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Journal of Food Engineering 53 (2002) 279–285

www.elsevier.com/locate/jfoodeng

Evaluation of textural properties of a meat-based product


(sobrassada) using ultrasonic techniques
a,*
Pilar Llull , Susana Simal a, Jose Benedito a,b

, Carmen Rossello a

a
Department of Chemistry, University of Illes Balears, Crta. Valldemossa km. 7.5., 07071 Palma de Mallorca, Spain
b
Department of Food Technology, University of Polit ecnica of Valencia, Cno. Vera s/n. 46071, Valencia, Spain
Received 22 June 2001; accepted 10 September 2001

Abstract
The relationship between textural properties of a meat-based product (sobrassada de Mallorca) and ultrasonic velocity was
examined. Textural properties (at 4 °C) and ultrasonic velocity (at 4, 8, 12 and 25 °C) were measured. The ultrasonic velocity could
be mathematically related with the textural parameters such as hardness and compression work (CW). The results showed that using
a non-destructive method such as ultrasonic measurements, hardness and CW could be accurately estimated (%var ¼ 95% in both
parameters). Moreover, the measurement of ultrasonic velocity at different temperatures showed that velocity decreased when
temperature increased. Thus, from the slope of the temperature–velocity straight lines it was possible to assess, in a non-destructive
way, the moisture and fat contents of the meat-based product (%var ¼ 91% and 93%, respectively). Ó 2002 Published by Elsevier
Science Ltd.

Keywords: Ultrasound; Meat; Texture; Sobrassada

1. Introduction (Juodeikiente, Schleining, Kunigelis, & Adomaitis,


1994); firmness in avocado (Mizrach & Flitsanov, 1999)
Low intensity ultrasonics have been used in the food and deformability modulus in Mahon and Cheddar
industry for the rapid and non-destructive evaluation cheeses (Benedito, Carcel, Clemente, & Mulet, 2000a,b).
of the quality of many foods through the determination Lee, Luan, and Daut (1992) used ultrasound to deter-
of their acoustical properties (McClements, 1997). The mine the textural properties of cheese cubes, showing
power levels used are low enough (less than 1 W=cm2 ) to that changes in cheese structure could be monitored.
avoid any alteration, either in the physical or chemical Textural parameters such as hardness (H) and com-
properties of the analysed food (Mulet, Benedito, Bon, pression work (CW) are temperature dependent and,
& Rossell o, 1999). Among the acoustical parameters thus, velocity is expected to be affected by the temper-
(e.g., velocity, attenuation and frequency spectrum), ature of the product. Therefore, it is highly interesting to
velocity is the most widely used, probably because it is determine the influence of temperature on sound ve-
the simplest and the most reliable measurement (Povey locity in foods as a way to improve the accuracy of the
& McClements, 1988). Materials exhibit constant ul- measurements. According to Povey and McClements
trasonic velocity values under given operational condi- (1988) the ultrasonic velocity in water increases 3 m=s
tions. In fact, ultrasonic velocity depends only on the °C. The ultrasonic velocity also increases with temper-
physico-chemical properties of a determined material. ature in experiments carried out on dried chicken pow-
The ultrasonic measurements have been used to de- der, containing mainly protein and minerals (Chanamai
termine the textural properties of some food products: & McClements, 1999). Moreover, Benedito, Carcel,
compressive Young’s modulus in cooked carrots (Niel- Rossello, and Mulet (2001) observed that experiments
sen & Martens, 1997); density and porosity in crackers carried out on a fatty tissue exhibited a decrease in ve-
locity with temperature. This decrease was mainly due to
two overlapped effects, the negative temperature coeffi-
*
Corresponding author. Tel.: +34-71-173-484; fax: +34-71-173-426. cient of the ultrasonic velocity in fat, and the increase
E-mail address: dqupld4@ps.uib.es (P. Llull). in the liquid content due to fat melting, which has a
0260-8774/02/$ - see front matter Ó 2002 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd.
PII: S 0 2 6 0 - 8 7 7 4 ( 0 1 ) 0 0 1 6 6 - 2
280 P. Llull et al. / Journal of Food Engineering 53 (2002) 279–285

