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Title:
PROCESS OF PREPARING A STERILIZED WET PET FOOD PRODUCT
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2016/176466
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A process of preparing a sterilized wet pet food product is provided, as well as a sterilized wet pet food product provided by the process. Use of the wet pet food product to feed a companion animal is also contemplated.

Inventors:
MAO MATHIEU (DE)
BECKMANN CHRISTOPH HENDRIK (DE)
PANNEVIS MARINUS (DE)
OLIVARES ALICIA (DE)
WOLLMANN NADINE (DE)
Application Number:
US2016/029814
Publication Date:
November 03, 2016
Filing Date:
April 28, 2016
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
MARS INC (US)
International Classes:
A23K50/48; A23K10/16; A23K10/20; A23K10/22; A23K20/10; A23K20/111; A23K40/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO2007073945A12007-07-05
WO2015044300A12015-04-02
WO2014098193A12014-06-26
WO2011014256A22011-02-03
Foreign References:
US4791002A1988-12-13
US6280779B12001-08-28
US20120141643A12012-06-07
US20100272655A12010-10-28
US6660319B12003-12-09
EP0241097A11987-10-14
US4070490A1978-01-24
US20120141643A12012-06-07
US20110189367A12011-08-04
US20140227386A12014-08-14
US20140328976A12014-11-06
Other References:
See also references of EP 3288394A4
TESHIMA ET AL.: "Yeast extract in dogs feeding: digestibility and palatability", 44TH ANNUAL MEETING OF THE BRAZILIAN ZOOTECHNY SOCIETY, 24 July 2006 (2006-07-24)
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JORDAHL, Kimberly, S. (Willernie, MN, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
A process of preparing a sterilized wet pet food product comprising:

a) preparing a meaty mass having a water content of at least 40 wt.% by mixing the following ingredients:

• 30-95% by weight of the meaty mass of ground animal material selected from meat, animal by-products and combinations thereof;

• 1-40% by weight of the meaty mass of heat settable binder; and

• 0-60% by weight of the meaty mass of one or more other pet food components; b) heating the meaty mass to a temperature of at least 70°C to heat set the binder and shaping the heated mass into restructured meat pieces;

c) introducing the restructured meat pieces, optionally together with one or more other pet food ingredients, into a package, and sealing the package to produce a packaged wet pet food product;

d) sterilizing the packaged wet pet food product by heating the product in the package to a temperature of at least 80°C;

said process further comprising: (i) adding yeast extract before sterilization in a total amount of 0.1-3% by weight of the wet pet food product; and (ii) adding a Maillard component before sterilization in a total amount of 0.01 -5% by weight of the wet pet food product, said Maillard component being selected from the group consisting of a carbonyl source, a process flavour and combinations thereof, wherein the carbonyl source contains at least 10% by weight of dry matter of carbonyl compound capable of undergoing a Maillard reaction.

The process of claim 1, wherein the heat settable binder is selected from blood plasma, egg albumen, cellulose ethers, cereal protein, soy protein, starch and combinations thereof.

The process of claim 1 or 2, wherein the carbonyl compound is selected from

monosacharides, disaccharides, uronic acids and combinations thereof.

The process of claim 3 wherein the carbonyl compound is selected from xylose, glucose, sucrose, rhamnose, lactose, maltose and combinations thereof.

5. The process according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the carbonyl compound is added in a total amount of 0.02-2.5% by weight of the wet pet food product.

6. The process according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the Maillard reaction flavour contains one or more of:

- at least 20 μg/kg of substituted pyrazines selected from 2,3,5-trimethylpyrazine, 2- ethyl-3,5-dimethylpyrazine, 2,3-diethyl-5-methylpyrazine and combinations thereof;

- at least 10 mg/kg of substituted thiazoles selected from 2-acetylthiazole, 2- methylthiazole, 4-methylthiazole and combinations thereof;

- at least 5 mg/kg of Strecker aldehydes selected from methional, 2-methylbutanal, 3-methylbutanal and combinations thereof;

- at least 30 mg/kg of substituted furans and furanones selected from 4-hydroxy-2,5- dimethyl-3(2H)-furanone, 4-hydroxy-5-methyl-3(2H)-furanone, 3-Hydroxy-4,5- dimethylfuran-2(5H)-one and combinations thereof; and

- at least 10 μg/kg of 2-furfurylthiol.

7. The process according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein, prior to the sterilizing step, the packaged wet pet food contains 0.01-2 wt.% of an amino compound selected from proteinogenic amino acids, hydroxyproline, cystine, ornithine and combinations thereof.

8. The process of claim 7, further comprising adding a source of the amino compound in an amount sufficient to provide a total amount of at least 0.01% by weight of the pet food product, said source of the amino compound containing at least 5% of the amino compound by weight of dry matter.

9. The process of claim 8, wherein the compound is an amino acid selected from cysteine, cystine, methionine, proline, leucine, phenylalanine, glutamic acid and combinations thereof.

10. The process according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the restructured meat pieces are combined with sauce before the sealing of the package, and wherein the sauce contains at least 0.02 wt.% of the Maillard component, preferably at least 0.02 wt.% of the carbonyl compound.

1 1. The process according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the restructured meat pieces are combined with sauce before the sealing of the package, and wherein the sauce contains at least 0.02 wt.% of the amino compound.

12. The process according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein taurine is added to the wet pet food product in a concentration 0.1 -1 % by weight of the wet pet food product.

13. A sterilized wet pet food product obtained by a process according to any one of the

preceding claims.

14. A wet pet food product according to claim 13, said product containing one or more of the following Maillard flavour substances in the indicated concentrations:

• at least 2 μg/kg of substituted pyrazines selected from 2,3,5-trimethylpyrazine, 2- ethyl-3,5-dimethylpyrazine, 2,3-diethyl-5-methylpyrazine and combinations thereof;

• at least 1.7 mg/kg of substituted thiazoles selected from 2-acetylthiazole, 2- methylthiazole, 4-methylthiazole and combinations thereof;

• at least 0.45 mg/kg of Strecker aldehydes selected from methional, 2-methylbutanal, 3-methylbutanal and combinations thereof;

• at least 1.5 mg/kg of substituted furanones selected from 4-hydroxy-2,5-dimethyl- 3(2H)-furanone, 4-hydroxy-5-methyl-3(2H)-furanone, 3-Hydroxy-4,5-dimethylfuran- 2(5H)-one and combinations thereof.

