Ingredient Issues
Certain plant-based extracts, such as rosemary, green tea and acerola cherry powder can assist with color stabilization.
DuPont offers a blend of green tea extract and acerola powder that the company recommends for ground beef because of its synergistic combination of phenolic compounds and ascorbic acid. It has been shown to extend shelf life by up to five days versus an untreated control in high-oxygen modified atmosphere packaging.

“Acerola powder is an effective label-friendly option to delay color loss in both fresh and ready-to-eat meat and poultry products,” King agrees. “Kemin produces the powder from a specific type of cherry that can provide multiple benefits in cooked meats when used in conjunction with a source of nitrite. Acerola extract is naturally rich in ascorbic acid, which has been widely used in its pure form as a cure accelerator in cured meat formulations. It effectively accelerates and improves the rate of cured color development, and also helps prevent oxidation and color fading during shelf life.”

Ascorbic acid has similar chemical properties and functionality as GRAS additives such as sodium ascorbate and sodium erythorbate, which are broadly used in cured meats made with sodium nitrite. However, consumer desire for less chemical-sounding ingredients often results in the replacement of sodium nitrite with an alternative source of nitrite such as celery powder.

“In some instances, acerola extract is then added along with the alternative nitrite source as a way to replace activity of synthetic cure accelerators,” King says. “The addition of a natural source of ascorbic acid, like acerola extract or cherry powder, can result in both quality and safety improvements.”

Kalsec recently developed an oxidation management system consisting of buffered vinegar and rosemary extract to help fresh ground meat products achieve further shelf-life extension during distribution.

“This optimized system lowers spoilage counts, while maintaining color in fresh meats, all without compromising texture and flavor in fresh ground meats and sausages,” Joseph says.

Through a partnership with Prosur Ingredients of Spain, Wenda Ingredients, Naperville, Illinois, offers a proprietary blend of fruit and spice extracts that functions as an antioxidant while also contributing desirable cured color and flavor to true-uncured cooked meats, such as deli-style hams, bacon and pepperoni. The system allows for cured color with the lowest possible amount of residual nitrates or nitrites in the industry.

“It’s a blend of Mediterranean fruit and spice extracts, which consists of citrus and rosemary extracts for fresh meat,” says Xingchu Li, global director, technical services and innovation at Wenda Ingredients. “The extracts are rich in antioxidants, including polyphenols, flavonoids and vitamin C.”

Rourke says, “With the demand toward cleaner labels, we offer ingredient solutions that range from a blend of vinegars and natural flavor to ferment blends of vinegar and cultured corn sugar or cultured sugar. These ingredients optimize meat pH, and in doing so, stabilize the color.”

Some options in Corbion’s clean-label ingredients portfolio provide additional functional benefits such as flavor stability and Listeria control. These ingredients enable processors to have no additional sodium contribution or lower sodium content while still retaining the benefits that sodium offers.

In general, these ingredients are very process friendly. With ground meats, they can be added directly into the meat mixture. With whole muscle products, the ingredients are dissolved in a marinade that gets injected, soaked, sprayed or tumbled into the meat.

Color is an important visual cue for meat and poultry shoppers. Ingredients are available to stabilize color, with a number providing additional functional or nutritional benefits.