lower velocity than solid fat (McClements, 1997). The mathematical model in the simulation of the experi-
influence of temperature on sound velocity was ad- mental data. This figure is defined by Eq. (4):
dressed on adipose tissue (Miles, Fursey, & Jones, 1985), " #
2
Syx
cod fillets (Ghaedian, Decker, & McClements, 1997) and %var ¼ 1  2  100; ð3Þ
fish (Ghaedian, Coupland, Decker, & McClements, Sy
1998). Moreover, the study of the curve velocity–tem-
where Syx and Sy are the standard deviations of the es-
perature has been used to assess the composition of fish
timation and the sample, respectively.
(Ghaedian et al., 1998) and chicken (Chanamai &
McClements, 1999).
Textural properties of foods are frequently determi-
nants of their acceptability by consumers. Commonly, 2. Materials and methods
destructive methods are, in general, used in the assessment
of these parameters (Monin, 1998). Therefore, an eval- Sobrassada, a meat-based product, manufactured on
uation of the main textural properties of a meat-based the island of Mallorca (Spain), was supplied by a local
product, such as sobrassada, based on non-destructive factory using the methodology suggested by the pro-
methods might be important for manufacturers. Thus, tected geographical indication (PGI) for the Sobrassada
the aim of this work is to evaluate the usefulness of ul- de Mallorca. The mixture included lean pork meat,
trasonic techniques to estimate the textural properties of white fat, paprika and salt. The meat ingredients were
this product. The influence of temperature on the ultra- kneaded until particle a size of 4 mm was achieved and
sonic velocity measurements was also determined and its then mixed with other ingredients. Afterwards, the
relationship with the chemical composition of the meat- mince was filled into artificial casings (25  102  102
based product was also evaluated. m long, 7:5102 m diameter and 2:681012 g=Pa s m
permeability at 12 °C and 75% relative humidity).
1.1. Theoretical background All sobrassada samples were analysed in triplicate for
fat, protein and moisture contents according to the of-
In solid materials, ultrasonic velocity (v) is related to ficial methods (ISO R-1443, ISO R-937 and ISO R-
the square root of the elastic modulus of the material 1442). Moreover, measurements of ultrasonic velocity
(E) and its density ðqÞ by the relationship (Povey & and textural properties (H and CW through TPA
McClements, 1988): analysis) at 4 °C were carried out. All analyses were
sffiffiffiffi sffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi performed in duplicate on two different samples.
E K þ ð4=3ÞG Furthermore, to determine the influence of tempera-
v¼ ¼ : ð1Þ ture on velocity, this parameter was also evaluated at 8,
q q
12 and 25 °C.
This expression relates velocity with elastic constants for
a homogeneous isotropic and elastic medium where K is 2.1. Texture analyses
the bulk modulus and G the shear modulus.
Usually the differences in the modulus of food ma- A texture profile analysis (TPA) was performed on
terials are greater than those in density and, therefore, all meat-based product samples. Slices of 2:5  102 m
the ultrasonic velocity variations are more influenced by height and 7:5  102 m diameter were cut from the
the elastic modulus than by density (McClements, 1997). samples of this meat product. Then, eight cylinders of
It should also be considered that the bulk modulus 2:9  102 m diameter and 2:5  102 m height were cut
greatly exceeds the shear (Povey, 1989). The shear (two cylinders from each slice). A 100 kN load cell was
modulus of food gels is usually less than 1000 N=m2 , fitted to a Universal Testing Machine (Model Zwick-
which is about six orders of magnitude smaller than Z100). The cross-head speed was 20 mm/min and the
bulk modulus (typically 2  109 N=m2 , McClements, cylinders were compressed 1:75  102 m (70%). From
1997). Consequently, the changes in velocity will be the TPA curves, H and CW were determined.
linked mainly to the differences in the bulk modulus of
the samples. 2.2. Ultrasonic measurements
As a first approximation, Eq. (1) could be written
(Eq. (2)), (Benedito, 1998): The experimental set up for the velocity measure-
pffiffiffiffiffiffiffi ments consisted of a couple of narrow-band ultrasonic
v ¼ A TP þ B; ð2Þ
transducers (1 MHz, 0.75 in. crystal diameter, A314S-
where A and B are constants and TP is a textural pa- SU Model, Panametrics, Waltham, MA), a pulser-
rameter. receiver (Toneburst Computer Controlled, Model
The percentage of explained variance (%var) was PR5000-HP, Matec Instruments, Northborough, MA),
calculated to evaluate the goodness of the proposed and a digital storage oscilloscope (Tektronix TM TDS
P. Llull et al. / Journal of Food Engineering 53 (2002) 279–285 281

