ingredient information
Sodium Phosphate
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A chemical compound that is used to preserve food by retaining the moisture in the food to make it juicy and more pleasing when consumed. According to Larry Borchert, a professor of muscle biology and meat science at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, hams do not naturally hold water. The two proteins that make up the muscles of a ham, actin and myosin, bind together to form a complex protein known as actomyosin. Actomyosin is not water-soluble, but it is salt- soluble. Thus ham manufacturers must inject sodium phosphate into supermarket hams to enable the muscles to retain water. The advantage of this treatment can be that a ham does not end up completely dehydrated after processing. The disadvantage, however, is that the ham can be so pumped up with water, or "highly extended," as Borchert phrased it, that it takes on an unpalatably damp, spongy texture and a watered-down flavor. This was the case with all of the "water product" hams and, to a lesser degree, the "hamwater added"