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Use of Octanoic Acid as a Postlethality Treatment To Reduce Listeria monocytogenes on Ready-to-Eat Meat and Poultry Products

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The antilisterial efficacy and organoleptic impact of an octanoic acid (OA)–based treatment for ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and poultry products were investigated. Whole-muscle and comminuted RTE products were inoculated with a five-strain mixture of Listeria monocytogenes. The OA treatments were applied to the surface of RTE products by dispensing a specific volume of solution directly into the final package prior to vacuum sealing. Once sealed, the vacuum-packaged RTE products containing OA were immersed in water heated to 93.3°C (200°F) for 2 s to effect adequate film shrinkage. Extending the time at which the packaged, treated RTE products were exposed to water heated to 93.3°C was also evaluated with a commercial cascading shrink tunnel fitted with a modified drip pan. Once treated, RTE products were examined for survivor populations of L. monocytogenes after 24 h of storage at 5°C. Sensory evaluation was conducted with a 60-member trained panel on 11 uninoculated, treated RTE products. The OA treatment of RTE products reduced L. monocytogenes numbers to between 0.85 log CFU per sample (oil-browned turkey) and 2.89 log CFU per sample (cured ham) when compared with controls. The antilisterial activity of OA was improved by increasing the duration of the heat shrink exposure. Specifically, reductions of L. monocytogenes ranged from 1.46 log CFU per sample (oil-browned turkey) to 3.34 log CFU per sample (cured ham). Results from the sensory evaluation demonstrated that 10 of the 11 treated RTE products were not perceived as different (P ≤ 0.05) from the untreated controls. Panelists detected reduced (P ≤ 0.05) smoke flavor intensity with treated mesquite turkey, although the treated product was viewed as acceptable. Results demonstrate the effectiveness of OA as a postlethality treatment meeting U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service regulatory guidelines for RTE meat and poultry products with minimal impact on sensory quality.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Ecolab Research Center, 655 Lone Oak Drive, Eagan, Minnesota 55121, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2007

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