Inulin is already extensively used as a fat and sugar replacer, but according to background information in the article, its use in sausages has only been the subject of very limited study.
"Consumer demands for low-fat products, the precautionary principle in the new EC law to achieve the demanded high level of health protection, and market competition are all driving forces for the meat industry to launch new products," wrote lead author Bernhard Nowak in the Journal of Food Science.
"Therefore, in addition to dealing with traditional meat production problems such as hygiene and quality, it is also necessary to consider preventive, prebiotic aspects."
The researchers, from the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, and Leibniz University Hannover, investigated the feasibility of incorporating between three and 12 per cent inulin as a fat replacer into bologna-type sausages in order to reduce the energy content by nine to 48 per cent.
"In our experiment, the added inulin was applied as a gel (inulin diluted with water 1:1), and added in gradually increasing amounts to replace some of the back fat in the bologna formula; thus fat reduction was achieved by really replacing fat and not by increasing the amount of muscle meat in the formula, as has been done in many other experiments," they explained.
Nowak and co-workers report that the highest inulin incorporation was associated with a 47.5 per cent reduction in energy, but at all levels of fat replacement negative physicochemical effects. These included a darker colour, increased hardness, and a reduction in 'fracturability'.
Subsequent re-formulation by the researchers to substitute citrate for the phosphate in the recipe led to significant reduction in these negative effects.
The best results, in terms of both physicochemical properties and sensory attributes, were obtained for sausage formulations containing sic per cent inulin as a fat replacer. Such sausages offered 22 per cent less energy than normal sausages.
The sensory attributes (texture, colour) were assessed by four trained tasters, and states to be comparable to the control sausages.
Furthermore, the inulin sausages were found to be microbiologically stable for 23 days of storage.
"It is possible to add up to six per cent inulin as a gel to bologna-type sausages with citrate in the formula and achieve a significant reduction of the energy content (22 per cent) without negatively affecting sensory quality," wrote Nowak.
The researchers do state that the production costs of the reduced fat sausages with the potentially prebiotic activity are higher than normal sausages.
"However, these new and beneficial aspects of innovative products must be properly communicated to the consumer in an easily comprehensible manner and then the higher production costs of almost one-third to a standard sausage will be paid by many people," they concluded.
Source: Journal of Food Science Published on-line ahead of print, doi:
"Energy Content, Sensory Properties, and Microbiological Shelf Life of German Bologna-Type Sausages Produced with Citrate or Phosphate and with Inulin as Fat Replacer"
Authors: B. Nowak, T. von Mueffling, J. Grotheer, G. Klein, B.-M. Watkinson