Organic acids, plant extracts and irradiation to beat food-borne
bugs – study
of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/Organic-acids-plant-extracts-and-irradiation-to-beat-food-borne-bugs-study
By Rory Harrington, 28-May-2009
chicken breast meat with a mixture of organic acids and plant extracts
can greatly reduce the presence of pathogenic bacteria, according to
new research from the US-based Food Safety Consortium.
The group, from the University of Arkansas
System’s Division of Agriculture, said its work demonstrates that
infusing combinations of organic
acids, such as acetic, citric, lactic, malic and tartaric, into chicken
meat curtails the presence of the potentially deadly E. coli O157:H7,
Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella Typhimurium bacterium.
Researchers found malic, citric and tartaric
acid were particularly successful against S. Typhimurium and E. coli
O157:H7. – but less effective against L. monocytogenes.
Irradiation – consumer education key
The consortium said results were significantly
boosted when the chicken was subject to irradiation. However, the
technique, which involves exposing food to ionizing radiation to
destroy micro-organisms, bacteria
and viruses, has attracted controversey with many consumers uncertain
over potential health problems connected to eating irradiated products.
A 2008 survey conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
found that 90 percent of people believed meat containing irradiated
componants should be labelled as such.
In a statement, the research group
acknowledged that irradiation
“has not yet been applied widely in the United States as many
companies have worried about potential resistance among consumers”.
Navam Hettiarachchy, a food safety professor
in charge of the project, said the research team had examined the
effects of irradiation on the chicken’s colour and texture and found no
significant change. He suggested that labels on irradiated products
could have a brief explanation of irradiation to educate consumers.
“I am hopeful that with time the public will
become aware of irradiation processing so that they accept irradiation
in processing poultry and meat products for safety against pathogens,” Hettiarachchy said.
He added: “A new education component is
very important and may be the key for acceptance for irradiated food
products by the consumer.”
The research is ongoing but one poultry
company has already shown an interest in the project’s findings, said
Plant extract findings
Experiments were also carried out using
extracts from grape seed and green tea in combination with the acids.
Previous research by team found that extracts of both substances
reduced L. monocytogenes to undetectable levels when applied in
combination with the food preservative nisin.
The researchers said they were also using the
plant extracts to serve as antioxidants, which minimizes lipid
oxidation. Lipid oxidation is a process that causes meat quality to
deteriorate by adversely affecting characteristics such as flavor,
color and texture.
Hettiarachchy said: “We want to determine
the least amount of plant extracts that we can use and the least amount
of irradiation dosage to get the best inhibitory effect.”