Nutritional Facts

Quality of the raw material, recipes and applied technology are the basis of the change in the composition of every product.

A continuous nutritional improvement trend

Deli meats supply our organism with just about the same nutrients as meat; therefore they can be considered a valid alternative, especially as a main dish. At a macronutrients level, they have a prevalently proteic composition with variable lipid content, depending on the type of deli meat considered. Several distinctions can be made, due to composition and especially regarding fats, between deli meats produced starting from mixtures (generally “insaccati”) and deli meats produced starting from whole muscle fraction. In particular, the latter can be more or less fatty depending on the raw material, intended as starting specimen and cut of meat used. However, these fats are characterised by their easy separation from the muscle fraction as they are well-visible and mainly found in the outer part of the products or as striates or nodes infiltrating the muscle. These fats, which are functional for the success of the product during the production phases and important for its typical organoleptic features can therefore be considered as discretionary intake, as most of them can be easily eliminated during the meal.

This, however, cannot be said for other types of deli meats, made up from a mixture of muscle and fatty parts, chopped or minced coarsely depending on their type, where separation of the muscle and fatty parts is indispensable during consumption. As far as micronutrients are concerned, they have high vitamin content, especially the B group, and are high in mineral salts such as iron, zinc and controversial sodium. As already mentioned, the bromatological composition of deli meats is extremely variable for each type of product taken into consideration, therefore a fundamental role is covered by the recipe and the technology applied during production; aspects already considered and described previously.

 

The important contribution of the raw material must also be acknowledged. It is due to the different weight that these three factors carry that it is possible to observe the different phases of evolution in the composition of deli meats. The analytic data that has highlighted the evolution of the raw material comes from studies carried out in the early 90’s on the composition of pig meat (which also supplied the nutritional values of deli meats known until this moment). With respect to that disclosed previously, this shows a net improvement of the lipid profile. It is most of all thanks to the development of rearing techniques, and therefore human intervention regarding feed and level of sedentariness of the animal, that this change is made. It must be underlined that the larger amount of fats present in deli meats in the past were necessary and functional at the time. In the first place, because the derivatives of slaughtering had to be preserved for as long as possible: a large amount of external fat, rich in saturated fats, supplied protection against oxidation and rancidity.

The energy and fat requirements of the consumers of the epoch were, without a doubt, much higher with respect to the modern consumer, as they effectively burned much more calories owing to manual labour, journeys on foot and permanence in cold environments, particularly in winter periods (meaning they had none of the common comforts which we are used to today). The change in lifestyle taking place over the last ten years, along with the scientific evidence of the excessive calorie and lipid intake of the general population with the well-known consequences for health, has pushed towards change. In this way, the intervention on the composition of meat and its derivatives (as all food products) has contributed in facing up to the increasingly more serious problems connected to the global increase of being overweight, obesity and metabolic disorders, at the same time realizing guidelines for appropriate consumption from a qualitative and quantitative point of view.

The objective of modifying the diet, both animal (in order to improve the nutritional profile of the relative derivatives) and human, arises from here. The pig (belonging to breeds cleverly selected on the basis of the protein and fat ratio in its meat), which has shown itself to be an extremely adaptable animal in responding to these human demands, has been prescribed with a mainly vegetable diet substantially based on maize-barley-soya, integrated with vitamins and mineral salts. The diet and zoo-technical factors (rearing systems that allow fat deposit mainly at an adipose level rather than muscular), has given rise to a raw material characterised by high concentrations of vitamins and minerals, as well as progressively reduced fat contents, with a balanced content of saturated and unsaturated fats: the latter have passed from 30% to over 60% of the total fats. Regarding the physical composition of the products (with reference to the different recipes and formulations), remember that due to their nature, deli meats are subject to regulatory and technological restrictions. In the first case, reference is made to the determination and fixation with traditional recipes and the increasing number of PDO and PGI marked products, the composition of which is established by precise production specifications, thus limiting the possibility of interventions aimed at improving the nutritional profile.

In primis, the technological production restrictions regard the fact that salt is the basis of the preservation technique of matured deli meats: therefore, any intervention on this natural substance used as a preservative and seasoning, but at the same time supplier of sodium, is more complex and delicate. In spite of this, progress in production techniques have led to a general improvement of the nutritional profile of these products, while respecting tradition, allowing them to continue being a pillar of worldwide renowned Italian food culture.