420, Tektronix, Wilsonville, OR) linked to a personal also textural parameters (H and CW) of the 28 samples
computer using a GPIB interface. Proprietary software of sobrassada analysed. As can be observed from this
was developed to capture the signal from the oscillo- table, H and CW, in this meat-based product, had val-
scope and calculate the velocity. For each velocity ues between 14.0 and 40.8 N and between 98.2 and 280.5
measurement five signal acquisitions were performed N mm, respectively. Similar values for textural param-
and averaged in the computer. The time of passage of eters have been proposed by different authors in other
the sound wave was computed from the average signal. cured meat products: hardness between 21.3 and 35.3 N
The distance was measured with a digital height gage for salami (Letelier et al., 1995) and between 11.6 and
(Electronic Height Gage, Model 752A, Athol, MA), and 22.8 N for dry-cured hams (Monin et al., 1997). More-
sent to the computer through an RS232 interface. In over, in a cooked meat product such as bologna sau-
order to calculate the system delay, pulse transit time sages, hardness values ranged between 27.1 and 45.8 N
measurements were performed with a set of calibration (Jimenez, Carballo, & Solas, 1995).
cylinders of different thickness. The delay time was ob-
tained from the plot of time versus thickness. This delay
3.1. Assessment of ultrasonic textural properties
was introduced into the velocity computation. The
samples at 4, 8, 12 and 25 °C were placed between the
The results obtained in the measurements of ultra-
transducers and the ultrasonic velocity was determined
sonic velocity at 4, 8, 12 and 25 °C are shown in Table 2.
over three points previously marked on the pieces. In
As can be observed from this table, ultrasonic velocity at
order to improve the acoustical coupling, thin layer
4 °C, in the meat-based product, had values between
of olive oil was placed between the samples and the
1613.9 and 1655.0 m/s. Moreover, similar values of ul-
transducers.
trasonic velocity have been proposed in the literature for
other meat products (Pascual, Gisbert, Tomas, & Lopez,
1997).
3. Results and discussion A decrease in the water content causes an increase in
the deformability modulus and probably, in the bulk
Table 1 shows the results of mean and standard de- modulus; therefore an increase in velocity is expected
viation values of moisture, protein and fat contents, and (Eq. (1)) since the TPA measurements and the ultrasonic

