The recipe for safer food

by Donna Berry
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Bioprotection cultures were first used with traditional starter cultures in fermented sausages but are now used to add an extra layer of safety and microbial quality to products including cooked poultry slips.
 

Bioprotection cultures

Chr. Hansen, Denmark, offers bioprotection cultures for pathogen control in meat and poultry. Bioprotection is a natural way to inhibit spoilage and protect against harmful contamination in food. It refers to the use of safe bacteria, mainly lactic acid bacteria, selected from the natural microflora of food.

“Bioprotection cultures undergo a rigorous screening process,” says Véronique Zuliani, senior business development manager, meat and ready-to-eat food cultures at Chr. Hansen. “This includes ensuring there is no antibiotic resistance, and no production of toxin or biogenic amine, among other strict selection criteria. The cultures are specifically selected to protect meat and poultry by inhibiting unwanted contaminants, preventing food spoilage and providing an opportunity for manufacturers to extend shelf life.”

Bacteria have long been used to protect food, from salami to cheese. The good bacteria reduce the acidity of the food, which inhibits bad bacteria from growing.

In the meat and poultry industry, bioprotection cultures were first used with traditional starter cultures in fermented sausages. Today, they are used to add an extra layer of safety and microbial quality to other products, including bacon, cooked ham, cooked poultry strips and fresh sausages.

“Added in a large amount at the beginning of the process, the inoculated lactic acid bacteria will naturally dominate the endogenous microflora of the food due to microbial competition, which is what we call the Jameson effect,” Zuliani says. “The lactic acid bacteria also produce metabolites with antibacterial properties and cell-to-cell signaling, so-called quorum sensing, occurs. Thus, they inhibit the growth and most of the metabolic activities from the uncontrolled spontaneous flora.

“The bioprotection cultures do not negatively impact sensory properties of the meat products,” Zuliani says. “In fact, we have found that some protective cultures can even give a cleaner taste or keep a fresh taste longer.”

These bioprotection cultures are allowed as ingredients in or on processed products labeled as organic or made with organic ingredients, in accordance with the National Organic Program.

“Consumers are pushing for healthier options in meat,” Zuliani concludes. “They’re looking for less processed, lower sodium and chemical-free options with a longer shelf life.”

They also expect their food to be safe. Meat and poultry processors have a toolbox of ingredients to assist with preventing foodborne disease outbreaks.


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