• at least 0.6 μg/kg of 2-furfurylthiol.

15. Use of a wet pet food product according to claim 13 or 14 for feeding a companion

animal.

16. The wet pet food product of claim 14, wherein the yeast extract is an extract from two or more types of yeast selected from the group consisting of Saccharomyces, Pichia, Kluyveromyces, Hansenula, Candida.

17. The wet pet food product of claim 16, wherein the yeast extract is from Saccharomyces and at least one other yeast.

18. The wet pet food product of claim 1, wherein the yeast extract is an extract of

Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Description:
PROCESS OF PREPARING A STERILIZED WET PET FOOD PRODUCT

FIELD

[0001] A process of preparing a sterilized wet pet food product with improved palatability is provided. Methods of using the sterilized wet pet food product for feeding a companion animal such as a cat or a dog are also provided.

BACKGROUND

[0002] Pet food is commonly categorized on the basis of its moisture content:

(1) Dry or low moisture content products (typically less than 15%). These products typically combine high nutritional content with convenience;

(2) Wet or high moisture content products (greater than about 50%). These products are generally most palatable to pets;

(3) Semi-moist or semi-dry or soft dry or intermediate or medium moisture content products (generally between 15 and 50%).

[0003] Two main types of wet pet food products are distinguished. The first type is known as 'pate' or 'loaf and is typically prepared by processing a mixture of edible components under heat to produce a homogeneous semi-solid mass that is structured by heat-coagulated protein. This homogeneous mass is usually packaged into single serve or multi serve packaging which is then sealed and sterilized. Upon packing, the homogeneous mass assumes the shape of the container.

[0004] The second type of wet pet food product is known as 'chunk and gravy', 'chunk and jelly' or 'chunk and mousse', depending on the nature of the sauce component. These types of products are referred to herein as 'chunk and sauce' products. The chunks comprise meat pieces or restructured meat pieces. Restructured meat pieces are typically prepared by making a meat emulsion containing a heat-settable component, and by applying thermal energy to 'set' the emulsion and allowing it to assume the desired shape. The product pieces are combined with a sauce (e.g. gravy, jelly or mousse) in single serve or multi serve packaging which is then sealed and sterilized. As opposed to pate or loaf, when served, the chunk and l sauce product flows out of the packaging and can be easily mixed with other pet food products.

[0005] Many wet pet food products contain considerable amounts of meat and animal byproducts. Animal by-products are the entire bodies or parts of bodies of animals or products of animal origin not intended for human consumption, including ova, embryos and sperm. Animal by-products include among others carcasses and body parts of animals, viscera and products or foods of animal origin originally meant for human consumption but withdrawn for commercial reasons.

[0006] Reconstitution of low-grade meats, including animal by-products, into aesthetically pleasing restructured meat pieces (chunks) is a key feature of most wet pet food products. A widely used technology relies on the heat setting of meat proteins and the addition of heat- settable binders. Soluble meat proteins coagulate and create a strong matrix when heated above 80°C. For pet food production, however, it is difficult to find suitable meats at a realistic price. Hence, additives such as dried blood plasma and other heat setting binders are included to give sufficient chunk strength.

[0007] Palatability of wet pet food products containing restructured meat pieces is not optimal. Consequently, it has been suggested to improve the palatability of such pet food products by adding seasoning and/or flavouring.

[0008] US 4,070,490 describes a process for preparing a liver-like pet food which comprises:

• preparing an aqueous reaction mixture of emulsified fat, whole blood, and a reducing sugar; and

• heating the reaction mixture for a time and at a temperature effective to solidify the mixture and produce a textured, liver-like material.

The examples describe the preparation of live-like pet food from a mixture comprising tallow, water, dried blood, glucose and yeast extract.

[0009] US 2010/0330229 describes a method for preparing a palatability enhancer for use in pet foods of low, medium or high moisture content, comprising at least:

a) providing a first stage reaction product obtained by: (i) reacting with at least one protease, in the absence of any added lipase, a substrate comprising proteinaceous and fatty materials, (ii) heat-inactivating said protease and filtrating the resulting digest product,

b) optionally adding fat;

c) emulsifying said first stage reaction product;

d) reacting said emulsion with at least one lipase, in the absence of any added protease, so as to obtain a second stage reaction product;

e) adding at least one reducing sugar and at least one nitrogen compound to said second stage reaction product and heating the resulting mixture.

[0010] Teshima et al. (Yeast extract in dogs feeding: digestibility and palatability, 44 th Annual meeting of the Brazilian Zootechny Society, Unep-Jaboticabal 24-27 July 2006) describe the outcome of experiments in which 2% yeast extract (Nupro® 2000) was added to extruded dog food to replace com gluten. Dogs were found to prefer the yeast extract containing product over the reference product.

[0011] EP-A 0 241 097 describes a liquid food product on dairy basis for cats comprising 1.5- 3.5% by weight of lactose and 3.5-5.0% by weight of protein based on the total product, and fat. The examples of the European patent application describe liquid food products containing yeast extract.

[0012] WO 2014/098193 describes a pet food comprising:

• at least one kind of protein selected from the group consisting of animal proteins and vegetable proteins;

• at least one kind of fat or oil selected from the group consisting of animal fats and oils and vegetable fats and oils;

• defatted sesame; and

• at least one kind of palatability enhancing agent selected from the group consisting of meat extracts, fish extracts, internal organ extracts, yeast extracts, processed milk products and hydrolysates thereof.

SUMMARY [0013] The inventors have discovered that palatability of sterilized wet pet food products containing restructured meat pieces can be improved very significantly by incorporating therein a combination of yeast extract and Maillard component. The Maillard component employed can be a Maillard reaction flavour that contains high levels of Maillard flavour substances and/or a carbonyl compound that is capable of reacting with amino compounds under the formation of Maillard flavour substances.

