Food prep, nutrition and the secret of omelettes

A golden omelette

Something I really hate is that even though we get taught nutrition, is that it is difficult to put it into practice when at vet school. So often it is easier to just grab stuff from the vending machine or sandwiches or crisps when running between patients.

It is ironical to me that I know this yet still suffer from this and so this week I decided that it was enough when I saw my weight on the scales… This week I tried to do food prep and eat better especially as I knew I’d have a few days off later in the week because of easter.

Loads of Tupperware which was on special offer in Tesco made this easier for me – a weeks’ worth of salads and lunches made my week more enjoyable… And I feel better.

Something I’ve always been bad at is omelettes, however it is good protein and relatively healthy for breakfast so I was determined to get them right this time. Especially as it only takes 10 minutes to cook them.

This week however I finally think I cracked the secret – I am generally impatient and have electric plates to cook on so never let these really get warm. I normally just tried to do it as quick as possible. However I think this was the start of my problems….

So my first tip in getting the perfect omelette is to warm up the plate – if you are lucky enough to have a gas hob this is not necessary.

My second tip is to use more oil than you would think you used – I hate cooking with oil and normally just tried to use butter. However I have some olive oil so tried this instead – the first couple of times it stuck – however on my later attempts I used a lot more oil and it worked better.

And my final tip is to let the oil get hot before adding the batter.

Following these steps has resulted in going from charcoal to golden omelettes like mine in this picture….

Slaughter….

My second time at a slaughter house here in Slovakia, I stood and watched pigs go from animals to meat for human consumption.

Last time I was here 2 weeks ago it was with cattle; generally beef here in Slovakia is not a major food item so there were only 5 cattle slaughtered that day. However today the pigs kept coming with me losing track of how many were slaughtered as I watched.

The slaughter house here is smaller than those that I have visited in the UK so a lot of the process here is manual. However slaughter is regulated under EU legislation and the animal welfare of an animal during slaughter is tightly controlled. Something I like here is that the slaughter process here is covered by CCTV, this is something that is not everywhere and so I am impressed.

As animals are slaughtered in front of us we are discussing the effectiveness of electrical stunning, too little and the animal could suffer, yet too much and the meat quality is affected. With pigs the alternative to electrical stunning is carbon dioxide however for such a small establishment here it is not feasible – even in some slaughter houses I visited in the UK it did not exist.

The pig in front of me is stunned unconscious, yet as the body is bled of it’s blood there are death spasms. These can occur for a long time after an animal is dead, even after the removal of the head there can still be spasms.

Vets have the responsibility of ensuring that any meat entering the food chain is safe for humans to eat, however there is also the responsibility of ensuring the minimum of suffering to animals. I eat meat, I like the taste, and I believe that it is essential to a healthy diet. Yet I know where it comes from, I know that it comes from animals, and I accept as a vet student that will qualify as a vet I have a role to play.

To improve and push for high standards of animal welfare – whilst I realise that vets have a role, it is the normal person that can drive change. Not only in your own health by eating a higher quality of meat yet also through the animals health by ensuring better conditions through paying just a little bit more…

Here is a chart showing you just what the labels in the supermarket really mean (you can click it for a bigger version!)

Read more about animal product labelling

How is rabbit food made?

Inside a rabbit pet food factory

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Pet Webinars

A while back I happened to be at BSAVA at the same time as the Technical Manager for Supreme Petfoods, knowing very little about pet food manufacturing at this point in time I decided to ask as many questions as I could. Now I am going to try and explain the process (at least at Supreme Petfoods) to you!

Starting at the beginning of the process we have to consider the type of formulation process used. There are generally two types here:

  • Fixed formulation – Now fixed formulation is simply that, it means that every single time the food is made with the same ingredients. Take for example cranberry’s, if the formula says that 1kg of cranberrys should be used then 1kg of cranberrys is used. It doesn’t matter about the market price of the ingredient, if the cranberrys cost £1 or £10 they are still used in the same amount.
  • Dynamic (nutrient based) formulation – Now dynamic formulation is all about the end nutritional value of the food. This means that it just so long as the end nutritional values are correct whatever ingredients it takes to get there are used. Generally this could mean the cheapest possible ingredients are used, there is actually computer software that will calculate the recipe based on the cheapest prices at that point in time.

Now Supreme Petfoods use fixed formulation, this means that every time you buy a new packet of food it is exactly the same as the last time you brought that food. The upside to this is your rabbits not looking at you crazy for giving them a different food.

All these ingredients are then processed (whether it be by grinding or cutting) before they are all mixed together. This is then passed into something called an extruder, its basically a big machine that will squeeze the food out through a die for the correct shape and cut it into the correct sizes… Kinda like one of the old play dough machines but on an industrial scale.

This will then pass into a drying tower which will remove the moisture from the food using heat and time, before it then passes into a cooling tower to allow it to return to room temperature before then heading to a packing line where it is sealed in bags ready for distribution.