Old World Tradition Meets New World Expertise.
Basics of Spices and Other Non-meat Ingredients
Jay B. Wenther, Ph. D. American Association of Meat Processors
Spices have been around for ages and the history of spices is entwined with exploration, adventure, religious missions, commerce and conquest. A majority of today’s poplar spices can be traced back to the East. India, Southeast Asia, and China have given us anise, basil, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, garlic, ginger, mace, nutmeg, onions, pepper, tamarind, and turmeric. Other spices such as bay leaf, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, fenugreek, rosemary, sage, sesame, and thyme came from the Middle East, North Africa, and other parts of the Mediterranean. The colder regions of Europe have provided us with juniper and horseradish, while the Americas gave us allspice, chili peppers, and sassafras. From the Bible, we know that King Solomon counted spices among the valuables in his treasury. Today the United States is the biggest spice importer and the largest consumer of spices in the world in an attempt to satisfy the American consumer’s desire of “new” flavors. A new revolution has begun in the eating patterns and way spices are used. North American palates are becoming more daring and adventurous to seek a variety of flavors in the food that is consumed.
The word spice came from the Latin word “species,” meaning specific kind. The name reflects the fact that all plant parts have been cultivated for their aromatic, fragrant, pungent or any other desirable properties. Spices are the building blocks of flavor in meat products. Spices stimulate the appetite, add flavor and texture to food and create visual appeal to meat products.
Spice Forms and Composition
Spices are available in many forms: fresh, dried, whole, ground, crushed, pureed, as paste and as extractives. The form chosen by the meat processors will depend on the specific application and processing parameter.
Consumers are appealed by the perception of spices being “natural.” Consumers relate this concept with “fresh” spices. The freshness of spices comes initially from their aroma. Freshness may be lost during harvesting, storage, processing and handling. Fresh ingredients, especially whole spices, when freshly ground, give prepared foods a fresh taste. Whole spices provide aroma, and most importantly, texture and visual effect. The uneven distribution of whole spices in a product can be problematic, although whole spices provide great visual appeal. If whole spices are used in the production of processed meat product, the manufacturing procedures may need to be modified to ensure that the spices stay in the “whole” form. The manufacturing procedures need to follow two grinding steps and then a mixing step instead of the common grind, mix grind procedure. The flavor of whole spices is intact and is not as will released when compared to ground spice. Flavor consistency of whole spices is difficult because of their origin, age, and storage condition. Therefore, in most cases dry spices and spice extractives are utilized.
Spices are often used in their dried forms because they are not subjected to seasonal availability, are easier to process, have a longer shelf life and have lower cost. Dried spices come whole, finely or coarsely ground, cracked and as various-sized particulates. Spices are ground by milling them to various sized particulates. The grinding also generates rapid air movement and heat that dissipates some of the volatile oils and in turn affects the flavor of the spice. Ground spices have better dispersibility in meat products than whole spices. In some spices, the flavor in intensified through drying because of the elimination of most moisture. Whether a dried spice is used ground, granulated, cracked, or whole will depend on its use in specific processed meat applications. Some processed meat products have characteristic spices, such as cracked black pepper in Thuringer Cervelat sausage.
The sensory, physical and chemical characteristics of dried spices are determined by environment, climate, soil condition, time of harvesting, and post-harvest handling. The same type of spice can have different sensory characteristics depending on where it was grown and how it was harvested, stored and processed. Dried spices can have some disadvantages. Some have poor flavor intensity, can cause discoloring in the finished product and can create an undesirable appearance in the product. For example, dried ground cayenne can cause irregular variations in flavor and color, sometimes creating “hot” spots in meat products. Anti-caking agents are added to ensure better flow-ability of dried spices. Spice extractives are highly concentrated forms of spices which contain volatile and non-volatile oils that give each spice its characteristic flavor. The volatile portions of a spice extractives, also referred to as essential oils, characterize the particular aroma of the spice.
The non-volatiles include fixed oils, gums, resins, antioxidants, and hydrophilic compounds, and they contribute the taste of a spice. The ratio of volatiles to non-volatiles varies among spices causing flavor similarities and differences within a genus and even within a variety. They vary depending upon the species of spice, its source, environmental growing and harvesting conditions and storage and preparation methods. Spice extractives come as natural liquids (which include essential oils, oleoresins and aquaresins) and dry encapsulated oils (spray dried powders and dry solubles). Developed from fresh or coarsely ground spices, spice extractives are standardized for color, aroma, and in some cased, their antioxidant activity. They are more concentrated than dried or fresh spices and so are used at much lower levels.