[0014] Accordingly, a process of preparing a sterilized wet pet food product is provided, the process comprising:

a) preparing a meaty mass having a water content of at least 40 wt.% by mixing the following ingredients:

• 30-95% by weight of the meaty mass of ground animal material selected from meat, animal by-products and combinations thereof;

• 1-40% by weight of the meaty mass of heat settable binder; and

• 0-60% by weight of the meaty mass of one or more other pet food components; b) heating the meaty mass to a temperature of at least 70°C to heat set the binder and shaping the heated mass into restructured meat pieces;

c) introducing the restructured meat pieces, optionally together with one or more other pet food ingredients, into a package, and sealing the package to produce a packaged wet pet food product;

d) sterilizing the packaged pet food product by heating the product in the package to a temperature of at least 80°C;

said process further comprising: (i) adding yeast extract before sterilization in a total amount of 0.1 -3% by weight of the pet food product; and (ii) adding a Maillard component before sterilization in a total amount of 0.01-5% by weight of the pet food product, said Maillard component being selected from a carbonyl source, a Maillard reaction flavour and combinations thereof, wherein the carbonyl source contains at least 10% by weight of dry matter of carbonyl compound capable of undergoing a Maillard reaction.

[0015] A sterilized wet pet food product obtained by the aforementioned process and the use of such a wet pet food product for feeding a companion animal are also provided.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION [0016] A process of preparing a sterilized wet pet food product is provided, the process comprising:

a) preparing a meaty mass having a water content of at least 40 wt.% by mixing the

following ingredients:

• 30-95% by weight of the meaty mass of ground animal material selected from meat, animal by-products and combinations thereof;

• 1-40% by weight of the meaty mass of heat settable binder; and

• 0-60% by weight of the meaty mass of one or more other pet food components; b) heating the meaty mass to a temperature of at least 70°C to heat set the binder and shaping the heated mass into restructured meat pieces;

c) introducing the restructured meat pieces, optionally together with one or more other pet food ingredients, into a package, and sealing the package to produce a packaged wet pet food product;

d) sterilizing the packaged pet food product by heating the product in the package to a temperature of at least 80°C;

said process further comprising: (i) adding yeast extract before sterilization in a total amount of 0.1 -3% by weight of the pet food product; and (ii) adding a Maillard component before sterilization in a total amount of 0.01-5% by weight of the pet food product, said Maillard component being selected from the group consisting of a carbonyl source, a Maillard reaction flavour and combinations thereof, wherein the carbonyl source contains at least 10% by weight of dry matter of carbonyl compound capable of undergoing a Maillard reaction.

[0017] The term "pet" as used herein refers to a domestic animal, including domestic cats and dogs.

[0018] The term "pet food" as used herein refers to a food composition designed for ingestion by a pet. The wet pet food product typically is a nutritionally balanced food product to provide a pet with all the essential nutrients it needs in the right quantities.

[0019] The term "yeast extract" as used herein refers to a yeast product made by extracting the cell contents from yeast (removing the cell walls).

[0020] The term "sauce" as used herein refers to an aqueous composition in the form of a fluid, a paste, a gel or a mousse. [0021] The term "fat" as used herein refers to esters of fatty acids such as triglycerides, diglycerides, monoglycerides and phospholipids.

[0022] The term "animal protein" as used herein refers to proteins that originate from vertebrates, such as mammals, fowl and fish. Animal protein may originate, for example, from muscle meat, organs, tendons or bone. Proteins originating from milk or eggs are not considered animal proteins.

[0023] The term "flour" or "vegetable flour" as used herein refers to a particulate material that has been prepared by grinding or comminuting a vegetable material, such as cereal grains, beans, other seeds or roots.

[0024] The term "vegetable protein" as used herein refers to protein that originates from edible plants or edible plants parts. The term "vegetable protein" encompasses proteins from fruits, grains and nuts.

[0025] The term "legume" as used herein refers to a plant in the family Fabaceae (or Leguminosae), or the fruit or seed of such a plant. Well-known legumes include alfalfa, clover, peas, beans, lentils, lupins, mesquite, carob, soybeans, peanuts, and tamarind.

[0026] The wet pet food products and the components used therein are selected for consumption by a pet and are not intended for consumption by humans. The wet pet food product preferably is a wet pet food product for cats or dogs. Most preferably, the wet pet food product is a wet pet food product for cats.

[0027] The ground animal material that is used in the present process may suitably contain at least 50 wt.%, more preferably at least 70 wt.% and most preferably at least 85 wt.% of animal by-product. Animal by-products are the entire bodies or parts of bodies of animals or products of animal origin not intended for human consumption, including ova, embryos and sperm. Examples of animal by-products include:

• parts of slaughtered animals which are fit for human consumption but are not intended for human consumption for commercial reasons; • parts of slaughtered animals which are rejected as unfit for human consumption but are not affected by any sign of a communicable disease;

• hides and skins, hooves and horns, pig bristles and feathers originating from animals that are slaughtered in a slaughterhouse and were declared fit for human consumption;

• blood obtained from animals declared fit for human consumption;

• animal by-products derived from the production of products intended for human consumption, including degreased bones and greaves;

• former foodstuffs of animal origin which are no longer intended for human consumption for commercial reasons or due to problems of manufacturing or packaging defects;

• raw milk originating from animals that do not show any signs of a communicable disease;

• fish or other sea animals, except sea mammals, caught in the open sea for the purpose of fishmeal production, and fresh by-products from fish from plants manufacturing fish products for human consumption;

• shells of eggs originating from animals that do not show any signs of a communicable disease;

• blood, hides and skins, hooves, feathers, wool, horns, hair and fur originating from healthy animals.

[0028] The heat settable binder employed in the present process is preferably selected from blood plasma, egg albumen, cellulose ethers, cereal protein, soy protein, starch and combinations thereof. Wheat protein, especially gluten, is an example of a cereal protein that may suitably be used as a heat settable binder. Starch and cereal protein may be added as such or, for instance, in the form of cereal flour.

