Meat & Poultry Series: Preventing Ingredient Separation

Do you need an agitator in a hold and saddle tank or in bins and combos where your brine and marinade is held? As mentioned in previous issues, newer ingredients like soy, starch and carrageenan do not dissolve but soak up water and the other ingredients and once fully “hydrated” are heavier than water. Left un-agitated, the ingredients will sink and separate which will produce very inconsistent product. This will affect yields, color, purge and fluctuating pickups. How can this be prevented? 

  • Start with applying the correct agitator in the correct position in holding tanks that are sized to produce flow that…
    • overcomes the settling velocity of the particles so separation does not occur 
    • does not create a vortex and entrain air and lastly…
    • creates a flow velocity high enough so as not to get freeze on to the cold wall tank

Sound complicated? It’s pure engineering and easily achieved. 

For those who are injecting, injector saddle tanks are the source of issues though most folks don’t look there. Previously, saddle tanks were ignored totally. If we think about what’s there, we have fresh brine, we have overrun back from the needles and if the filters aren’t right we have meat and skin pieces as well as foam. These hydrocolloid ingredients (soy, starch and carrageenan) hold micronized air. Even if we do everything right in the mix and hold tanks, this saddle tank is what feeds our needles and ultimately determines our pick up. 

Things to think about: 
Check the density of the material in the saddle tank regularly. Remember from a previous issue that an injector injects by volume not by weight. Brine with micronized air in it will reduce yield.
Consider ways to maintain uniform particle suspension in this tank. Remembering that left un-agitated, the hydrocolloids sink. One thing that we have recommended to injector companies is to place the return line from the hold tank or a heat exchanger so that the flow creates a sweeping flow across the bottom of the saddle tank. For those running the heaviest formulas like in Ham or Turkey, the addition of a small agitator in the saddle tank has solved the problem.

Want more process improvement or mechanical tips? It is our goal to help! Contact Meat & Poultry expert Pete Leitner directly.