Uncertain times call for extra safety measures to reassure consumers that everything will be alright. While the US meat and poultry processing industry produces some of the safest food in the world, there is a need to offer extra protection against microbial contamination.

While certain foodborne pathogens may be present on raw foods, proper cooking and handling typically eliminates the threat of foodborne illness. But the possibility for contamination after cooking can still exist. This is a major concern with ready-to-eat (RTE) meat products that do not undergo an additional lethal cooking step prior to consumption. They are particularly vulnerable to Listeria monocytogenes, which is omnipresent in the environment.

Processed RTE meats that are pre-sliced, ground or diced, are the most susceptible to contamination. Lower-salt items, products with more water activity and those with higher pH are also vulnerable. The more a product comes in contact with any surface, whether hand, tool or machinery, the more opportunities there are for harmful bacteria to be introduced.

Because pathogens do not typically change the taste or smell of the food, they go undetected. This makes it imperative that manufacturers of these products take all possible precautions to ensure food safety. Kemin Industries, Des Moines, Iowa, offers a liquid-based antimicrobial that is designed to protect RTE meat products from Listeria.

“As today’s industry continues to grow and progress forward, microbial challenges are becoming more apparent,” said Courtney Schwartz, marketing director, Kemin Food Technologies-Americas. “Keeping your products safe is a top priority. Kemin’s propionic acid-based antimicrobial solution is a defender against microbial spoilage in RTE meats and an ideal solution for manufacturers.”

Traditionally, both sodium lactate and sodium diacetate have been the industry’s food safety choice. However, these ingredients are used at a higher application rate, which in turn increases cost-in-use and may negatively impact the sensory attributes of the final product. The propionic acid-based antimicrobial solution helps extend product shelf life at a lower application rate, which may reduce added sodium levels.