[0029] The yeast extract that is employed in the wet pet food product may be obtained from different types of yeast, such as Saccharomyces, Pichia, Kluyveromyces, Hansenula, Candida. The yeast extract preferably is obtained from a Saccharomyces yeast. Even more preferably, the yeast extract comprises, consists essentially of, or consists of yeast extract obtained from Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The yeast extract may comprise, consist of, or consist essentially of, extract from two types of yeast selected from the group consisting of Saccharomyces, Pichia, Kluyveromyces, Hansenula, Candida. Or, the yeast extract may comprise, consist essentially of, or consist of, extract from three types of yeast selected from the group consisting of Saccharomyces, Pichia, Kluyveromyces, Hansenula, Candida. Or, the yeast extract may comprise, consist essentially of, or consist of extract from four types of yeast selected from the group consisting of Saccharomyces, Pichia, Kluyveromyces, Hansenula, Candida. Or, the yeast extract may comprise, consist essentially of, or consist of extract from all five of Saccharomyces, Pichia, Kluyveromyces, Hansenula, Candida.

[0030] In accordance with another preferred embodiment the yeast extract is obtained from yeast that was produced in a brewing process.

[0031] The yeast extract employed in the present process typically contains at least 10%, more preferably at least 12% nucleotides by weight of dry matter.

[0032] In the present process, yeast extract is preferably added in a concentration of at least 0.2 %, or at least 0.4 wt.%, or at least 0.6 wt.%, or at least 0.8 wt.%, or at least 1.0 wt.%, or at least 1.2 wt.%, based upon the weight of the wet pet food product. Yeast extract may be added in a concentration of up to about 3.0 wt.%, or up to about 2.8 wt.%, or up to about 2.6 wt.%, or up to about 2.4 wt.%, based upon the weight of the wet pet food product. In some embodiments, the yeast extract may be included in the wet pet food product in amounts of from 0.2 wt.% to 3.0 wt.%, or from 0.4-2.8 wt.%, or from 0.6 to 2.6 wt.%, or from 0.8 to 2.4 wt.% or from 1.0 wt.%-2.4 wt.% by weight of the wet pet food product.

[0033] The yeast extract and the Maillard component are typically added to the wet food product in a weight ratio in the range of 1 :2 to 40: 1. More preferably, the weight ratio of yeast extract to Maillard component is in the range of 1 : 1.6 to 15: 1, most preferably in the range of 1 : 1.5 to 10: 1.

[0034] Other ingredients that may suitably be incorporated in the wet pet food product, in either the restructured meat pieces, the sauce or both, include fat, antioxidants, carbohydrates, seasoning, colourants, flavouring, minerals, preservatives, vitamins, emulsifiers, farinaceous materials and combinations thereof. [0035] The meaty mass obtained in the mixing step typically has a water content of at least 45 wt.%. More preferably, the water content of said meaty mass in the range of 48-80 wt.%, most preferably in the range of 50-75 wt.%.

[0036] The present process preferably comprises the addition of taurine. Taurine is an organic acid that is widely distributed in animal tissues and that has many fundamental biological roles. Taurine is an essential dietary requirement for cats and dogs, since they cannot synthesize the compound. Taurine supplementation is a requirement of both the European Pet Food Industry Federation (FEDIAF) and the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). The amount of taurine added in the present process preferably is in the range of 0.05% to 1.0% by weight of the wet pet food product, most preferably in the range of 0.1% to 0.5% by weight of the wet pet food product.

[0037] Expressed differently, it is preferred that the present pet food product contains 400- 2000 mg taurine per 1000 kcal, more preferably 425-1200 mg taurine per 1000 kcal.

[0038] The wet pet food product preferably contains added nutrients selected from the group of vitamin Bl (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and combinations thereof. Typically, vitamin Bl is contained in the product in a concentration of 0.1-3.0 mg per 1000 kcal. Vitamin B2 is typically present in a concentration of 0.2-4.0 mg, more preferably of 0.8-2.0 mg per 1000 kcal. Vitamin B6 content is typically in the range of 0.1-2.0 mg per 1000 kcal, more preferably in the range of 0.5-0.9 mg per 1000 kcal.

[0039] In accordance with an advantageous embodiment of the present process, the Maillard component that is added is a carbonyl compound. Addition of the carbonyl compound in the present process results in the formation of Maillard flavour substances during the sterilization step as the heating conditions employed during sterilization favour the reaction of the carbonyl compound with amino acids and peptides present in the ground meat and other pet food components (e.g. added amino acids and/or peptides). In other words, the carbonyl compound can be added as a Maillard flavour precursor.

[0040] Any carbonyl compound that is capable of undergoing a Maillard reaction by reacting with an amino compound (such as an amino acid) may be used in the present process to form the wet pet food product. In some embodiments, the carbonyl compound is selected from the group consisting of monosacharides, disaccharides, uronic acids and combinations thereof. In such embodiments, the carbonyl compound may even more particularly be selected from the group consisting of pentoses, hexoses, 6-deoxyhexoses, disaccharides, uronic acids and combinations thereof. In yet other embodiments, the carbonyl compound is selected from glucose, sucrose, glucosamine, acetyl glucosamine, galactose, lactose, mannose, maltose, ribose, xylose, lyxose, rhamnose, fucose, cellobiose, arabinose, galacturonic acid and combinations thereof. Most preferably, the carbonyl compound is selected from xylose, glucose, sucrose, rhamnose, lactose, maltose and combinations thereof.

[0041] In the present process the carbonyl compound is typically added in a total amount of 0.02-3% by weight of the wet pet food product. More preferably, the carbonyl compound is added in a total amount of 0.1 -2.5%, most preferably 0.5-2.3% by weight of the wet pet food product.

[0042] The wet pet food product may contain other pet food components that contain endogenous amounts of one or more carbonyl compounds. Typically, the total amount of carbonyl compound in the packaged wet pet food product prior to the sterilizing step is in the range of 0.04-6 wt.%, more preferably of 0.1-3 wt.% and most preferably of 0.5-2.5 wt.%.

[0043] According to a particularly preferred embodiment, the present process comprises the addition of the carbonyl compound in concentrated form. Accordingly, the carbonyl compound is preferably added in the form of a concentrate containing at least 20 wt.% of the carbonyl compound. Even more preferably, said concentrate contains at least 50 wt.% and most preferably at least 80 wt.% of the carbonyl compound. Embodiments in which the concentrate containing the carbonyl compound is preblended with other components of the wet pet food product are also contemplated.