Table 1
Mean and standard deviation values of moisture, fat and protein contents and textural parameters (H and CW) of meat-based product samples
Samples Fat (wt%) Moisture (wt%) Protein (wt%) Hardness (N) CW (N mm)
1 64:3  0:4 21:1  0:2 6.2  0.2 18:6  1:2 132.3  5.4
2 68:2  0:6 17:4  0:5 6.0  0.1 20:1  1:0 155.9  9.3
3 56:8  0:5 27:5  0:2 7.3  0.3 16:0  0:5 106.6  9.4
4 61:2  0:3 22:6  0:6 7.7  0.2 25:2  1:0 182.0  11.9
5 51:3  0:4 30:7  0:0 9.5  0.3 20:0  2:0 131.8  7.9
6 55:9  0:3 25:2  0:3 10.4  0.4 28:1  1:6 211.7  8.0
7 43:7  0:2 37:6  0:5 10.2  0.2 18:5  1:1 133.9  9.3
8 55:7  0:8 25:7  0:2 10.1  0.4 32:8  1:2 225.0  9.0
9 37:6  0:3 39:8  0:1 14.1  0.4 22:0  1:5 162.9  8.3
10 45:5  0:8 30:9  0:8 15.1  0.6 40:8  1:5 280.5  15.0
11 66:4  0:4 19:9  0:3 5.3  0.3 19:1  1:1 143.7  12.5
12 67:7  0:2 18:9  0:7 5.0  0.3 21:1  1:6 161.1  8.0
13 56:6  0:3 26:5  0:3 8.4  0.1 21:3  1:3 149.2  6.6
14 58:6  0:6 24:9  0:3 8.0  0.2 25:3  1:5 182.7  7.0
15 52:8  0:5 29:4  0:1 9.3  0.3 22:8  1:1 165.3  12.3
16 54:5  0:4 28:0  0:2 9.0  0.1 26:1  1:0 186.1  8.5
17 48:7  0:1 34:2  0:5 8.7  0.1 22:8  0:8 167.3  11.0
18 47:6  0:6 32:5  0:7 11.4  0.2 33:8  1:5 240.6  16.8
19 43:1  0:9 36:5  0:8 11.9  0.5 29:5  1:3 204.0  6.4
20 44:3  0:4 33:8  0:2 13.5  0.4 39:5  2:2 272.2  15.4
21 60:6  0:7 25:1  0:2 5.9  0.1 14:0  1:2 98.2  6.4
22 63:2  0:4 20:3  0:1 8.0  0.2 21:7  1:0 170.2  4.7
23 47:4  0:3 34:8  0:1 9.3  0.2 15:2  1:2 127.3  4.1
24 53:2  0:2 27:8  0:2 10.6  0.3 30:1  1:4 233.0  9.3
25 61:2  0:6 23:8  0:3 6.6  0.1 19:8  1:3 141.8  6.4
26 62:5  0:9 22:5  0:2 6.5  0.3 21:5  1:0 155.3  3. 9
27 49:8  0:7 31:9  0:2 9.9  0.3 20:9  1:2 147.9  12.5
28 50:8  0:6 30:2  0:3 10.5  0.2 28:2  0:6 196.3  7.3
282 P. Llull et al. / Journal of Food Engineering 53 (2002) 279–285

Table 2
Mean and standard deviation values of ultrasonic velocity (v) at 4, 8, 12 and 25 °C and slopes of the straight lines plot of velocity–temperature of
meat-based product samples
Samples v (4 °C) (m/s) v (8 °C) (m/s) v (12 °C) (m/s) v (25 °C) (m/s) Slope r2
1 1620:5  0:8 1607:0  1:3 1584:8  1:1 1545:0  1:1 3:60 0.988
2 1624:7  0:7 1607:9  0:9 1589:7  2:6 1542:1  1:1 3:91 0.993
3 1616:8  1:2 1606:1  1:5 1590:4  2:0 1552:4  2:1 3:09 0.998
4 1635:7  4:1 1616:9  2:2 1602:8  3:0 1560:7  2:6 3:49 0.991
5 1615:8  2:5 1605:2  3:0 1593:4  1:5 1558:6  3:0 2:73 0.996
6 1641:8  1:8 1630:4  1:4 1617:5  0:8 1577:5  1:4 3:08 0.986
7 1616:5  2:2 1603:8  1:3 1595:8  0:7 1565:5  0:8 2:37 0.996
8 1641:5  3:3 1629:5  1:6 1615:7  2:2 1580:6  1:8 2:89 0.998
9 1625:2  1:0 1618:0  0:6 1607:5  1:6 1583:4  0:5 2:89 0.991
10 1655:0  2:1 1653:3  2:0 1640:5  0:8 1609:7  1:8 2:00 0.990
11 1621:6  0:2 1603:4  0:8 1588:3  2:8 1546:7  2:1 2:68 0.993
12 1625:5  1:2 1607:7  0:6 1588:5  2:0 1546:6  1:1 4:01 0.998
13 1628:1  2:1 1605:1  1:7 1594:7  1:4 1552:5  0:3 3:70 0.989
14 1629:3  1:3 1613:8  2:2 1597:9  3:6 1562:0  1:5 3:45 0.999
15 1630:4  2:2 1611:4  0:6 1603:8  2:5 1571:0  0:9 3:22 0.997
16 1632:1  2:6 1620:2  1:7 1611:5  2:2 1571:6  1:0 2:69 0.998
17 1627:4  4:1 1611:9  2:1 1605:5  1:9 1571:6  1:8 2:88 0.991
18 1636:8  0:5 1623:3  3:1 1609:6  1:4 1579:7  1:8 2:57 0.994
19 1635:0  0:0 1625:5  1:9 1617:0  3:3 1593:8  :1:4 2:67 1.000
20 1651:8  2:0 1639:5  1:3 1628:4  1:3 1597:6  2:8 1:93 0.998
21 1613:9  1:0 1602:0  0:8 1582:8  0:7 1543:9  1:4 2:55 0.994
22 1631:7  1:6 1612:7  2:5 1595:4  0:3 1553:3  1:0 3:35 0.992
23 1619:6  1:5 1605:2  1:1 1597:3  1:9 1570:5  0:9 3:66 0.999
24 1640:9  1:9 1629:2  1:7 1608:9  1:9 1569:9  0:6 2:25 0.987
25 1623:4  1:1 1600:6  1:5 1593:1  2:2 1545:5  1:5 3:31 0.985
26 1624:1  1:5 1603:7  2:3 1592:2  2:1 1551:5  0:9 3:57 0.980
27 1629:7  0:8 1621:8  2:0 1611:4  2:2 1581:6  2:6 3:34 0.991
28 1642:3  3:3 1629:8  1:4 1619:1  1:1 1585:7  2:3 2:32 0.999

