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Survival and Growth of Clostridium perfringens in Commercial No-Nitrate-or-Nitrite-Added (Natural and Organic) Frankfurters, Hams, and Bacon

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The popularity of “preservative-free” foods among consumers has stimulated rapid growth of processed meats manufactured without sodium nitrite. The objective of this study was to quantify the potential for Clostridium perfringens growth in commercially available processed meats manufactured without the direct addition of nitrite or nitrate. Commercial brands of naturally cured, no-nitrate-or-nitrite-added frankfurters (10 samples), hams (7 samples), and bacon (9 samples) were obtained from retail stores and challenged with a three-strain inoculation (5 log CFU/g) of C. perfringens. Reduced inhibition (P < 0.05) was observed in seven brands of frankfurters, six brands of hams, and four brands of bacon when compared with each respective sodium nitrite–added control. In naturally cured and truly uncured commercial frankfurters, growth over time was approximately 4.7 log, while conventionally cured frankfurters exhibited growth at 1.7 log. Naturally cured ham and bacon products exhibited growth at 4.8 and 3.4 log, respectively, while their conventionally cured counterparts exhibited growth at 2.6 and 2.3 log, respectively. These products also demonstrated variation in growth response. The results indicate that commercially available natural/organic naturally cured meats have more potential for growth of this pathogen than do conventionally cured products. Natural and organic processed meats may require additional protective measures in order to consistently provide the level of safety from bacterial pathogens achieved by conventionally cured meat products, and which is expected by consumers.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Animal Science, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011, USA 2: Department of Animal Science, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011, USA.

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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