[0044] Instead or besides adding a carbonyl compound as Maillard flavour precursor, the addition of a Maillard component may suitably comprise the addition of a Maillard reaction flavour, i.e. a flavouring material that contains high levels of Maillard flavour substances and that has been prepared by heating a concentrated reaction mixture containing carbonyl compounds (e.g. reducing sugars) and amino compounds (e.g. amino acids or peptides). [0045] According to a preferred embodiment, the Maillard reaction flavour employed in the present process comprises, consists essentially of, or consist of, one or more of the following Maillard flavour substances in the indicated concentrations:

• at least 20 μg/kg, preferably at least 100 μg/kg of substituted pyrazines selected from 2,3,5-trimethylpyrazine, 2-ethyl-3,5-dimethylpyrazine, 2,3-diethyl-5-methylpyrazine and combinations thereof;

• at least 10 mg/kg, preferably at least 50 mg/kg of substituted thiazoles selected from 2-acetylthiazole, 2-methylthiazole, 4-methylthiazole and combinations thereof;

• at least 5 mg/kg, preferably at least 25 mg/kg of Strecker aldehydes selected from methional, 2-methylbutanal, 3-methylbutanal and combinations thereof;

• at least 30 mg/kg, preferably at least 150 mg/kg of substituted furans and furanones selected from 4-hydroxy-2,5-dimethyl-3(2H)-furanone, 4-hydroxy-5-methyl-3(2H)- furanone, 3-Hydroxy-4,5-dimethylfuran-2(5H)-one and combinations thereof; and

• at least 10 μg/kg, preferably at least 50 μg/kg of 2-furfurylthiol.

[0046] According to another embodiment, the Maillard reaction flavour contains at least two, more preferably at least three of the aforementioned Maillard flavour substances in the indicated concentrations.

[0047] In the present process the Maillard reaction flavour is preferably added in a total amount of 0.01-5% by weight of the pet food product. Even more preferably, the Maillard reaction flavour is added in a total amount of 0.05-2.5%, most preferably of 0.1-1.5% by weight of the pet food product.

[0048] As explained herein before, carbonyl compounds added in the present process as well as carbonyl compounds endogenously present in pet food components can react with amino compounds during the sterilization step under the formation of Maillard flavour substances. Typically, amino compound selected from proteinogenic amino acids, hydroxy proline, cysteine, ornithine and combinations thereof is present in the wet pet food product before sterilization in a concentration of 0.01-3 wt.%, said amino compound being. More preferably, before sterilization said amino compound is present in the wet pet food product in a concentration of 0.1-2 wt.%, most preferably of 0.5-1.5 wt.%. [0049] The present process comprises adding a source of the amino compound in an amount sufficient to provide a total amount of at least 0.01% by weight of the pet food product, said source of the amino compound containing at least 5% of the amino compound by weight of dry matter.

[0050] The amino compound employed in the present process may be an amino acid selected from cysteine, methionine, proline, arginine, valine, leucine, isoleucine, phenylalanine, lysine, glycine, glutamic acid, threonine and combinations thereof. In some embodiments, the amino compound is an amino acid selected from cysteine, glycine, methionine, proline, leucine, phenylalanine, glutamic acid and combinations thereof.

[0051] The one or more restructured meat pieces that are prepared in the present process may be solid or semi-solid, and in some embodiments may preferably be semi-solid. The restructured meat pieces typically have a density of 0.8-1.2 g/ml, or of 0.85-1.15 g/ml, or of 0.9-1.1 g/ml.

[0052] The restructured meat pieces produced in the present process typically have a fat content of less than 15 wt.%. More preferably, said restructured meat pieces have a fat content in the range of 2 to 12 wt.%, most preferably of 4 to 10 wt.%.

[0053] The fat that is contained in the restructured meat pieces preferably contains at least 50 wt.%, more preferably at least 70 wt.% of triglycerides. The fat may suitably contain animal fat, vegetable oil, marine oil and combinations thereof. According to one embodiment, the fat contains at least 10 wt.%, or at least 30 wt.% or even at least 50 wt.% of an animal fat. The animal fat preferably originates from an animal selected from cattle, pigs, sheep, goat, poultry, fish and combinations thereof.

[0054] The protein content of the restructured meat pieces produced in the present process may desirably be in the range of 5-50 wt.%, or from 10-45 wt.% or from 20-42 wt.%.

[0055] The protein in the restructured meat pieces may contain at least 5 wt.% of animal protein by weight of the total amount of protein that is contained in the restructured meat pieces. In some embodiments, animal protein constitutes 8-50 wt.%, or 10-30 wt.% of the total amount of protein that is present in the restructured meat pieces. [0056] The animal protein is preferably selected from muscle meat protein, organ protein and combinations thereof. The animal protein preferably originates from vertebrates selected from mammals, fowl, fish and combinations thereof; most preferably selected from cattle, pigs, sheep, goat, rabbit, poultry, fish and combinations thereof.

[0057] The restructured meat pieces prepared in the present process may suitably be shaped in the form of a loaf (or pate) product and be packaged as a single piece in a container, such as a can, a pouch or a tray, followed by sterilization. Typically, these shaped pieces have a piece volume of 20-2,000 cm 3 , more preferably of 40-1 ,500 cm 3 , most preferably of 50-1,000 cm 3 .

[0058] Typically, the sterilized packaged wet pet food product so obtained contains 90-100 wt.% of the one or more restructured meat pieces, more preferably at least 95 wt.%, most preferably at least 98 wt.% of the one or more meat pieces.

[0059] In an alternative embodiment of the present process the restructured meat pieces are combined with sauce before the sealing of the package to prepare a chunks -and-gravy or a chunks -and-jelly or a chunk-and-mousse type of product. The restructured meat pieces may be combined with the sauce before introduction into the package. Alternatively, these two components may be introduced in the package successively. Preferably, 30-90 wt.% of the restructured meat pieces are combined with 10-70 wt.% of the sauce to produce the wet pet food product. Together, the restructured meat pieces and the sauce typically constitute at least 80 wt.%, more preferably at least 90 wt.% of the wet pet food product.

