The overall goal of the project was to identify antimicrobial ingredients for reducing levels of Salmonella contamination in frozen, not-ready-to-eat breaded chicken products.
A study was initially conducted to screen for levels of 11 individual antimicrobial ingredients against Salmonella in raw chicken breast portions. Based on the findings of this study, four antimicrobials were selected for further evaluation as single or combination treatments, in a process simulating the manufacture of a frozen, not-ready-to-eat breaded chicken product. Additional studies evaluated the combined effect of different surface browning methods (i.e., oven baking or flash frying) and product dimensions [i.e., small (9 × 2.5 × 2 cm; 50 g) or large (9 × 5 × 3 cm; 150 g)] on Salmonella reductions in products formulated with selected antimicrobial treatments. Selected findings indicated that single treatments of caprylic acid (0.25 to 1.0%), carvacrol (0.3 to 0.5%), peracetic acid (0.3 and 0.5%), and ε -polylysine (0.5 and 1.0%) reduced Salmonella contamination in frozen, not-ready-to-eat breaded chicken products by 1.6 to at least 4.7 log CFU/g; combinations comprised of caprylic acid (0.0625 to 0.25%) + carvacrol (0.075 to 0.3%), caprylic acid (0.0625 to 0.25%) + ε -polylysine (0.5%) or carvacrol (0.075 to 0.3%) + ε -polylysine (0.5%) reduced Salmonella counts by 1.7 to at least 4.5 log CFU/g, depending on the treatment; and combinations comprised of all three ingredients (i.e., caprylic acid + carvacrol + ε -polylysine) reduced Salmonella counts by 2.4 to at least 4.6 log CFU/g, depending on the concentrations tested. Irrespective of antimicrobial treatment, oven browning of 9 × 2.5 × 2 cm (50 g) samples resulted in higher reductions of Salmonella than oven browning of 9 × 5 × 3 cm (150 g) samples; product dimensions did not affect pathogen reductions in samples surface-browned by flash frying. Fully cooked, uninoculated, breaded chicken products formulated with 0.5% ε -polylysine, alone, were found to be organoleptically acceptable by a sensory panel, compared to an untreated control (no antimicrobial ingredients), while products formulated with caprylic acid and/or carvacrol were less desirable.
The findings of these studies may be useful for the selection of suitable antimicrobials, proper concentrations, and product manufacturing methods for reduction of Salmonella contamination in frozen, not-ready-to-eat, surface-browned, breaded chicken entrees.