The overall goal of this project was to develop a practical method for measuring ammonia contamination levels in meat products. The method was then used to study the uptake of ammonia by meat, and the effectiveness of methods designed to decrease contamination levels.
A relatively rapid and simple method for measuring ammonia contamination levels in meat exposed to ammonia refrigerant leaks has been developed. This method uses an ion selective electrode measurement, and should be suitable for use as a quality control procedure in meat processing facilities. This method was used to investigate the uptake of ammonia by fresh meat exposed to air containing 200 ppm ammonia. Fresh meat rapidly absorbs and binds ammonia, achieving ammonia concentrations in the product that exceed the levels of ammonia in the surrounding air. The rate of ammonia uptake by frozen meat is much slower. Potential simple methods for removing ammonia from exposed product were evaluated, including air flushing, vacuum treatment, and acid rinsing; however, none of these simple procedures were effective in providing substantial reduction in the ammonia levels.
A positive impact of this study is the availability of a practical method for measuring ammonia contamination in meat using ion selective electrode technology. This method should be applicable as a quality assurance tool in meat processing facilities. The results also provide better understanding of the levels of contamination that can occur when meat is exposed to ammonia contaminated air. A negative result is that the simple techniques explored for remediation of contaminated product, including air flushing, vacuum treatment, and acid rising, were not effective in providing meaningful reductions in ammonia levels.