The Function of Spices
Spices serve many functions in food products. Their primary functions are to flavor meat products and to provide aroma, texture, and color. Spices are composed of fiber, carbohydrates, fat, sugar, protein, gum, ash, volatile (essential oils) and other non-volatile components. The flavor component (volatile and non-volatile) are protected with a matrix of carbohydrate, protein, fiber and other cell components. When the spice is ground, cut or crushed, the cell matrix breaks down and releases the volatile components.
Spices give characterizing tastes and aroma. They give six basic taste perceptions: Sweet, Salty, Spicy, Bitter, Sour, and Hot. The taste sensations are generally experienced at different locations of the tongue: Sweet: – Tip of the Tongue Salty – Front side of the tongue Sour – Across rear of the tongue Bitter – Rear side of the tongue Heat – Different parts of the tongue Most spices have more than a single flavor profile. A spice’s textural qualities are derived from its specific physical characteristics, the form in which it is used in a formulation (e.g. whole or ground)
Some spices, such as saffron and paprika provide color as well as flavor to processed meat products. The overall coloring given by a spice is sometimes a combined effect of two or more of its coloring components. Spices can impart a characteristic color to processed meat products which are recognized by consumers (e.g. pepperoni).
Spices have long been known for their preservative qualities, as anti-microbials and as antioxidants. Spices have strong, moderate or slight inhibitory activity against specific bacteria. The aldehydes, sulfur, terpenes and their derivatives, phenols and alcohols found in spices exhibit strong antimicrobial activity. Some spices have antioxidant properties. The natural occurring phenolic compounds in spices are effective against oxidative rancidity of fats and color deterioration of the processed meat product pigments. Spices, such as rosemary, can prevent rancidity and extend shelf life by slowing the oxidation of fats and enzymes. During the process of oxidative rancidity, fats are broken down into peroxides (free radicals) with exposure to air or oxygen and finally into aldehydes and alcohols that give a rancid taste. Spices can halt the oxidative process by blocking or “scavenging: the free radicals.
Exposure to light, humidity variations, air and certain metals can discolor many spices such as paprika or green leafy spices. Flavor and aroma losses as well as insect and rodent infestation occur when spices are not stored in airtight containers. Spices of spice extractives should be stored in tightly closed containers in cool, dark, dry conditions below 68 °F and 60% humidity.
Colder temperature also helps preserve volatile oil flavor and aroma, freshness, and sanitary quality. Refrigeration also slows microbial growth in ground or whole spices. The shelf life of ground spices is about three to four months at refrigeration temperature, and whole spices have about one to one and a half years of shelf life. Good storage conditions, monitoring and specifications are important in retaining quality attribute of spices.
Non-meat Ingredients used in Curing
Basic additives are included in processed meat formulations to impart the uniqueness that is characteristic of processed meat products. These additives perform specific functions with meat during and after processing. Some common additives utilized in processed meat formulations are water or ice, salt, curing salts, cure accelerators, phosphates, as well as others non-meat ingredients.
While meat already contains a large amount (about 60-75%) of water, additional water frequently is added to processed meat for some very functional reasons. Water is the common ingredient used in processed meat formulations to dissolve ingredients and thoroughly incorporate them throughout raw meat. Distribution is very important to ingredients such as curing agents which are used in minimal quantities and need to be evenly spread throughout the product. Water is also used to maintain profit margins due to shrinkage in heat processing. The additional water aids in replacing water that may be lost during the cooking process. Moreover, water is used to maintain a moist juicy end product. The amount of water added can contribute to the texture of the final product. With all else equal, additional water will soften texture, increase tenderness, and affect the general “mouth feel” of the product. This means the added water is one means of compensating for the hardness that typically results when fat content is reduced in formulations where lo-fat is an objective. Sensible use of added water is important because too much can also result in excessive product softness and mushiness. The quantity of water contained in processed meat (including poultry) products, that is in excess of the normal water content in the unprocessed form is termed added water. In some cases the USDA regulates the amount of water that can be added to processed meat products.
