Ingredient options abound
Nitrates and nitrites contribute flavor and color, while also preventing growth of the pathogen Clostridium botulinum. Clean label alternatives to pure nitrates and nitrites are ingredients that are inherently concentrated sources of the functionally active compounds. Celery and spinach both contain nitrates. Celery juice, as a liquid or dried into a powder, specifically, has been shown to be effective in controlling bacterial growth.
Fruit and spice extract blends also control pathogenic and spoilage microbial growth while contributing the desirable cured color and flavor to uncured labeled cooked meats. Such blends allow for no-to-low residual nitrates or nitrites in the finished product. Some natural plant extract blends come combined with citrus fiber, which is a clean label alternative to sodium phosphate, another common ingredient in ready-to-eat meats.
Phosphates historically have been used to assist with retaining the tenderness of products after thermal processing. Clean label options include various hydrocolloids, such as fibers, gums, proteins and starches. The ingredients may provide firmness and succulence with purge reduction. They may assist with forming and shaping, all while improving yield.
Another option is dried plums, which have been shown to effectively bind moisture in animal proteins. They also contribute sensory improvements that achieve true protein flavor, juiciness, texture and eating quality.
Innovation on display
During the Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting and Food Expo, to be held June 25-28 in Las Vegas, several suppliers will be exhibiting ingredient innovations designed to give processed meat a cleaner label. Corbion, Lenexa, Kansas, for example will be exhibiting its Verdad Opti Powder N70 for uncured meats. The ingredient is an antimicrobial designed to deliver Listeria control and shelf life in powder format, according to the company. It offers 35 percent less sodium and has the attributes of clean, natural labeling options. At the exposition, the company also will be introducing its updated Listeria Control Model that is designed to help all processed food manufacturers predict Listeria growth while improving speed to market.
Naturex, South Hackensack, New Jersey, will be exhibiting its Cleanatis range of antimicrobials for processed meat formulations. Available in two varieties, M1 and M2, the ingredients have proven to be effective against Listeria and Salmonella, according to the company. In tests, the M1 variety was shown to inhibit Listeria in ground meat applications. The M2 variety was shown to be effective against Salmonella. The company added that both varieties had no effect on color or taste.
“Many consumers are no longer willing to accept products that contain ingredients that sound like they are from a chemistry set,” said Catherine Bayard, category manager of food preservation for Naturex. “Increasingly, this trend is taking hold in the meat industry, which has previously presented a huge challenge.
This past December, Kemin Industries, Des Moines, Iowa, introduced its Bactocease NV OR liquid, which is a buffered vinegar solution for meat and poultry applications. The ingredient is certified organic and has been shown to be effective in extending the shelf life and controlling such pathogens as Listeria in fresh and ready-to-eat meat and poultry products, according to the company.