Group of scientists at Kaunas University of Technology (KTU), Lithuania are investigating the possibilities of using berry pomace to increase the safety of meat products and, probably, to mitigate their negative effects on human health. 

According to the hypothesis raised by the scientists, phytochemicals, i.e., the biologically active natural compounds found in berries, might mitigate the negative impact of additives used in meat products.

According to the World Health Organization, consuming 50 g of processed meat a day (an equivalent of two slices of bacon) increases the chance of developing colorectal cancer by 18%.

WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies meat in the same category as tobacco smoking and asbestos (Group 1, carcinogenic to humans).

Meat products

Processed meat refers to meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavor to improve preservation.

"Nitrites and nitrates, used in meat products for increasing their taste and shelf-life, in the process of digestion can become carcinogenic nitrosamines. is heated at very high temperature ", says Professor Rimantas Venskutonis, Chief Researcher at Food Science and Technology Department, KTU, Lithuania.

A research group led by Prof Venskutonis is investigating the properties of phytochemicals derived from berry pomace be considered for counteracting the damaging effects of hazardous compounds in meat products.

After several years of work on the subject, the scientists from different countries have collected a great body of scientific evidence on the beneficial properties of bioactive ingredients found in berries they are strong antioxidants, capable of subduing inflammatory processes in the organism, they can help diminish the risk of cardiovascular diseases and even destroy cancer cells.

"There is sufficient scientific evidence, both from our research and from that of our colleagues in other institutions, that some of the active substances found in berries could inhibit the process of carcinogenic substances formation in meat during heating," said Prof Venskutonis.

"Moreover, once these substances are present in a human organism, they can activate certain defense mechanisms, detoxification systems and in such a way they might reduce the risk associated with the consumption of processed meat," said Prof Venskutonis.