Ice or a mixture of ice and water has the advantage of temperature control. Control of temperatures is obviously important for microbial reasons but is also practically important for improved protein solubility. Meat myofibrillar proteins are more soluble at lower temperatures, but more importantly, temperature control will allow more mixing or chopping to physically extract protein. This will greatly increase available proteins for water-binding, fat binding, and/or product adhesion. The use of ice is especially effective for this because of the latent heat of crystallization. Ice is effective because of the large amount of heat energy required for the phase change from solid to liquid (without a temperature change). Ice chills the meat during chipping or mixing operations, which permits longer and more efficient processing without mechanical overheating due to friction.
One potential problem that meat processors should be aware of for water is the potential for hard water to introduce product quality problems. Hard water can contain metals, such as iron, which are strong pro-oxidants and may cause rancidity and off-flavors to develop quickly. Pro-oxidants may also affect product color and color stability. Nitrate can be a contaminant in water sources as well but is not a major concern to processed meats. There have been claims of nitrate causing color change (cured color) in fresh products, but this would be unusual. There is seldom enough conversion of nitrate to nitrite to induce color effects, unless extended storage time is involved and growth of nitrate-reducing bacteria occurs.
Salt is basic to all curing mixtures. Salt makes up the bulk of the curing mixture, not only because it is a good preservative, but also because it provides the most desirable flavor. Another function of salt is as a dehydrating agent which acts by altering osmotic pressure and thus inhibiting bacterial growth and subsequent spoilage. Salt is also used to solubilize meat proteins (myofibrillar proteins). Salt is added at 4-5% to the lean meat portion of the meat block. This gives a temporary high concentration in meat to improve protein extraction. After protein extraction, the salt can be diluted to proper levels (2-2.5%) with the remainder of the ingredients. This procedure effects fat stability, binding properties, water retention, texture, and slicing characteristics. Salt, or sodium chloride, is an ingredient of two components. The sodium ion is the element in salt that is important to flavor. The chloride ion provides water retention in processed meats. Myofibrils will swell and absorb water in the presence of chloride, giving general improvements in yields, texture, and palatability. Salt is present in the finished product at a level of about 2.2%. For related health reasons, consumers have attempted to reduce sodium intake, thus the level of sodium in most formulations through the years. The use of salt is the oldest known form of preservation for perishable products and was quite likely discovered entirely by accident. The purity of the salt used in the curing process is very important. Only food grade salt should be used in curing, since impure salt can cause flavor and color problems. Impurities in salt in the form of trace copper, iron, and chromium have a marked effect on the development of oxidative rancidity in cured meat products. For many years, farmers cured their own cuts of pork using crude salt and well water. It was discovered that the meat assumed a pinkish color due to the nitrite in the salt and the well water. Salt used in meat processing can be in three different forms: Crystalline, Dendritic, and Encapsulated. Crystalline salt is the native form of salt when added to a brine, it will solubilize proteins and add flavor. Dendritic salt is an easy dissolving crystalline form. Encapsulated salt is coated with a vegetable fat or beef tallow that prevents it from solubilizing proteins but still provides the flavor of salt. Due to the harsh, dry, salty final product as a consequence of the use of salt alone, it is generally used in combination with sugar, nitrite, and other ingredients.
Curing agents are limited to either sodium or potassium nitrate (NO3) and sodium or potassium nitrite (NO2). Curing agents, particularly nitrite, are another group of nonmeat ingredients that are absolutely essential to meat processing. Nirite was orginally discovered as an impurity in salt and has been used in small amounts for thousands of years to cure meat. When nitrate was added in the form of saltpeter (potassium and sodium nitrate) it was noted that the pinkish color of the meat product was preserved. Nitrite performs multiple functions at extremely small concentrations. Nitrite is limited to 1/4 ounce (7 grams) per 100 lbs of meat when added to chopped or mixed products. The regulatory process has limited use of nitrite to that needed to produce an effect and to minimize any possibility that any of the substances used may be harmful to human health. Meat curing with nitrite is a process that cannot be reproduced by any other compound. There have been exhaustive searches for a substitute because the use of nitrite has been controversial, but it has become clear that there is no substitute available for nitrite.
The function of nitrite in meat curing is four-fold:
(1) to stabilize the color of the lean tissues,
(2) to contribute to the characteristic flavor of cured meat,
(3) to inhibit growth of a number of food poisoning and spoilage microorganisms, and,
(4) to retard developement of rancidity.
