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Ask the experts: Additives in beef

Q: “I love roast beef but I am horrified by the additives listed on the ingredients labels, eg. tapioca, and the meat is often marinated and does not taste like roast beef. Instead of expensive fillet, what recipe do you suggest I use and would a pot roast be more tender? I would like to freeze leftover cold meat slices for lunches.”


A:  Nutritionist and chef Bronwen King responds:

“I too was surprised by the additives in supermarket roast beef.  A spokesperson from Hellers (a supplier of roast beef to supermarkets) said the additives listed on the label are from a marinade which is used to improve flavour. The beef I purchased contained monosodium glutamate (additive number 621), a substance some people have a negative reaction to. Unlike corned beef however, I was told there are no nitrites present; nitrites are substances which have been linked to increased cancer risk.

To roast your own, less expensive cuts such as topside, bolar and chuck produce tender meat if cooked slowly at a low temperature (160oC) and in an oven bag or pan with a lid to prevent it drying out. A meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat will tell you when it is done. An internal temperature of 60oC = rare meat, 70oC = medium meat, 80oC = well done meat. Allow to cool fully before slicing. Sliced meat freezes well; for easy use, place pieces of wax or greaseproof paper between slices, and freeze in small manageable lots. Freezer bags work well for this purpose.”


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