Meat doughs, all having the same chemical composition, were pasteurised to a comparable heat intensity (calculated as Cook values: target level of 5 min at 100°C): (i) while flowing through a glass tube (inner diameter 50 mm) mounted in a special radio-frequency (27 MHz) heating section; (ii) after flowing unheated through the glass tube at the same rate and heated in a waterbath; and (iii) after sampling immediately after the pump and heated in a waterbath. The cooked products were sampled in the core and at the rim of the product for rheological (oscillation and uniaxial compression tests at small strain), fracture measurements (uniaxial compression tests at high strain) and microstructural evaluation (light microscopy and video image analysis). Additional core samples were used for a sensory evaluation (triangle tests) of the texture of the differently processed doughs. The fast heating rate (25-30 K/min) at a mass flow of the dough of 100 kg/h (mean velocity 0.014 m/s) during dielectrical pasteurisation affected the mechanical character, the microstructure and the triangle test results of core samples from the sausages, compared to heating in a waterbath. Flow of the unheated dough through the tube of the continuous processing equipment, followed by heating in a waterbath, had little effect on the results of the mechanical tests, the microscopical evaluation and the triangle tests. The radio-frequency heated products had both higher storage and loss moduli (were more firm), fractured at higher stress values and were considered more firm in the sensory evaluation. The microstructure of dielectrically heated versus other samples displayed a more open structure of the protein matrix with larger irregularly shaped fat particles that were surrounded by relatively thin and compact protein bridges. The effects of flow and heating method on the behaviour of rim samples were very similar to their effects on the core of the products. A comparison of the mechanical behaviour of core and rim samples only was significant for radio-frequency heated doughs. The rim samples had lower storage and loss moduli and fractured at lower stress values than the core samples. Micrographs of the dielectrically heated rim versus core samples displayed more orientation of connective tissue particles in the direction of flow and of elongated, larger and irregularly shaped fat particles. Probably, shear at the wall of the tube affected the characteristics of the rim samples. All heated doughs displayed hardly and cooking losses. The radio-frequency heated products always displayed a thin layer of moisture on their surface and occasionally a little fat separation. © 1994.
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