Through research, it was concluded that nitrate was converted to nitrite by microbial action in the meat and that direct action of nitrite would eliminate the need for microbial conversion and make the curing process more controllable and predictable. Nitric oxide is produced by the reduction of nitrate or nitrite. The pigments react with nitric oxide to produce the stable pigments characteristic of cured meat. Since nitrite reacts quicker and less is required for color stabilization, it is being widely used in place of nitrate. The most obvious function is cured color development. The reaction and production of color indicated that production of nitric oxide (NO) from nitrite has occurred. NO reacts directly with meat pigment to change the pigment to, first a nitroso-heme pigment (raw) and finally to a nitrosyl-heme pigment (cooked). The nitrosyl-heme is the most stable and provides the desired, cured pink-red color.
Cured color must be developed prior to cooking or color will be poor. In high speed, high volume production such as frankfurters, past experience has shown that products may have gray, uncured centers if cooking occurs too quickly. Production of NO from nitrite is also facilitated by reducing conditions. Again, meat has inherent reducing compounds that serve this role but may be slower than desired. Addition of ascorbate or erythorbate provide very active reductants to greatly accelerate NO production. Use of these reductants is the preferred way to accelerate curing reactions. Flavor contributions of nitrite can be considered in two aspects. A “cured” flavor, as noted in hams and other similar products, seems to be due to nitrite and cannot be reproduced with other ingredients. Flavor protection is also provided by nitrite since it is a very effective anti-oxidant in meat systems. Cured meat consequently is well protected from oxidation of fat and the associated rancid flavors. Although color stabilization was originally the primary purpose of adding nitrite to curing mixtures, its effect on flavor and inhibition of bacterial growth are even more important. It was already established in the early 1950’s that nitrite afforded specific protection against outgrowth of spores of the Clostridium botulinum organism. Without the use of nitrite, there are few doubts that there would be a tremendous increase in the number of deaths due to botulism. Evidence also suggests the levels of nitrite found in cured meat may also aid in preventing the growth of other spoilage and food poisoning organisms. Nitrite is also extremely valuable as an antioxidant. The means by which nitrite acts as an antioxidant is not entirely clear. Nitrite is a strong radical scavenger and is likely to react with the radicals produced as lipids are oxidized.
As mentioned earlier, there are often times that meat processors need to speed up curing reactions or may need to drive the reaction to more complete conversion of nitrite. Cure accelerators are non-meat ingredients that can be used for this. There are two general approaches to accelerating the curing reaction. The first option is to use acidulants to decrease the meat product pH. Compounds used as acidulants include glucono delta lactond (GDL) which at 0.5% in a meat mixture will decrease the pH about 0.2-0.3 pH units. This would be enough to soluble the rate of nitric oxide formation. A more likely acidulant for speeding up nitrite reactions is sodium acid pyrophosphate (SAPP). SAPP is permitted at levels up to 0.5% and at that level, it will reduce meat product pH about 0.2-0.3 pH units, similar to GDL. Other acids such as citric acid are also options for manipulating product pH. However, decreased pH in most cooked products creates concern for reduced water binding and decreased yields. The second option for accelerating curing reactions is to use reductants. This approach is the most common because the reductants effectively increase production of nitric oxide from nitrite but pH is not changed. Compounds that can be used as reductants include ascorbic acid, erythorbic acid, sodium ascorbate or sodium erythorbate. The concept behind adding sodium erythorbate to formulations is to increase the reduction of metmyoglobin to myoglobin thus accelerating the cure reaction. The USDA issued a regulation in 1978 which required that absorbate or its isomer erythorbate, be used at a level of 547 ppm in injected and comminuted products, with the exception of bacon which is required at 550 ppm. The antioxidant properties of erythorbate not only prevent development of rancidity, but also prevent fading of sliced meats when exposed to light. If erythorbate is present, the pigments are protected against breakdown. As erythorbate is depleted, the heme pigments are degraded and apparently catalyze lipid oxidation.
