Written By Ifeoma Irechukwu
Festive periods make available excess meat. How is this so? During special religious celebrations people slaughter animals of various kinds – rams, goat, cattle, chicken, among others. Observations has shown that during the festive period people slaughter different categories of animals of their choice around the world in order to celebrate with their families, friends and even share with the poor.
For Instance For the Christianity religious, Christmas and Easter are the most festive period in their calendar while the Islamic religion has the the Eid Kabir and Eid fitr.
So animal slaughter could make excess meat available. In some cases people can hardly finish the meat they get from the slaughtered animals. So what do they do? They then preserve the meet to be eaten in a later date.
Preservation techniques could be essential in ensuring that the meet remains safe and healthy for consumpition at a later date.
According to a nutritionalist Farouk Bello, meat preservation is a process of preserving meat to maintain it’s nutritional value such as taste, texture and colour. This includes the cooked meat to keep them edible for a long time.
Similarly, the food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says that lack of techniques on meat preservation could spoil the meat with Micro organism.
The 2018 Muslim celebrations have made available so much meat that families are now choosing different techniques to preserve them.
A mother in kano metropolis Hajiya Mariya Idris says meat has been preserved in the last 2 decades by rosting, frying and sprinkling salt on it.
A dietician Hajiya Aisha Shehu says meat preservation in modern days is done with the help of refrigerator. It helps in preservation of parts such as cow skin, head and legs. But the dietician also urged people to eat less meat so as to remain healthy.
Meat if not well preserved can spoil and this is due to chemical and enzymatic activities. According to Pal, Devrani and Bungalows, the breakdown of fat, protein, and carbohydrates of meat result in the development of off-odors, off-flavor and slim formation, which make the meat objectionable for the human consumption. Several factors such as moisture, light, microbes, atmospheric oxygen, temperature, and endogenous enzymes influence the freshness and shelf life of meat. Microbes are ubiquitous in distribution and can reach the meat from different sources thus causing its spoilage. This is why various technologies and strategies are used to preserve the meat in order to inactivate/destroy the microbes, which are implicated in foodborne infections, writes Pal, Devrani and Bungalows.
Traditional methods of meat preservation such as drying, smoking, brining, fermentation, refrigeration and canning are gradually being replaced by new preservation techniques such as chemical, bio-preservative and non-thermal techniques. The aims of preservation methods are to inhibit the microbial spoilage and also to minimize the oxidation and enzymatic spoilage. Current meat preservation methods are broadly categorized into three methods (a) controlling temperature (b) controlling water activity (c) use of chemical or bio-preservatives. A combination of these preservation techniques can be used to diminish the process of spoilage.
Why do we preserve meat and other foods? It is to achieve the following;
1. To control foodborne infections and intoxications;
2. To ensure the safety of food from microbes;
3. To prevent the spoilage of food;
4. To extend the shelf life of food;
5. To enhance the keeping quality of food;
6. To reduce financial losses (see Pal, Devrani and Bungalows).
There is every need to chose the right technique in preserving meat to ensure it remains healthy for consumption on a later date. Meat gets bad as a result of microbial spoilage and this results in a sour taste, off-flavors, discoloration, gas production, pH change, slime formation, structural components degradation, off odors and change in appearance.
Preservation is used to keep the quality, nutritive value and edibility of meat intact. Anyone who wants to save excess meat available during festive periods should use very good preservation method to achieve that.