Enhanced meat, sometimes referred to as value-added meat, is any meat product that has been “enhanced” by the addition of a solution. In the United States, enhanced meat must be properly labeled according to the Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines. There are a couple of different methods in which meat can be enhanced.
Typically, enhanced meat is simply a cut of meat that has been injected with a water solution that contains salt and sodium phosphate, a solution that is supposed to add both flavor and moisture to leaner cuts of meat. Such enhanced meat products are labeled accordingly and often bare words similar to “enhanced with up to 10% of a solution.” According to the FDA, meat animals are bred to be leaner than in years past and the addition of a solution, which constitutes enhanced meat products, helps make meat containing less fat moister and more flavorful.
Enhanced meat can also be a cut of meat that has been marinated or injected with seasonings or flavoring such as teriyaki, lemon or garlic. Again, such meat products must be clearly labeled with the type and method of seasoning used. The term marinated can only be used with a maximum percentage of added flavoring solution.
The three most common methods of creating an enhanced meat product are injection, soaking, and marinating. Many times, a cut of meat that has been soaked is obvious because the meat has been packaged with the solution and the seasoning can be seen in the package. Enhanced meat with a flavor solution injected is not always obvious, but the label must state the product’s additives.
Some people consider enhanced meat to be any cut of meat that has been altered from its naturally occurring state including the addition of preservatives or the injection of hormones into the animal before butchering. Therefore some people believe enhanced meat is not organic.
Though the qualifications for organic certification vary from country to country, certified organic meat contains no chemical additives. However, contrary to the belief that enhanced meat can not be organic, certified organic meat can still be considered an enhanced meat product if it has been marinated or injected with flavorings. Though the injection solution can't be chemical, an organic meat product can be enhanced with flavoring and still be certified organic.