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New natural coatings from tomatoes improve the preservation of pork

A team of CSIC researchers has achieved gelatin coatings that would delay the oxidation process of the product during storage. The stability of the compounds opens up avenues of research into their possible antioxidant effect after digestion.

The study shows that coatings improve quality and extend the life of products. / Pixabay.Researchers from the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology (IATA-CSIC), the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), and the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) have demonstrated the effectiveness of a gelatine coating enriched with a hydrolysate of tomato proteins to improve the quality of pork. The results of the work, which is published in the journal Polymers, show a delay in the oxidation of the product's lipids due, in large part, to the action of the peptides with antioxidant activity that form part of the hydrolysate. In addition, it has been found that the antioxidant activity of these peptides is maintained after the meat is cooked.

Meat is a basic element in the diet of a large part of the population, since it has a high nutritional and protein level. However, it is a perishable product whose first symptoms of deterioration are changes in colour, appearance, aroma, water exudation and, finally, microbial growth. For this reason, reliable mechanisms are sought to guarantee the quality of the food until it reaches the consumer.

The coatings, developed by researchers from the IATA-CSIC Meat and Meat Products Biochemistry, Technology and Innovation group, not only serve as a direct barrier to water or oxygen when applied to fresh pork, but also contain natural antioxidant peptides obtained from tomato skin and seed extracts, which have proven effective against meat oxidation due to their antioxidant properties.

This extends their shelf life during cold storage and responds to consumer demand for natural food preservation. According to Leticia Mora, a scientist in IATA-CSIC, "using these by-products from the tomato industry as a source of bioactive peptides gives them added value at a low economic cost, contributing to sustainability in the industry".

Beneficial effect on digestion

In addition, researchers have been able to confirm the stability of antioxidant activity after cooking the meat, opening up the possibility of future research to demonstrate the effect of these antioxidant peptides after ingestion and gastrointestinal digestion. "These new studies would confirm the antioxidant capacity of this coating not only on the food product, but it could also be beneficial after ingestion by the consumer", says Mora. According to Fidel Toldrá, Research Professor at IATA-CSIC, the work is part of an important line of research of the group: the use of food by-products and the development of sustainable products.

These edible biopolymers and natural additives obtained from by-products of food processing represent a new path that allows the transition to a sustainable bioeconomy in the food industry, as well as being a strategy to extend the shelf life and improve many of the quality characteristics of a food product in a way that is responsible for both the environment and consumer health

Gallego, M.; Arnal, M.; Talens, P.; Toldrá, F. y Mora, L. Effect of Gelatin Coating Enriched with Antioxidant Tomato By-Products on the Quality of Pork Meat. Polymers.

Ángela Molina / IATA-CSIC Comunicación