Vinegar is appearing frequently as a natural preservative in processed meat and poultry items. Buffered vinegar may solve taste issues, and antimicrobial blends are featuring vinegar.

“It’s picked up more steam in recent years as consumers have been looking for natural or clean-label alternatives,” said Brittany Bailey, associate product manager of antimicrobials, Kemin’s food technology division, in Des Moines, Iowa.


Typical household vinegar has a pH of 2 or 3. Buffering vinegar to a pH of  6 or 6.5 will allow it to keep a neutral taste profile, Bailey said.

Vinegar may be combined with a spice blend in meat products, such as sausage or seasoned hamburger.

Vinegar appeared in three systems in a study that appeared in the August 2013 edition of the Journal of Food Protection. The study’s data suggest antimicrobial ingredients from a natural source may enhance the safety of ready-to-eat meat and poultry products, but their efficacy is improved in products containing nitrite and with lower moisture and pH.

The study involved researchers from the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison and Foremost Farms, Lancaster, Wis. They stored products at 4ºC (39ºF) and tested the products weekly for four weeks.

The researchers found a 1.5 percent vinegar-lemon-cherry powder blend, 2.5 percent buffered vinegar and a 3 percent cultured sugar-vinegar blend all proved effective when incorporated into alternative-cured ham and uncured roast beef and deli-style turkey breast. In both the ham and the turkey, the addition of either the vinegar-lemon-cherry powder blend or buffered vinegar delayed Listeria monocytogenes growth for an additional two weeks when compared with the control. The addition of a cultured sugar-vinegar blend delayed growth for an additional four weeks. In roast beef containing any of the three systems, no growth was detected through 12 weeks at 4ºC for all the treatments.

Taking part in the study was Kathleen Glass, senior scientist at the Food Research Institute at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison. She gave a presentation at the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition in New Orleans. The presentation focused on how commercially available cultured sugars and plant extracts may contain active ingredients similar to conventional antimicrobials and thus may be used in ready-to-eat meats and other refrigerated foods.

Corbion Purac has developed antimicrobial blends featuring vinegar.

At the IFT exposition, Corbion Purac showcased its Verdad portfolio, which relies on vinegar in blends. This year the company launched Verdad N16, which may be labeled as cultured corn sugar and vinegar. It is a natural ferment derived from food cultures.

“This truly unique blend, including organic acids, sugars and peptides, offers antimicrobial properties as well as benefits for taste, texture and yield,” according to Simone Bouman, director of business development, meat and culinary for Corbion Purac. “This product is ideal for use in ready-to-eat and fresh meat and poultry products and is specifically designed to offer food safety by controlling growth of Listeria in cured meats up to 120 days while also providing a label-friendly alternative to the well-known lactate/diacetate containing preservatives.”

A potassium-based ingredient, Verdad N16 has no sodium, she said.

Verdad ingredients may be used in meat to replace such ingredients as benzoate propionate and diacetate.

“When used in meat applications, these label-friendly ingredients can be labeled as cultured corn sugar/dextrose, vinegar or combinations of those,” Bouman says.

Jeff Gelski is an associate editor with Food Business News, a sister publication of Meat&Poultry.