Those who eat meat want their meat to be tender and juicy. This is why “seasoned” or “flavour enhanced” pork was created, to ensure a tender and juicy cut even if the cut becomes slightly overcooked. In this sense, you can think of seasoned pork as a kind of insurance for your meat. Since many pork cuts are very low in fat, they can tend to become dry and tough if they have been overcooked even slightly. Seasoned pork allows for a more tender and juicy product even if overcooked or held warm for long periods of time. The addition of water, sodium phosphate and salt to meat or poultry allows the product to retain moisture throughout cooking. The sodium phosphate binds the water molecules to the protein in the meat, and the salt acts as an enabler in the process. Seasoned meats and poultry are not flavoured or spiced as the name implies, so do not have a noticeably different taste than unseasoned products.
Pork labelled “seasoned” is pork that has been placed in a brining solution (typically water, sodium phosphate, and salt) in order to create a product that retains moisture. Other meats and poultry, such as beef and chicken, can also be “seasoned”. Not all pork sold at retail is seasoned, however pork that is seasoned must be labelled as such. Many cooks and at home chef also may choose to buy fresh meat and then make their own brine solution depending on the recipe they are using. Seasoned pork that you purchase from the store must be labelled with a list of ingredients and a declaration of percent meat protein. Pork that has not been seasoned (i.e. what we refer to as fresh pork) usually does not have an ingredient list or a Nutrition Facts table.
A Nutrition Facts table is required on all meat and poultry with added phosphates and/or water. The amount of sodium for a seasoned product will be higher than for an unseasoned product. For example, an average seasoned centre-cut pork loin chop (100 g/3 oz) has about 300 mg of sodium (this will vary according to cut and manufacturer). The amount of sodium recommended for healthy Canadians aged 9-50 is 1500 mg per day, and 1300mg per day for Canadians aged 51-70. People on sodium-restricted diets should follow their doctor’s advice, and carefully read labels in all cases.