Injecting brine into meat products such as cured bacon is crucial for consistency of distribution, quality and yields for food manufacturers. Now the seafood industry can also take advantage of this precise technique for locking in flavour and ensuring a longer shelf life for seafood products.
Leading technology provider, GEA Food Solutions, has launched automated injection systems suitable for the hygienic handling of a variety of fish, including cod fillets, salmon and mackerel. Configuration of the needle pattern can be adapted according to species, whether injecting brine, marinating or flavouring products.
There are multiple reasons for injecting fish with brine; most important is the need to ensure product safety especially for ready-to-eat products. Brines include salts and additives that help to inhibit bacterial growth, such as listeria, and to extend the product’s shelf life and flavour to make sure that it arrives with the consumer in perfect condition. If fish is dried and smoked, it will lose weight in the process. Adding brine before smoking ensures that the product remains succulent, with less protein loss, while it absorbs the characteristic smoked flavours.
GEA’s 2mm injection concepts such as the MultiJector introduce brine in a high-density injection pattern, combined with the right injection pressure, avoiding injection points becoming saturated which can cause the brine to leak out. A higher density of needles allows less brine per needle to be injected at a lower pressure. It also means reduced downtime spent cleaning the equipment and surrounding environment.
Bjarne Lyngø, senior product sales manager for GEA, explains that a tight needle pattern, in combination with immediate post-injection handling such as shaking or vibration, helps close needle marks while the brine is more easily absorbed by the fish, improving the flavour.
He said: “On a MultiJector for example there are 792 very fine hypodermic needles 2mm in diameter. With lower pump pressure the marks are not visible, and you have no separation in the meat. After injection we use high frequency shaking technology for better penetration of the ingredients and flavours being added to the fish. The protein and brine ingredients are activated which means there is less drip and less deterioration of the product.”
For good vibrating the GEA MultiShaker is the market leader. Shaking the fish with high-frequency vibrations achieves even better distribution of brine. To complete the line there is the cool GEA SuperChill. This accurate temperature-controlled brine chiller reduces both injection pick-up variation and post-injection purge enabling manufacturers to provide a better, more consistent product.
GEA injection, shaking and chilling technology is designed to work together with safety and accuracy built in through decades of experience and engineering excellence. As a result, product quality and consistency are significantly increased, and higher efficiency can be achieved.
Without a doubt the seafood industry benefits from GEA’s unique brine injection technology. This is driven by an understanding of the process and the quality of the equipment deployed to carry out the tasks involved. This ensures that the benefits extend from the processor to the reseller and ultimately to the all-important end consumer.