.0%
AQUAGEL MP 454 Longganisa, Tocino, Tapa 0.5 – 1.0%
AQUAGEL MP 416 Hotdog, Luncheon Meat 0.5 – 1.5%
AQUAGEL MP 478 Canned Corned Beef 0.4 – 1.0%
AQUAGEL MP 452 Restructure Hams
[Trimix Match]
2.0 – 4.0%

Meat processing ingredients can be bought at:

Ultima Entrepinoy Forum Center
Nutrition Foundation of the Philippines Bldg.
#107 E. Rodriguez Sr. Ave., Quezon City
Tel: 411-1349; 742-0826; 742-7866
Email: [email protected]



  1. By Marlon Puyod


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