(l) Foods prepared from meat are sold under the name of meat teas, meat extracts, meat juices, peptones and peptonoids, and dried meat powders. Some are supposed to have marvellous nutritive value because of the evaporation of a watery extract of the meat, or of the juice expressed from meat, into a fluid which is stated to contain the nutritive elements of the original muscle fibre in a concentrated form. Others base their claims on the predigestion of the protein before concentration. It is not invariably true that these preparations are made from meat. The absence of creatinin, in some specimens, suggests that these particular ones are purely artificial products.
Analyses of various meats show that the average percentage of protein is about 20 and that it is, therefore, impossible to concentrate meat down to less than a fifth of its bulk, if the total nutritive value of the protein is to be retained. Reference to the tables of analyses of these nitrogenous foods shows that in few instances does the percentage of protein equal that of the original meat from which the food is made, while in many it is very considerably less, even if undiluted. In those cases in which the percentage of protein is high, the food is usually given diluted with a large quantity of water.
The high percentage of extractives in many of these preparations proves that they are fluid extracts of meat. These extractives are of no nutritive value, throw an extra strain on the liver and kidneys, and are probably actively injurious. The high proportion of salts and extractives leads to thirst and diarrhoea, if these foods are given in large quantities.
A. In the ordinary process of making beef tea and clear soups the product is strained and the protein, coagulated by heat, which forms the nutritious sediment, deprived of its stimulating taste, is usually thrown away. A weak gelatinous fluid is left which is converted into a firm jelly on cooling, if the gelatin amounts to one per cent. Beef tea is often made in institutions from some one or other of the various meat extracts, instead of from fresh meat, so it is worth while to consider the nutritive value and the expense of these different preparations.
Mason's - strong beef tea .
Bovril Co. - Vril, albuminous beef tea...............
Brand's - fibrous beef tea .
According to the Lancet analysis Mason's beef tea contains meat fibre 3.74 per cent, soluble albuminoids and extractives 10.58, mineral salts 2.37.
A comparison of the above preparations with beef tea, as ordinarily made, is distinctly to their advantage. Home made beef tea contains about 1.5 per cent of protein and, if made by the boiling process, may contain considerably less. An analysis of a sample of that made at St. Thomas's Hospital yielded the following results (The Hospital, June 11, 1904) : -
Water . . . . ..... 96030
Insoluble protein and meat fibre . . . . 0.208
Soluble proteins and gelatin . . . . . 1.342
Meat bases ........ 0.608
Non-nitrogenous extractive matters .... 0.843
Mineral matters ....... 0.770
The total dry solids amounted to 3.97 per cent and of that 1.55 per cent only, inclusive of gelatin, was of value as food.
The price of beef tea made from various foods is given in the following table (The Hospital, June 1, 1907): -
Name of Food.
Cost per Pint.
5s. 6d. per lb.
1 lb. for 60 pints
Id. and a fraction
1 oz. „ 3 „
l 1b. „ 22 „
Nursing Oxo2 .
l 1b. „ 22 „
Invalid Bovril .
3 oz. „ 4 „
Mason's beef tea
3 1/2 d.
Brand's beef tea
31b. „ 7 „
Foreign meat .
2d. - 3d. ,,
l 1/2 - 2d.
These results are based on institutional prices. The price per pint is not an absolute criterion of the value, unless we regard these preparations as of such little use for nutritive purposes that the actual percentages of protein can be neglected. Probably this is true, for the amount of protein which can be taken in this form is really remarkably small.
These foods may be restorative and stimulant, but they are certainly only feebly nutritive and are an expensive form of diet. Probably the use of beef tea and meat extracts depends on the fact that in digestive disorders and in fevers, in which digestion is impaired, the appetite is bad, and the tongue furred, the patient dislikes food, but can take a hot, clean, non-cloying fluid which by virtue of the heat has some stimulating properties. Put plainly, the patient is better without food, and really derives benefit from the comparative starvation and not from the constituents of the extract which he is induced to swallow. These preparations have a great influence on the minds of the patient and friends, who are apt to dread abstinence from food as a source of extreme danger and have an abounding faith in the nutritive value of beef teas, jellies and meat extracts. As a food milk is infinitely superior. There is one advantage in these foods which must not be overlooked. They encourage appetite and the secretion of gastric juice. A few tablespoonfuls of clear soup or of a diluted meat extract, taken at the beginning of dinner or just beforehand, will improve both appetite and digestion. A large amount may be harmful by unduly diluting the gastric juice. They may be regarded as concentrated flavouring substances of meat the nutritive matters being extracted. Liebig's Extract was the first and remains the most typical of these meat extracts. As originally made it is practically free from protein and fat. It is a concentrated watery extract of meat, heated under pressure, filtered and evaporated.
1 Liebig's Extract of Meat as prepared by the Australian Meat Co.
Proteins . and Gelatin
Sub- Mineral stances Ash.
References and Remarks.
Food and Sanitation,l893
Bovril Fluid Beef1
Allen's commercial analysis
Bouillon Fleet .
Brand's Beef Bouillon 1
Candy, vide Hutchison, 1904. The juice of beef, mutton, veal or chicken, without any addition
Medical Press, 1899. A mutton extract
Chittenden. Fat and protein free.
Food and Sanitation,1896 (Hehner)
Oxine Extract1 .
Oxo1 . . .
Meat extract, albumin and fibrin, without fat
Viking Beef Essence
1 Analysis given by the manufacturers.
2 Ether extract.
3 Half gelatin.
4 Including extractives.