[0060] The sauce that is optionally introduced into the wet pet food product typically contains at least 80 wt.% water. More preferably, the water content of the sauce is in the range of 90- 98 wt.%, most preferably in the range of 93-97 wt.%.

[0061] The sauce employed in the present process preferably is an aqueous fluid, a jelly, a paste or a mousse. Gelling biopolymers that may suitably be employed to prepare gelled sauce include carrageenan, xanthan, guar gum, cassia gum, starch, gelatine and combinations thereof. [0062] The wet pet food product of the present invention may solely consist of restructure meat pieces. In such embodiments, the yeast extract will be a component of the restructured meat pieces. In other embodiments, the wet pet food product comprises restructured meat pieces in combination with sauce, and in such embodiments, the yeast extract may be a component of the restructured meat pieces and/or the sauce. Preferably, yeast extract is added to the sauce before it is combined with the restructured meat pieces. Typically, the bulk of the components present in the yeast extract will end up in both the restructured meat pieces and the sauce independent of whether the yeast extract was initially incorporated in the restructured meat pieces or the sauce.

[0063] In a particularly preferred embodiment, the Maillard component is introduced into the wet pet food products as part of the sauce component. Accordingly, it is preferred that the restructured meat pieces are combined with sauce before the sealing of the package and that the sauce contains at least 0.02 wt.%, more preferably 0.1 -5 wt.% and most preferably 0.2-4 wt.% of the Maillard component. The sauce advantageously contains at least 0.02 wt.%, more preferably 0.04-5 wt.% and most preferably 1-4 wt.% of the carbonyl compound.

[0064] In accordance with another preferred embodiment, the restructured meat pieces are combined with sauce before the sealing of the package and the sauce contains at least 0.05 wt.%, more preferably 0.1-4 wt.% and most preferably 0.5-3 wt.% of the amino compound. According to a particularly advantageous embodiment the sauce contains at least 1.5 wt.% of the carbonyl compound and at least 0.8 wt.% of the amino compound.

[0065] In one embodiment of the present process the restructured meat pieces are produced by a low temperature heat-setting process comprising:

• emulsifying the meaty mass to form a meaty emulsion;

• forming a layer of the meaty emulsion;

• heating the layer of meaty emulsion to a temperature of 70-105°C to set the heat- settable binder; and

• cutting or shredding the heat-set layer into discrete restructured meat pieces.

[0066] In this embodiment of the present process the meaty mass is preferably prepared by mixing the following ingredients: • 50-90% by weight of the meaty mass of ground animal material selected from meat, animal by-products and combinations thereof;

• 1-15% by weight of the meaty mass of heat settable binder; and

• 0-40% by weight of the meaty mass of one or more other pet food components.

[0067] The heat settable binder that is employed in the low temperature heat setting process is preferably selected from blood plasma, egg albumin, cellulose ether and combinations thereof. Even more preferably, the heat settable binder used in the low temperature heat setting process is blood plasma, most preferably dried blood plasma.

[0068] The restructured meat pieces that are produced by the low temperature heat-setting process may suitably contain vegetable flour. The inventors have found that the palatability enhancing effect of the combined use of yeast extract and Maillard component is particularly pronounced in case the restructured meat pieces contain a significant amount of vegetable flour. Accordingly, in some embodiments, the restructured meat pieces contain 2-20 wt.% flour, more preferably 3-13 wt.% vegetable flour, most preferably 4-10 wt.% vegetable flour.

[0069] In such embodiments, the wet pet food product preferably contains yeast extract and vegetable flour in a yeast extract: vegetable flour weight ratio in the range of at least 1 :20, or from 1 : 15, or from 1 : 10, or from 1 :5, or from 1 : 1. In some embodiments, the weight ratio of yeast extract to vegetable flour is from 1 :20 to 1 : 12, or from 1 :20 to 1 : 13 or from 1 :20 to 1 : 14 or from 1 :20 to 1 : 15. In other embodiments, the weight ratio of yeast extract to vegetable flour may be in the range of 1 :7 to 1 : 1 , or from 1 : 6 to 1 : 1, or from 1 :5 to 1 : 1.

[0070] The combined amount of protein and starch that is contained in the vegetable flour that is employed typically is at least 60 wt.%, more preferably at least 65 wt.% and most preferably at least 70 wt.%.

[0071] The vegetable flour employed in the meaty mass preferably contains at least 50 wt.% starch, more preferably at least 60 wt.% starch, most preferably at least 65 wt.% starch.

[0072] The vegetable flour is preferably obtained from cereal, legume or both. Wheat flour is an example of a cereal flour that can be used. Examples of legume flours include soy flour and pea flour. [0073] Vegetable flour is preferably used in the preparation of the meaty mass in such an amount that vegetable protein (including vegetable protein from other sources) constitutes at least 10% by weight of the total amount of protein that is contained in the meaty mass. More preferably, vegetable protein constitutes 12-50 wt.%, most preferably 15-35 wt.% of all the protein that is contained in the meaty mass.

[0074] Due to the heat treatment that is used in the preparation of the restructured meat pieces to set the heat settable binder, the starch contained in the restructured meat pieces is at least partially gelatinized before the sterilization step. Accordingly, in a preferred embodiment, the restructured meat pieces contain gelatinized starch before said sterilization.

[0075] In another embodiment of the present process the restructured meat pieces are produced by a high temperature heat-setting process, said process comprising:

• preparing the meaty mass by mixing the following ingredients:

o 30-80% by weight of the meaty mass of ground animal material selected from meat, animal by-products and combinations thereof;

o 15-40% by weight of the meaty mass of heat settable vegetable protein (= heat settable binder) selected from cereal protein, soy protein and combinations thereof; and

o 0-40% by weight of the meaty mass of one or more other pet food components;

• heating the meaty mass to a temperature of at least 110°C for 0.1-5 minutes to coagulate the non-animal protein; and

• shaping the heated mass into restructured meat pieces.

[0076] Examples of heat settable vegetable proteins that may be employed in the high temperature heat-setting process include proteins obtained from wheat, corn, pea, soya, rice or from a combination of these vegetables. Most preferably, the heat settable vegetable protein is selected from gluten, soy protein and combinations thereof.

