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Phenol In The Sausage – Do You Want It Sliced Or By Piece?


Specialists of one of laboratories at the Department of Chemistry, Astrakhan State University, are sometimes involved in a strange exercise. They take a decent piece of smoked fish or sausage, grind it in a mincing machine, add water, shake it up for about 20 minutes, then filter it and throw away the disagreeable mass, into which the appetizing product was turned into. The remaining solution is analyzed. Here it becomes clear that one should not grudge at all the product used for the analysis. On the contrary, it’s a pity that too little sausage was sliced off, this means that more product would fall to the buyer’s table.

The method developed by the Astrakhan chemists allows to promptly determine, without involving complicated and expensive devices, the amount of phenols contained in meat and fish products, as these are products that are usually smoked. Certainly, the chemists tested their methodology on real objects. Results made strong impression, which was, alas, unpleasant, if not shocking. It has turned out that people simply must no eat some kinds of sausage!

As a matter of fact, any kind of smoking is a risky undertaking from the point of view of health, because smoke as well as liquid smoke is a mixture of various compounds including very dangerous and sometimes toxic ones. They also contain various phenol compounds and even phenol itself, the solution of which is called carbolic acid. It should be noted that hardly anyone would think of drinking it, but as for sausage, it appears that we eat not so little of it!

The researchers certainly tried to find out first which compounds in particular account for the incomparable aroma of smoked food that attracts lovers of smoked fish and sausages. To begin with, the researchers mixed three most evident and as though the most "expressive" substances from the point of view of aroma, which, by the way, are the least toxic. They were mixed not at random, but at the same ratio as in the smoke condensate. Alas, the aroma of such composition turned out to resemble only remotely the aroma of the initial smoke condensate.

Then the researchers identified what other phenol compounds made part of this condensate. Among numerous components, the researchers even found ordinary phenol – the one that is toxic. And its content is quite considerable!

It has turned out that total phenol concentration in some sausages is measured in milligrams per kilogram, and in some samples – it achieves 18 milligrams per each kilogram of the product! Of course, not all of these phenols are equally harmful to people, but in terms of prevalence phenol is far from taking the last place among them. Taking into account that phenol maximum allowable concentration, for example, in water makes 1 milligram per ton (0.001 mg/l), it becomes obvious that production managers should better invent some way of getting rid of phenol prior to smoking sausage and fish. As for us, it may be better to reduce smoked food consumption, physicians giving the same recommendation.

Sergey Komarov | alfa
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