Another non-meat ingredient which has multiple functions is phosphates. Phosphates are very important to improving water-binding and yields. The action of phosphates in improving water retention appears to be two-fold: (1) raising the pH and (2) causing an unfolding of the muscle proteins, thereby making more sites available for water binding. The pH effect of the phosphates is one of the most important reasons for their use. Addition of phosphates at 0.4-0.5% will increase product pH about 0.2-0.3 pH units, enough to substantially increase yields and reduce vacuum package purge. Remember, this pH change is opposite what is needed to accelerate the curing reaction, consequently, phosphates have potential to slow the curing reaction. The pH change in processed meats needs to be balanced between cured color development (reduced pH) and water-binding (increased pH). The specific protein effects of phosphates in meat systems include partial solubilization of structural proteins that restrict swelling. Muscle proteins are held together in a rigid structure which hold the structure together. Phosphates also prevent the proteins from moving very far apart when salt is added in attempt to increase water uptake and binding. Release of these protein structures allows significantly more space to develop between proteins for more water uptake and greater protein solubility. Another effect is the chelation of cations by phosphates that will also contribute to control of oxidation reactions because man of the cations (iron, copper, etc.) which are catalysts for fat oxidation reactions. By chelating the catalysts, phosphates provide an antioxidant function. The anti-microbial effects of phosphate are not will understood but may also be due to the chelating activity. Phosphates typically inhibit bacteria that produce “milky” or cloudy purge in vacuum packages and may do so by binding an essential nutrient. Phosphates and salt have been noted to have a synergistic effect on water holding capacity. The amount of protein solublized by adding 0.3% phosphate to a meat mixture with 1.8% salt has been shown to be over 40% greater than the amount of protein solubilized by 1.8% salt alone. Therefore, more water can be bound by meat proteins. There have been some concerns for off favors or “soapy” flavors resulting from the use of phosphates, but generally these seem to occur only at relatively high levels, will above the 0.5% permitted in processed meats. They may also produce a rubbery texture. Another problem sometimes encountered in utilizing phosphates has been the occurrence of crystals on the surface of the cured product. Because of the corrosive nature of phosphates, the equipment utilized must be made of stainless steel or plastic. Canned hams pumped with phosphates should always be placed in anodized cans.
In addition to color, texture, and moisture retention, another absolutely critical role of non-meat ingredients in processed meat is that of flavoring agents, sensory enhancers and/or flavor products.
Sweetners or sugars are important to flavor profiles. Sucrose, or cane sugar, is one that has been used for many years in hams and similar products where sweetness is desirable. In the past, sucrose was sometimes used to moderate the flavor of salt and allow use of high salt concentrations for improved shelf life. Sucrose will reduce the saltiness perception at reduced salt levels as well. Sucrose is the standard for comparing other sugars for sweetness and is commonly given a “100” sweetness value for comparison. Sucrose is also a nonreducing sugar which means that is will not brown when exposed to heat in meat products. Sucrose is a combination of glucose and fructose compounds. Addition of sucrose to processed meats may increase the likelihood of microbial growth because sugars are a very good substrate for bacterial growth. Dextrose, or corn sugar, is also a sweetner but is about 70 on a relative sweetness scale compared with sucrose. This is still sweet enough to make dextrose a “self-limiting” sweetner so there is no regulatory limit.
A significant difference between sucrose and dextrose is that dextrose is a browning sugar and a reducing sugar. This means that the dextrose will react with the proteins when heated and produce browning reaction products. Dextrose will readily develop grill marks and brown surfaces on products when cooked. Dextrose is also the most common sugar used for fermented sausage because starter cultures grow very readily on dextrose. Sucrose is also very effective for fermentations but dextrose is by far the most frequently used. Dextrose is converted to lactic acid by the starter culture and the product pH will be directly proportional to the dextrose added at levels below about 0.75%. Corn syrup and corn syrup solids are another sweetener. Corn syrups are a mixture of sugars because they result from corn starch processing. Because of this, they are also variable in reducing sugar content. The primary purpose of corn syrup and corn syrup solids is to improve moisture retention of meat mixtures and aid in “plumpness” of the final product. Corn syrup and corn syrup solids also improve peel-ability of casings from frankfurters. This may also be a result of improved moisture retention. There is no regulatory limit on the use of sweeteners. When used, sweeteners are generally added at levels of 1%-2%.
