Foodborne disease outbreaks continue to be a senior concern in the food production world. While seeded vegetables were the top food category associated with outbreak illnesses in 2015, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control, pork was second, followed closely by chicken.
But there are preventative measures available that allow producers to focus on both food safety and the growing trend of clean labels.
Corbion offers numerous products to control Listeria in ready-to-eat (RTE) meat products. The ingredient systems use combinations of lactate and acetate, or their clean label counterparts, ferments and vinegars.
“Our clean label ferments are made from sugars that are naturally fermented using specific food cultures to produce a range of different actives, such as organic acids, small peptides, residual sugars and other fermentation products,” says Tom Rourke, Ph.D., director of business development at Corbion. “These ferments provide additional functionality such as yield enhancement, texture improvement and savory flavor in addition to combating pathogens and extending shelf life.”
Corbion recently introduced organic vinegar products that utilize unique clean label buffers and provide meat and poultry processors with non-GMO and organic labeling options. There’s also a new line of natural powder products labeled as cultured sugar and vinegar.
“They are low in sodium and provide pathogen and shelf life protection as well as a specific product used for mold inhibition,” Rourke says.
The company now has a clean label antimicrobial that rivals potassium sorbate for mold inhibition, even in applications most vulnerable to mold, such as high-moisture meat snacks. The ingredient also provides pathogen protection.
“Being able to tackle the mold spoilage challenge without alienating consumers looking for a clean ingredient label just hasn’t been possible before now," Rourke says. "We believe this product can really impact sales for our customers."
Kemin Food Technologies offers a liquid, propionic acid-based antimicrobial designed to protect RTE meat and poultry products from Listeria. It has been proven to extend product shelf life more consistently in comparison to traditional lactate-based products. Kemin was the first to commercialize such a product within the protein industry and was vital to getting propionic acid approved for use by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“Since it is applied at a lower application rate, it contributes less sodium and lower cost-in-use than lactates and diacetates,” says Courtney Schwartz, senior marketing communications manager for Kemin. “We also offer a label-friendly vinegar-based product for food safety designed to protect meat and poultry products from foodborne pathogens and extend product shelf life by delaying the growth of spoilage bacteria.”
Kemin’s buffered vinegar solutions have no negative effect on meat quality, including parameters such as water-holding capacity, protein denaturation, color or flavor. This line is available in both liquid, dry and no-sodium forms, making it easy to add to brines, marinades, spice blends or direct application to meat. It is also available in a certified organic form.
“We have validated a 5-log reduction in Salmonella with our proprietary spice and herb extractives,” says Poulson Joseph, principal scientist at Kalsec. “The extracts provide multiple functionalities, including flavoring and antioxidant attributes. This offers an extra layer of comfort to meat processors to keep the total microbial load under control and minimize any potential contamination.”
For fresh ground meats and fresh poultry, Kalsec offers a unique combination of vinegar and rosemary. Inclusion may improve quality, thus extending shelf life, while also assisting with safety.
“Benefits include color and oxidative stability as well as a 2- to 3-log reduction in spoilage (psychrothropic as well as total plate counts) microbes,” Joseph says. “This ingredient combination has very low or no flavor impact and does not compromise texture.”
The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service issued on Oct. 5, 2017, an updated directive detailing the ingredients that may be used in the production of meat and poultry products. The new directive states that a natural source of nitrite can be used in combination with a natural source of ascorbate in “naturally cured” meats as an antimicrobial intervention.
Typically, the two are not available as a blend because of potential interaction. They are added separately, with or without other food safety ingredients.
“In this regard, Kalsec offers unique combinations of acerola (cherry powder), a natural source of ascorbate, and rosemary extract,” Joseph says. “This ingredient system offers multiple functionalities, including cure acceleration, antioxidants and food protection, when used with a natural source of nitrite.”
Wenda Ingredients offers all-natural, clean label pathogen protection ingredients made from fruit and spice extracts. The product line includes a true “uncured” ingredient solution free of celery powder and chemical nitrites.
“By eliminating concentrated nitrites for pathogen protection, we are delivering on the promise of truthfulness and transparency for consumers that are buying uncured labeled meats,” says Chad Boeckman, director of marketing and national accounts for Wenda. “Our products are different in that we are using several hurdles for pathogen control, including polyphenol and flavonoid antioxidants as well as common pathogen protection ingredients for the carrier of these natural solutions, such as dried vinegar.”
The typical usage level is 0.6 percent to 1 percent. They are non-GMO and non-hygroscopic, making them ideal for seasoning blends used in marinades or dry rubs; however, direct application on all meat and poultry products is also an option.
Arjuna Natural Extracts Ltd., with a new US sales office in Dallas, is introducing a line of natural preservatives based on proprietary formulations of essential oils and oleoresins. The company’s ingredient scientists combine herbal extracts used in traditional medicine with methods of fermentation for bacteriocins, in concert with advanced technologies, such as microencapsulation and emulsification.
“Research has shown that combining select natural antimicrobials can have a synergistic effect, making them more effective than single components,” says Benny Antony, joint managing director for Arjuna. “Our new all-natural ingredient systems provide effective antimicrobial activity and shelf life extension without affecting flavor or mouthfeel.”