The primary objective of this study was to identify levels of potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, and sodium propionate that prevent growth of Listeria monocytogenes on sliced, cooked, uncured turkey breast (<1% fat) and cured ham (5-7% fat manufactured with 156 ppm sodium nitrite) products.
Data revealed that > 0.2% Propionate or combinations of >0.1% Proprionate+0.1% Sorbate will prevent listerial growth in uncured turkey stored at 4°C for 12 weeks. When used in conjunction with nitrite, lower concentrations of antimycotics are needed to control pathogen growth. Growth of L. monocytogenes was prevented in ham stored at 4°C for 12 weeks when formulated with 0.1% Benzoate, >0.2% Propionate, 0.3% Sorbate, or combinations of 0.1% Proprionate+0.1% Sorbate. Comparison with previous research in bologna suggests that relatively low moisture (55%) and pH (6.1) will also reduce the minimum concentration of antimycotic required to prevent listerial growth during 3 month storage at 4°C. Sensory analysis for products using the highest concentration of single, effective antimicrobials reported consumers preferred the flavor of ham with 0.3% Propionate or 0.1% Benzoate compared with the 1.6% Lactate + 0.1% Diacetate treatment, and no significant difference compared with the Control without antimicrobials added. The addition of 0.3% Sorbate rated lowest in consumer taste preference. For deli-style turkey, consumers rated 0.3% Sorbate treatments equivalent (P>0.05) to Controls without antimicrobials (rating and overall preference). In contrast, consumers preferred (P<0.05) the Control turkey over the turkey containing sodium propionate. Flavor appears to be a major limitation of the use sodium propionate in turkey.
This research verifies that propionate, benzoate, and sorbate will enhance the safety of high-moisture, RTE cured and uncured meat and poultry products and that addition of these antimicrobials will have little negative impact on consumer taste preference. Data can be used to petition FSIS for approval of propionate, benzoate, and sorbate for use in product formulations to control L. monocytogenes.