[0077] In the high temperature heat-setting process the meaty mass is preferably prepared by combining the ground animal material with 18-35 wt.% of heat-settable vegetable protein. The total protein content of the meaty mass preferably lies in the range of 15-50 wt.%, more preferably of 20-42 wt.% and most preferably of 25-38 wt.%. [0078] The inventors have found that the palatability enhancing effect of the combined use of yeast extract and Maillard component is particularly pronounced in case the restructured meat pieces contain a relatively high amount of vegetable protein, including heat settable vegetable protein. Accordingly, in a preferred embodiment, the restructured meat pieces obtained in the high temperature heat-setting process contain, calculated by weight of the total amount of protein contained in the restructured meat pieces, at least 50 wt.%, more preferably 60-95 wt.% and most preferably 70-90 wt.% vegetable protein.

[0079] The heat settable vegetable protein is suitably introduced into the meaty mass in the form of a vegetable protein concentrate. Here the term "vegetable protein concentrate" refers to a material that is extracted or prepared from vegetable matter and that is enriched in protein relative to the original vegetable matter. The term "vegetable protein concentrate" encompasses vegetable protein isolates, such a soy protein isolate and gluten. Typically, the vegetable protein concentrate has a protein content of at least 30 wt.%, more preferably of at least 50 wt.% and most preferably of at least 70 wt.%.

[0080] The shaping of the heated mass into restructured meat pieces may suitably be achieved by expelling the heated mass through a die and cutting or otherwise breaking up the expelled mass, optionally after said mass has been allowed to cool down. Shaping of the heated mass may also be achieved by introducing the heated mass into a container, e.g. a can, and allowing the heated mass to cool down within said container.

[0081] By heating the meaty mass to a temperature of at least 110°C the heat settable vegetable protein in the mass can be coagulated to form a firm structure in less than 5 minutes. Typically, the pressures employed at these heating temperatures exceed 5 bar. More preferably, the pressure employed is in the range of 6-90 bar. The combination of high temperature and high pressures provide fiber definition to the product.

[0082] In the high temperature heat-setting process the meaty mass is preferably rapidly heated to elevated temperatures through rapid mechanical heating and/or steam injection. According to a particularly preferred embodiment, the meaty mass is heated to a temperature of at least 120°C and most preferably of 130-240°C. While the period of time required for the protein mass to set sufficiently to form a firm product depends on a number of factors, such as the temperature to which the emulsion is heated and the amount and type of protein in the emulsion, a residence time of 0.5-4 minutes at a temperature of at least 130°C is generally sufficient. Preferably, said residence time is in the range of 1-3 minutes.

[0083] After the heated mass has been shaped into pieces of restructured meat pieces, the size of these pieces may be reduced further by e.g. shredding or milling. Especially in case the process is used to prepare a wet pet food product that contains restructured meat pieces as well as sauce, it is preferred to employ an additional size reduction step in which the size of the restructured meat pieces is reduced by at least a factor 2, more preferably by at least a factor 4.

[0084] The packaged pet food product is preferably sterilized by heating the product in the package for at least 5 minutes to a temperature of at least 90°C. Even more preferably, the packaged product is sterilized by means of retort sterilization. Typically, a retorting temperature of 105°C to 150°C, especially 115°C to 140°Cyields a satisfactory result. Heating times at these retorting temperatures typically are in the range of 10-120 minutes, most preferably 15-60 minutes.

[0085] A sterilized wet pet food product obtained by a process as described herein is also provided.

[0086] The sterilized wet pet food product comprises, consists essentially of, or consists of one or more Maillard flavour substances at concentration levels that affect the flavour profile and thereby the palatability of the product. Accordingly, in a preferred embodiment, the wet pet food product comprises, consists essentially of, or consists of one or more of the following Maillard flavour substances in the indicated concentrations:

• at least 2 μg/kg of substituted pyrazines selected from 2,3,5-trimethylpyrazine, 2- ethyl-3,5-dimethylpyrazine, 2,3-diethyl-5-methylpyrazine and combinations thereof;

• at least 1.7 mg/kg of substituted thiazoles selected from 2-acetylthiazole, 2- methylthiazole, 4-methylthiazole and combinations thereof;

• at least 0.45 mg/kg of Strecker aldehydes selected from methional, 2-methylbutanal, 3-methylbutanal and combinations thereof; • at least 1.5 mg/kg of substituted furanones selected from 4-hydroxy-2,5-dimethyl- 3(2H)-furanone, 4-hydroxy-5-methyl-3(2H)-furanone, 3-Hydroxy-4,5-dimethylfuran- 2(5H)-one and combinations thereof.

• at least 0.6 μg/kg of 2-furfurylthiol.

[0087] According to one embodiment, the wet pet food product comprises, consists essentially of, or consists of, at least two or more, even more preferably three or more of the aforementioned Maillard flavour substances in the indicated concentrations.

[0088] The process of making the wet pet food product may suitably be conducted without any step which is not specifically disclosed herein. Similarly, the wet pet food product described herein may suitably be prepared without any ingredient or component which is not specifically disclosed herein.

[0089] Use of the aforementioned wet pet food product for feeding a companion animal, such as a cat or a dog is also contemplated. In some advantageous uses, the wet pet food product is used to feed cats.

[0090] Some embodiments will now be described in detail in the following non-limiting examples.

Example 1

[0091] Restructured meat pieces for a wet cat food product were prepared on the basis of the recipe shown in Table 1

[0092] Table 1

protein content 75 wt.% [0093] The nutritional composition of the restructured meat pieces prepared on the basis of this recipe is depicted in Table 2.

[0094] Table 2

[0095] The restructured meat pieces were prepared by grinding the frozen animal byproducts. After grinding, the mix of meat particles was conveyed to a mixing tank in which the meat was mixed until uniform, and was heated to facilitate pumping of the meat mix. The uniform mix of ground meat particles was then comminuted under conditions which emulsify the meat material and form a meat emulsion in which the protein and water of the meat mixture form a matrix that encapsulates the fat globules.

