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Combined treatment extends shelf life.

In the last decade, there has been a noticeable increase in the instances of foodborne poisoning attributed to the mishandling of meat and poultry products. For processors to combat safety hazards, they must ensure that food poisoning doesn't occur. There is a need to extend shelf life and develop new preservation methods using natural additives in response to consumer demand.

One approach might come from European research. Greek scientists found that a combination of chitosan and thyme, along with modified atmosphere packaging (MAP), can extend the shelf life of ready-to-cook poultry products. Researchers found that using these substances under MAP conditions curbed the growth of bacteria, inhibited lipid oxidation and maintained the visual and sensory quality of the product.

The researchers evaluated the performance of chitosan and thyme in fresh chicken-pepper kebabs. This product has a relatively short shelf life of six days. In addition, it often has a high initial microbial load. The scientists evaluated the shelf life of the poultry under five separate conditions: a control stored under anaerobic packaging conditions; samples stored under MAP; samples treated with 1.5% chitosan and stored under MAP; samples treated with 0.2% thyme essential oil; and samples treated with 1.5% chitosan and 0.2% thyme essential oil and stored under MAP.

In all cases, the poultry was stored at 4 C for 14 days. The treatment with the combined chitosan-thyme material under MAP conditions significantly affected aerobic plate counts and counts of lactic acid bacteria, Pseudomonas spp., Brochothrix thermosphacta, Enterobacteriaceae, and yeasts and molds during the entire storage period. Lipid oxidation of the ready-to-cook product was similarly retarded in the chitosan-thyme treatment during storage. The product's redness was maintained in all of the treated samples.

The shelf life of the control was six days. The treatment with thyme and chitosan under MAP conditions extended the shelf life to 12 days. Product with the combined chitosan-thyme treatment had a shelf life of 14 days. Acceptable sensory characteristics were maintained. Chitosan and thyme, both individually and in combination, had a positive effect on meat flavor.

Further information. I. N. Savvaidis, Laboratory of Food Chemistry and Food Microbiology, Department of Chemistry, University of Ioannina, P.O. Box 1186, Ioannina 45110, Greece; phone: 26510-07777; email:
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Author:Savvaidis, I.N.
Publication:Microbial Update International
Date:Jun 1, 2010
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