DOI: 10.3390/foods13030464 ISSN: 2304-8158

Alternative Additives for Organic and Natural Ready-to-Eat Meats to Control Spoilage and Maintain Shelf Life: Current Perspectives in the United States

Aaron R. Bodie, Lindsey A. Wythe, Dana K. Dittoe, Michael J. Rothrock, Corliss A. O’Bryan, Steven C. Ricke
  • Plant Science
  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Health (social science)
  • Microbiology
  • Food Science

Food additives are employed in the food industry to enhance the color, smell, and taste of foods, increase nutritional value, boost processing efficiency, and extend shelf life. Consumers are beginning to prioritize food ingredients that they perceive as supporting a healthy lifestyle, emphasizing ingredients they deem acceptable as alternative or “clean-label” ingredients. Ready-to-eat (RTE) meat products can be contaminated with pathogens and spoilage microorganisms after the cooking step, contributing to food spoilage losses and increasing the risk to consumers for foodborne illnesses. More recently, consumers have advocated for no artificial additives or preservatives, which has led to a search for antimicrobials that meet these demands but do not lessen the safety or quality of RTE meats. Lactates and diacetates are used almost universally to extend the shelf life of RTE meats by reducing spoilage organisms and preventing the outgrowth of the foodborne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. These antimicrobials applied to RTE meats tend to be broad-spectrum in their activities, thus affecting overall microbial ecology. It is to the food processing industry’s advantage to target spoilage organisms and pathogens specifically.

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