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What are ‘Enhanced’ Meats?

Posted on: October 15th, 2013

Reviewing the meat case of a local supermarket, I noted tiny print on a pre-packaged steak that said. “TENDERNESS & JUICINESS IMPROVED WITH UP TO 12% OF A PATENTED SOLUTION”. I couldn’t resist, I just had to taste it, and so I took it home. I wasn’t surprised to find it tasted thin, watery and salty. These supermarket cuts are nothing more than cheaply made enhanced meats.

FIlet Mignon Cooked

We proudly offer Natural fresh meats at Tony’s without added water and chemical flavorings.

It’s All in the Marketing

Well hidden on the back panel I found their patented solution…”Beef Broth, Potassium Lactate, Sodium Phosphate, Salt, Sodium Diacetate, Flavorings, and Sprayed with a solution of Water & Ascorbic Acid to maintain color.”  Further study meats offered in this major grocer revealed pork, chicken and turkey with 15% added ‘solution’, ham with 23%, and lunchmeat with 28%.

Common marketing terms for this practice are Enhanced, Brined and Basted. However it boils down to the same thing; adding water, chemicals, flavorings, salts to artificially increasing weight to low-grade meats.

Additive free pork chops stuffed with my green chile and cheddar dressing, exclusively at Tony's Markets.

Additive free pork chops stuffed with my green chile and cheddar dressing, exclusively at Tony’s Markets.

Tony's Flatiron Steak, a great choice for the grill or Big Green Egg!

Tony’s Flatiron Steak, a great choice for the grill or Big Green Egg!

As appalling as this may sound the pork & poultry industries have been doing this for years. Sadly, up to 70% of all pork and poultry sold in America is ‘enhanced’.  As a matter of fact, several major grocery locally sell ONLY ‘Enhanced pork and chicken to an unsuspecting public. I was not surprised to see this practice make its way to beef…disgusted yes, but not surprised.

Why Enhanced Meats?

Enhanced meats have become far more common that Natural meats. They’re used almost exclusively in fast foods and are very common in restaurants, schools and institutions and grocery stores. By adding chemical flavorings, processors can increase the flavor and juiciness of a low-grade product. At the same time enhanced meats increase the weight and profits. Adding water weight makes meats appear to be less expensive, enough to fool most folks, but who really wants to pay for water and chemical flavorings?!  Personally I don’t want them in there at any price!

Grilled Curry Chicken from Tony's Deli

Grilled Curry Chicken from Tony’s Deli, we never used enhanced chicken at Tony’s!

Deceptive Marketing Is Too Common!

It is not uncommon for companies to use marketing tactics to present their products in a favorable light, and some may use deceptive practices to mislead customers. However, companies need to be transparent and honest with their customers to maintain trust and build long-term relationships.

Saffron Chicken Breast from Tony's deli case.

Saffron Chicken Breast from Tony’s deli case.

How To Choose Great Meats

Great tasting meats have nothing to do with marketing; they’re a product of good genetics, high quality feed, great living conditions and quality animal husbandry by responsible farmers.

A savvy consumer must be able to look past the fancy marketing tricks and choose food for it’s taste, quality, and healthfulness. To avoid buying meats with additives start looking at the ingredient panel to see what’s really in the package.  Also look for products clearly labeled as “Natural”, when used as a labeling term it means the meat product is minimally processed and does not have any additives.
It saddens me to say the days of ‘The Old Fashioned Butcher’ are almost gone, there are but a handful of us left in Colorado. At Tony’s, we’re been keeping the craft alive since 1978, and we’re dedicated to continue bringing you the finest quality meats possible – without gimmicks, misleading marketing or shortcuts.

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