pffiffiffiffi
velocity are indirectly related (Benedito et al., 2000a). v ¼ 1556:3 þ 15:23 H ; r2 ¼ 0:946; ð4Þ
This fact was confirmed by the experimental results
pffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi
presented in Table 1. The ultrasonic velocity ranged v ¼ 1550:9 þ 6:07 CW; r2 ¼ 0:943: ð5Þ
from 1613.9 and 1543.9 m/s for the softest meat-based
product to between 1655.0 and 1609.7 m/s for the In both cases (H and CW), velocity is clearly related
hardest one at 4 and 25 °C, respectively. to the square root of the textural values, with the per-
Based on Eq. (2), the ultrasonic velocity was fitted to centages of explained variance obtained through the
the square root of the textural parameters (Figs. 1 and 2) comparison of experimental and estimated H and CW
by using the results obtained in the measurements of being 94.6% in both parameters. Calculated hardness
ultrasonic velocity and textural parameters (H, CW) and compression work obtained by using Eqs. (4) and
on samples 1–20. These fittings are shown in Eqs. (4) (5), has been plotted against the experimentals results in
and (5). Figs. 3 and 4, respectively. As can be seen, the proposed

Fig. 1. Ultrasonic velocity dependence on the hardness (Samples 1–20). Fig. 2. Ultrasonic velocity dependence on the CW (Samples 1–20).
P. Llull et al. / Journal of Food Engineering 53 (2002) 279–285 283

could be used to assess the suitability of the tissue for


bacon manufacturing. Similar results have been found
for avocados, in which the velocity decrease with rip-
ening was linked to a loss of firmness (Mizrach, Galili,
Gan-mor, Flitsanov, & Prigozin, 1996).

3.2. Temperature dependence

In order to evaluate the influence of sample temper-


ature on the ultrasonic velocity, measurements of ve-
locity at different temperatures (4, 8, 12 and 25 °C) on
samples 1–28 were carried out for all samples (Table 2).
In all cases, ultrasonic velocity decreased when the meat-
based product temperature increased, ranging from
1613.9 and 1655.0 m/s at 4 °C to 1543.9 and 1609.7 m/s
Fig. 3. Experimental and calculated hardness by using Eq. (4).
at 25 °C for samples 21 and 11, respectively.
The slopes of the velocity–temperature straight lines
for samples 1–28 are shown in Table 2. The slope rep-
resents the accuracy of the measurements, therefore a
value of )3.6 m/s °C for the slope found for sample 1
indicates that a change of 1 °C would produce a
variation of 3.6 m/s. Table 2 shows that, in general, the
slope increased with the fat content (from )1.93 m/s °C
in sample 20 to )4.01 m/s °C in sample 12).
The slopes of the velocity–temperature straight lines
were plotted against the fat (Fig. 5) and the moisture
contents (Fig. 6) by using the results obtained on sam-
ples 1–20. The slopes increased with fat and decreased
with water content. As long as the water content in-
creases the relative fat content decreases, therefore, the
change of velocity with temperature (modulus of the
slope) is lower. These fittings are shown in Eqs. (6) and
Fig. 4. Experimental and calculated CW by using Eq. (5).
(7).