Antioxidants are compounds that are used where loss of flavor or freshness may become a problem as in dry sausage and fresh pork sausage. Antioxidants will significantly slow down the oxidative deterioration of fat. Butylated hydroxyl toulent (BHT) butylated hydroxly anisole (BHA), teritary butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ), and propyl gallate are all condidered primary antioxidants. They may be used at levels of 0.01% of the fat in pork sausage (0.02% in combination) and 0.003% of the product weight in dry sausage (0.006% in combination).
Several flavor modifiers can be used to add or intensify flavors. One of these is monosodium glutamate (MSG). This compound is unique in that is sensitizes human taste buds to increase the intensity of flavors already present. It is also considered to be a source of “umami” flavor, which is described as a meat-like flavor component. Umami flavor is one of the five fundamental flavor components that humans experience as part of taste. Usage is product-dependent with most applications in products where increased flavor intensity is needed. MSG is permitted at levels “sufficient for purpose” and is most often used at 6-8 ounces per 100 lbs (0.5%) when included.
Starter Cultures & Acidulants
Starter cultures are used for fermented sausages are clearly flavoring agents and are listed as such by the USDA. Starter cultures provide a strong flavor effect because they form lactic acid from dextrose. The latic acid is responsible for the “tanginess” or “tartness” that is characteristic of fermented sausage. These cultures are hoofermentative, meaning they produce only lactic acid. There are several cultures available for a variety of fermentation conditions. Different cultures are used and different flavor effects are produced. Starter cultures produce a number of flavor components in addition to the lactic acid. The bottom line is that different cultures can result in different flavor profiles, especially when comparing rapid, high-temperature fermentation with slow, low teperature fermentations. A pH change occurs as lactic acid is produced by the starter culture during fermentation. This production is important for much more than flavor. Developement of acid is also important to deveopement of cured color because of the pH effect on curing reactions as discussed previously. If the end product pH is sufficent to meet the USDA regulations, the product could be known as shelf stable. Encapsulated acids (citric and lactic) are non-meat ingredients that are gaining popularity because the process is faster that traditional fermentation and the amount of acid is consistent. Encapsulated acids are small droplets of acid that are coated with a cottonseed-soybean oil coating. The coating is solid at room temperature but melts when the product is heated to about 135°F. The acid is released slowly enoough to produce typical fermented sausage texture and flavor.
In recent years, the application of liquid smoke has increased in commercial processing operations. Liquid smoke has several advantages over the use of natural smoke. First, it does not require the installation of a smoke generator, which usually requires a major financial outlay. Second, the process is more repeatable, as the composition of liquid smoke is more constant. Third, liquid smoke can be prepared with the particle phase removed, and thereby possible problems from carcinogens can be alleviated. Fourth, liquid smoke application created little atmospheric pollution and can be applied easily. And fifth, liquid smoke application is faster than conventional smoking, resulting in more through-put per unit. A typical liquid smoke solution prepared and used by meat processors consists of 20 to 30 parts liquid smoke and 65 to 75 parts water. The application of liquid smoke can be performed in several fashions. It may be mixed or incorporated directly into the product. In industry today, atomizing or spraying the liquid smoke into a dense fog and injecting it into the smokehouse to adhere to the meat products.
Binders and extenders include several different ingredients that can be used to increase binding properties of a meat mixture and/or gain an economic advantage. They are added to meat formulations for one or more of the following reasons:
(1) to reduce formulation costs,
(2) to improve cooking yield,
(3) to improve slicing characteristics,
(4) to improve flavor,
(5) to increase the protein content,
(6) to improve emulsion stability
(7) to improve fat binding, and
(8) to increase water binding.
There are a variety of binders and ectenders commercialy available. Examples of a few are listed belowAnimal Protein SourcesMilk Protein, Blood Plasma Carbohydrate SourcesStarches, Konjac flour, Carageenan, Xanthan gum Vegetable Protein SourcesSoy protein, Wheat protein, Oat protein, Fruit powder
As shown, there are a variety of spices and nonmeat ingredients that may be used in the formulation of processed meat products. Spices provide the opportunity to produce unique processed meat products. Some nonmeat ingredients are essential in the production of characteristic flavors, colors, and texture required of processed meat products, while others aid in the developement profiles unique to certain products. Prior to production, specific time must be given to product formulation. Some nonmeat ingredients are specifically regulated by the USDA. compliance to the USDA regulations, as with any other regulations, must be performed to sell the final product to consumers.