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Call for Action: Pumped up by meat

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- If you typically marinate meat before you put it on the grill, you should learn to read labels. Otherwise you may end up with a very salty piece of meat that is mushy because you have purchased “pumped up” or “enhanced” meat.

What do you need to know before you pour on the marinade?

Many meat products such as pork, beef, chicken and turkey are injected with a solution that changes the flavor and texture of the meat For example, one label I read on a pork product indicated it had been injected with pork broth, potassium lactate, salt, sodium phosphate, and natural flavoring.

This solution, which can be up to 30 % of the product, raised the sodium level to 410 milligrams per 4 ounce serving versus about 70 milligrams before “enhancement”.

And, if you use a marinade, the sodium level goes even higher and can affect the texture of the meat. That’s why it’s very important to read labels before you buy the product. In addition, for people on low sodium diets, it makes reading labels on meat products especially important.

One study found that four ounces of chicken breast that had been injected with a salt solution had 540 milligrams of sodium, more than a quarter of the recommended daily allowance of sodium for healthy adults.

What is the rationale for adding this liquid to meats? Food companies claim that the injected solution makes the meat more tender and flavorful and better able to retain moisture during cooking. And some consumers agree with this claim.

However, critics say that it results in meats that are “mushy” and salty. In a recent visit to the supermarket the pork tenderloin that had not been “enhanced” cost $6.49 a pound. The tenderloin that had been “enhanced” cost nearly 50 cents more per pound. Just think, you are paying a hefty price for a salt solution.

Are there meat products that aren’t “enhanced”? Yes, but have to read nutrition labels. Unfortunately, many people aren’t aware of what has happened to fresh meats. One study found that 60 percent of consumers weren’t aware that some meats are being injected with a salt solution. Additional information is available at: www.virtualweberbullet.com/enhancedmeat.html