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Quality Standards for Processed Meat Part 1: Setting Sensory Specifications for Processed Meats

Quality control in processed meats is important to ensure your customers are receiving a consistent, quality product that meets the standards you desire as a manufacturer. Sensory Spectrum can support you at all stages of quality program implementation and enhancement. We can help define product sensory specifications, train your internal and external teams, and perform ongoing product evaluations to ensure specifications are being met. Additionally, Sensory Spectrum can perform benchmarking studies, product maintenance /change evaluations, and innovation studies. As you seek to define the quality specifications for your product line, utilize Sensory Spectrum’s 30+ years of expertise in the sensory evaluation of processed and fresh meat products to define the product you want to produce and keep your customers coming back.

Step 1: Decide what the product should and should not be.

The first and most important step in setting processed meat sensory quality standards is to define what you want your product to be. Do you want your product to compete in the “premium” space or the “value” space? What sensory characteristics are must-haves in your product? What do you not want in your product? How will you differentiate your product from a competitor’s? This is often the most difficult step in the quality process and requires careful consideration of the product tier and positioning, your manufacturing capabilities, the history of the product space, and your company’s brand identity. It is critical at this stage that your team align on what you want your product to be. While a super-premium product may have specification must-haves and must-not-haves targeted at a high-quality experience; a product targeted at the value space may (and likely should) have specifications that run opposite of the super-premium product. Super-premium specifications may also not be consistent with your brand identity or fit the need of your target customer.

For example, in the breaded poultry category, the specifications for a fully-cooked, chopped and formed chicken patty manufactured for oven cook, may include dark meat notes, brothy flavors, and a soft, uniform texture experience. In contrast, the specifications for an uncooked, whole muscle chicken breast, designed to be fried may include solely white meat notes (dark meat notes are not desired) and a fibrous and crispy bite experience (soft, uniform experience is not desired). In the case of the fried product – a uniform bite experience is defined as “must-not-have” in the specification; the product must be crispy and hard, with a fibrous/whole muscle chew. This fibrous, uneven bite experience is defined as a “must-not-have” in the fully-cooked patty. By defining clear sensory specifications which fit the product’s target customer, tier, or brand, you can ensure your products are produced consistently and meet your customers' expectations every time.

Need some help? We're here to partner with you.

Sensory Spectrum’s team of consultants, trained in meat product evaluations and moderation techniques, can support you throughout this process. Through custom training on the language to describe the meat product space of interest and your product’s unique characteristics, hands-on sessions to define the processed meat attributes which are most important to you as a company and to your individual products, and a review of the current product space, with a focus on core attributes defining yours and competitive products – your team can define and align on what you want your product to be. This process can begin as only one short day with your team and provide invaluable guidance to start your team on the path to success – creating quality products, consistent with your brand and the category.

For more information, please visit our website www.sensoryspectrum.com or contact us directly 908-376-7000.

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