[0096] The temperature of the meat mixture during emulsification was maintained below 50°C in order to minimize protein denaturation. The wheat protein, calcium carbonate and minerals were added to the meat mix after emulsification of the meat.

[0097] The viscous meat emulsion so obtained had a temperature of about 35°C, and was heated in a twin-screw extruder to about 136°C.

[0098] The hot meat emulsion, was transferred with a positive displacement pump to a holding tube. The product was pumped at a pressure in excess of 7 bar into the processing zone. The emulsion was retained in the holding tube at a pressure above the vapor pressure of the emulsion until the protein in the meat emulsion had coagulated sufficiently to set the emulsion and form a firm emulsion product, which retained its shape and structure when discharged from the holding tube.

[0099] The set meat emulsion discharged from the confined processing zone had a temperature of 98-100 °C and was cut suing a rotary cut-off knife that was mounted at the discharge end of the holding tube. Upon discharge from the processing zone, the chunks of restructured meat were rapidly cooled by evaporating cooling to a temperature in the range of about 88°C and were allowed to cool down to ambient temperature.

[0100] Next, the chunks of restructured meat were combined with two different jellies having the composition described in Table 3.

[0101] Table 3

[0102] The jelly used in the production of Product 1 contained a Maillard flavour precursor mixture of two carbonyl compounds (glucose and xylose) and two amino compounds (cysteine and glycine).

[0103] The composition of the vitamin/nutrient mixture, by weight of the final product, is shown in Table 4.

[0104] Table 4

[0105] The chunks of restructured meat and the jellies were introduced into pouches in a weight ratio of 35:65 and retort sterilised to a F 0 value in the range of 40 to 60.

[0106] When the sterilized product was carefully separated into a restructured meat component and sauce component, it was found that the restructured meat component constituted about 60 wt.% of the sterilized product and the jelly about 40 wt.% of the sterilized product. [0107] The sterilized wet pet food product prepared with the Maillard flavour precursor mixture (Product 1) was subjected to a flavour analysis (stable isotope dilution analysis using GC-MS) to determine the concentrations of a number of known Maillard flavour substances. The results of this analysis is shown in Table 5.

[0108] Table 5

Example 2

[0109] A feeding trial was conducted with the two wet cat food products (Product 1 and Control 1) of Example 1. In these feeding trials called "two-bowl test" or " versus test" the two products were presented simultaneously to a group of cats. Identical amounts of product were served in each of the two bowls. In the feeding trials the cats were twice exposed to the two products. The position of the two bowls was switched in the second exposure to avoid any bias. The quantity eaten was measured after a single meal exposure. Statistical analyses (Analysis of variance) were made on the data to determine the statistical significance of the observed differences. The outcome of the feeding trial is summarized in Table 6.

[0110] Table 6

Example 3

[0111] Restructured meat pieces for a wet cat food product were prepared on the basis of the recipe shown in Table 7.

[0112] Table 7 Water 3.86

Blood plasma powder 3.00

Minerals & vitamins 2.26

[0113] The nutritional composition of the restructured meat pieces prepared on the basis of this recipe is depicted in Table 8.

[0114] Table 8

[0115] The restructured meat pieces were prepared as follows. Blocks of frozen meat and meat by-products were tempered overnight before being ground. The grounded meat was mixed with the dry and liquid ingredients in the proportions outlined in Table 7. Next, the mixture was emulsified in a bowl chopper. The resulting fine emulsion was transferred to a form press to produce an emulsion sheet that was passed through a steam tunnel with a residence time of two minutes. Temperature of the raw emulsion was raised to about 82°C at the steam tunnel discharge. The cooked, firm sheet so obtained was cut into slices. The dimensions of these slices were approximately 10 mm x 7 mm x 6 mm.

[0116] Next, the restructured meat pieces were combined with two different gravies having the composition described in Table 9.

[0117] Table 9

[0118] The gravy used in the production of Product 2 contained a Maillard flavour precursor mixture of two carbonyl compounds (glucose and rhamnose) and two amino compounds (cysteine and glycine).

[0119] The chunks of restructured meat and the gravies were introduced into pouches in a weight ratio of 45:55 and retort sterilised to a F 0 value in the range of 40 to 60.

[0120] The sterilized wet pet food product prepared with the Maillard flavour precursor mixture (Product 2) was subjected to a flavour analysis (stable isotope dilution analysis using GC-MS) to determine the concentrations of a number of known Maillard flavour substances. The results of this analysis is shown in Table 10.

[0121] Table 10

Example 4

[0122] A feeding trial was conducted with the two wet cat food products (Product 2 and Control 2) of Example 3. In these feeding trials called "two-bowl test" or "versus test" the two products were presented simultaneously to a group of cats. Identical amounts of product were served in each of the two bowls. In the feeding trials the cats were twice exposed to the two products. The position of the two bowls was switched in the second exposure to avoid any bias. The quantity eaten was measured after a single meal exposure. Statistical analyses (Analysis of variance) were made on the data to determine the statistical significance of the observed differences. The outcome of the feeding trial is summarized in Table 1 1.

[0123] Table 11

Example 5 [0124] Two wet cat food products (Control 3 and Product 3) were prepared consisting of restructured meat pieces and a sauce component using the process described in Example 3.

[0125] The restructured meat pieces were prepared on the basis of the recipe shown in Table 10.

[0126] Table 10

[0127] These restructured meat pieces were combined with two different gravies having the composition described in Table 11. The restructured meat pieces and the gravies were introduced into pouches in a weight ratio of 50:50 and retort sterilised to a F 0 value in the range of 40 to 60.

[0128] Table 11

[0129] A feeding trial was conducted with the two wet cat food products. In these feeding trials called "two-bowl test" or "versus test" the two products were presented simultaneously to a group of cats. Identical amounts of product were served in each of the two bowls. In the feeding trials the cats were twice exposed to the two products. The position of the two bowls was switched in the second exposure to avoid any bias. The quantity eaten was measured after a single meal exposure. Statistical analyses (Analysis of variance) were made on the data to determine the statistical significance of the observed differences. The outcome of the feeding trial is summarized in Table 12. [0130] Table 12

Variable Control 3 Product 3 p-value

Weight eaten (g) 16.8 24.4 <0.1