equations provided a good correlation between experi- slope ¼ 0:0662Fatðwt%Þ  0:622; r2 ¼ 0:920; ð6Þ
mental and estimated H and CW. slope ¼ 0:0946W ðwt%Þ þ 5:614; r2 ¼ 0:941: ð7Þ
Similar results were obtained when H and CW related
to samples 21–28 which were not used in the estimation In both cases, the slopes of the velocity–temperature
of the parameters of Eqs. (4) and (5), were calculated straight lines are clearly related to the fat and moisture
(Figs. 3 and 4, respectively). As can be observed, values, with the percentages of explained variance
the results accurately fitted to Eqs. (4) and (5), with the obtained through the comparison of experimental and
percentages of explained variance obtained from the
comparison of experimental and estimated H and CW
through Eqs. (4) and (5) being 90.1% and 93.4%, re-
spectively. Similar results were obtained by Benedito
et al. (2000a) after applying Eq. (2) to measurements of
ultrasonic velocity in Mahon cheese ð%var ¼ 92:0%Þ in
which velocity increased as a consequence of water
losses and an increase of the textural parameters.
Textural properties are frequent determinants of
consumer acceptability of most food products. Using
a non-destructive method such as ultrasonic measure-
ments, the main textural properties of a based-meat
product might be accurately evaluated. Miles et al.
(1985) reported the same type of relationship for adipose Fig. 5. Relationship between the slopes of the velocity–temperature
tissue, determining that the ultrasonic measurements straight lines and the meat-based product fat content ðr2 ¼ 0:920Þ.
284 P. Llull et al. / Journal of Food Engineering 53 (2002) 279–285

good correlation between experimental and estimated


fat and moisture contents.
Similar results were obtained when fat and moisture
contents related to samples 21–28, which were not used
in the estimation of the parameters of Eqs. (6) and (7),
was calculated (Figs. 7 and 8). As can be seen in these
figures, the results accurately fitted to Eqs. (6) and (7)
and the percentages of explained variance obtained from
the comparison of experimental and estimated fat and
moisture contents through Eqs. (6) and (7) were of
88.4% and 90.7%, respectively.
These results show that the measurement of the ul-
Fig. 6. Relationship between the slopes of the velocity–temperature trasonic velocity at different temperatures could be used
straight lines and the meat-based product moisture content ðr2 ¼ to assess the fat and the moisture contents of meat-based
0:941Þ. products.

4. Conclusions

In conclusion, the results show that an increase in the


ultrasonic velocity and the textural parameters is related
to a decrease in the water content. Several relationships
have been obtained to adequately relate the ultrasonic
velocity and the textural parameters characteristics of
this meat product. The results seem to indicate that ul-
trasonic technique would be a reliable and non-
destructive method to determine the textural properties
of meat-based products. Although, since ultrasonic ve-
locity measurements are affected by the temperature,
these must be taken into account for the determination
of the textural parameters. Thus, the slope of the
Fig. 7. Experimental and calculated fat content by using Eq. (6). straight line velocity–temperature plot has been proved
to be useful in non-destructively estimating the moisture
estimated fat and moisture contents being 90.8% and and fat contents of this meat product.
93.4%, respectively. Calculated fat and moisture con-
tents obtained by using Eqs. (6) and (7), has been
plotted against the experimental contents in Figs. 7 and Acknowledgements
8. As can be seen, the proposed equations provided a
The authors would like to acknowledge the financial
support of CICYT (ALI97-0519-C04).

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