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Post-Packaging Irradiation Combined with Modified Atmosphere Packaging for Control of Bacterial Pathogens on Meat Products

Martin, Robert; Jensen, Helen; Henroid, Daniel; Dickson, James; Sebranek, Joseph
Iowa State University
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  1. To determine the effectiveness of two irradiation doses (1.0 kGy, 2.5 kGy) for reduction of pathogenic bacteria on meat products in a high carbon dioxide-modified atmosphere package environment.
  2. To determine the sustained effectiveness of irradiation doses and packaging environments during extended refrigerated storage.
  3. To determine the quality effects of each treatment by monitoring color, rancidity and sensory quality of the products following the treatments.
  4. To assess the economic impact of the technology involved with the treatments and to use business simulation modeling to determine the merit of the process as a value-added improvement for the products studied.
  5. To disseminate the information to meat processors, consumers, and instructors of various food processing and food safety training programs.
More information
Bacterial pathogens on both fresh and processed meat products continue to be a concern for food safety. Because contamination cannot be completely prevented, treatments after packaging, when recontamination is virtually impossible, offer the greatest potential for long-term improvement in safety of these products. Combining the technologies of high carbon dioxide-modified atmosphere packaging with post-packaging irradiation to decrease initial contamination numbers and to suppress the growth of subsequent survivors on meat and meat products will be studied for effectiveness as a multiple-hurdle treatment to achieve improved safety from pathogens. Product quality resulting from the treatments will be evaluated. This study will also develop value-added comparisons using business simulation models and will create information programs for meat processors, educators and consumers.

Ground beef, inoculated with Escherichia coli O157:H7, raw chicken inoculated with Salmonella and Campylobacter, and cooked pork chops and frankfurters each inoculated with Listeria monocytogenes will be packaged in high carbon dioxide atmospheres (99.5%-100%)and irradiated with 1.0 KGy or 2.5 kGy doses. Ground beef and chicken (both raw) will be packaged in carbon monoxide:carbon dioxide (0.5%:99.5%) atmospheres to determine if desirable color stability can be maintained in spite of the high carbon dioxide levels. Cooked products (pork chops and frankfurters) where color is unaffected by carbon dioxide will be packaged in 100% carbon dioxide atmospheres. Products will be stored refrigerated at 2C-4C and survivors counted during storage to compare treatment effectiveness with products packaged in conventional vacuum packages. Uninoculated samples subjected to the same treatments will be evaluated for quality changes including color evaluation (Hunter L,a,b values), oxidative rancidity by thiobarbituric acid numbers and sensory panel evaluations.

Microbial growth results will be used for predictive modeling to develop risk assessment comparisons for the treatments studied. The economic impact of successful treatments will be conducted using business simulation models to determine the potential value added by the technology. Finally, the information will be included in industry short courses for meat industry personnel. The information will also be added to the ISU Food Safety Extension web site and included in curriculum materials developed for food safety instructors to be used at a variety of educational levels from high schools to universities.

Results of this study are expected to provide a means of improving the safety of meat products for consumers, and to provide an assessment of the economic viability of the process for industry adaptation.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
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Education and Training
Meat, Poultry, Game