Carrageenan is considered an additive in Europe, and in the U.S., it’s not permitted in the production of food products labeled “organic”. Because the trend towards cleaner ingredient lists isn’t slowing down, you might be interested in replacing carrageenan in your product recipe. If that’s the case, Sonac has an excellent solution that’s authentic and meat-own, has a better taste profile, and may even help cut costs.
What is carrageenan, and how is it used?
Carrageenan is a soluble polysaccharide (galactose and anhydrogalactose) that functions—when added to foods—as an emulsifier, stabilizer, or thickener. In the meat industry, it’s typically added to a brine solution of spices and salt and then added to pork and other meat products. Carrageenan helps retain the brine in meat products, like cooked ham, and thus improve texture and sliceability.
One of the leading drawbacks to using carrageenan currently is that it’s an additive (in Europe it’s an E number) and because of the trend towards cleaner food labels and ingredient lists, food processors want to take E numbers out of their declaration.
Although there isn’t a regulation or set definition for what makes a label clean, the interest from consumers is extremely appealing. Per a survey commissioned by Ingredient Communications (a PR and marketing firm that specializes in the ingredient sector) in the fall of 2020, up to 81% of consumers said the label “made with natural ingredients” is appealing, and 78% of consumers liked the label “free from artificial ingredients.”
QBoost Pork Hydro-P Premium: an alternative to carrageenan
A cleaner alternative to carrageenan is Sonac’s QBoost Pork Hydro-P Premium. Hydro-P Premium is a hydrolyzed collagen made from porcine bones, not pork skin. It’s extracted from the bones and broken down into shorter peptides, dried, and sold as a powder. Breaking it down into shorter peptides makes the product completely soluble.
Hydro-P Premium is an authentic, meat-own protein, which makes it an excellent alternative to carrageenan if a cleaner product label and ingredient list is something you’re seeking. When you use Hydro-P Premium in a pork product, you can list it in the ingredients as “bouillon,” “broth,” or “stock.” There are no E numbers, or unpronounceable words. On the contrary, it is a recognizable ingredient in your kitchen. If you’re using Hydro-P Premium in a non-pork product, you simply have to add the origin of the bouillon: so, “pork bouillon,” “pork broth,” or “pork stock.” Again, no E numbers and all words that a consumer can easily read and pronounce.
Because the base of the two ingredients (Hydro-P Premium and carrageenan) is different, the ingredient attributes and functionality are likely to differ, too. One of those attributes is taste: some say that carrageenan is bitter, which could negatively impact the end pork or meat product, or require a flavor-masking agent to be added (which would take away even more so from the goal of a cleaner label). Hydro-P Premium however is fairly neutral in its flavor, and in some applications can even enhance taste. The two ingredients differ slightly in their functionality in that using Hydro-P Premium produces a meat product like cooked ham that is firmer, easier to slice, and has a meaty bite. When carrageenan is used, however, in a cooked ham or other similar product, the bite texture has been described as gummy.
Cost is also a reason to use Hydro-P Premium. The price of carrageenan has been rising, because availability is decreasing. At Sonac, we produce our hydrolyzed collagen from porcine bones. Sourcing from bones is one way we maintain a more constant price level. We also keep our prices stable because we’re dedicated to selling in the meat market, whereas many producers of carrageenan are branching out to other markets.
A cleaner substitute for carrageenan
Would you like to learn more about Hydro-P Premium and how it can enhance your pork or meat product and its label? Download our whitepaper "The benefits of hydrolyzed collagen for pork meat" here.Download whitepaper
Or, try Hydro-P Premium yourself in place of carrageenan in your pork or meat product. Simply connect with one of our product specialists here to secure a sample.