Finding safer organic and natural meat preservatives

Jeff Sindelar, UW-Extension Meat Specialist
Meat Science and Muscle Biology Lab
Department of Animal Science
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

(608) 262-0555

Jeff Sindelar discusses how to ensure food safety in natural and organic processed meats.

3:04 – Total Time

0:15 – Quest for organic and natural meats safety
0:45 – Substitute antimicrobial
1:04 – Examples of natural antimicrobial
1:22 – Ham, bacon sausage…
1:37 – Challenges to use of natural ingredients
2:19 – Research results
2:55 – Lead out


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Sevie Kenyon:
Jeff, how are you going about getting safer organic and natural meats?

Jeff Sindelar: One of the greatest challenges with addressing food safety in natural and organic processed meat products is the fact that most ingredients and technologies that serve as anti-microbials, and in anti-microbials I’m referring to ingredients that can prove the safety by either suppressing, inhibiting, or destroying any pathogenic bacteria, are not able to be used in products labeled “natural” and “organic.”

Sevie Kenyon: What kind of substitute materials are we talking about?

Jeff Sindelar: So our lab is specifically interested in trying to identify ingredients from natural sources that have anti-microbial efficacy and utilizing those types of ingredients in these processed meat products that are labeled “natural” and “organic.”

Sevie Kenyon: Jeff, what kinds of things are natural anti-microbials?

Jeff Sindelar: We have tested a number of different ingredients; such as cranberry concentrate, grape seed oil, tea tree extract, and a number of different natural-based organic acids that do offer a significant improvement to food safety.

Sevie Kenyon: What category of products are we talking about?

Jeff Sindelar: It’s a very long list of products that might include hams, bacons, hot dogs, bologna, smoked sausage, luncheon meats, and the list goes on and on.

Sevie Kenyon: Jeff, what are some of the challenges, really, to introducing these natural anti-microbials?

Jeff Sindelar: The first is functionality; so they must work. Not all natural anti-microbials work the same way, so for some natural anti-microbial ingredients we actually have to have very high levels. Sometimes, at very high levels, they can create negative quality attributes. One example of that would be cranberry concentrate. Cranberry concentrate is a very effective natural anti-microbial, however, for it to have an effective use it has to be used at very high levels and at those levels there is typically a negative color change that happens because, as you know, cranberries has a very red pigment.

Sevie Kenyon: Jeff, what kind of results has your research shown you at this point?

Jeff Sindelar: Our research results, so far, are telling us that there are anti-microbial ingredients that can improve the safety of products in which they are added. There’s no question that there will be new ingredients that are identified for the potential anti-microbial efficacy. Those ingredients will hopefully be researched. There’s no question there’ll be other technologies that will be incorporated and researched and included to enhance existing food safety. This research that we’ve accomplished in this lab is, however, very critical and very important for the future of food safety in this area.

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with Jeff Sindelar, Department of Animal Sciences, University of Wisconsin in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, WI and I’m Sevie Kenyon.

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