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Two-step cooking technique maximizes safety of chicken breast meat.

Consumption of chicken in America has been increasing rapidly to a current average of almost 40 kg per capita per year. As you know, L. monocytogenes can contaminate meat products and cause many illnesses and deaths each year that are associated with ready-to-eat poultry products.

Researchers at Cornell University wanted to minimize product weight loss while maximizing the effectiveness of a two-step cooking method. The technique involves grilling, then packaging chicken breast meat, followed by pasteurization. Their goal was to reduce the numbers and inhibit regrowth of L. monocytogenes in the product.

For the purpose of this pilot plant study, Listeria innocua (LI M1) was used as a surrogate for L. monocytogenes. LIMI has been shown to be more heat-resistant than L. monocytogenes. Investigators inoculated raw chicken breasts. Then they grilled, vacuum-packaged and hot water-pasteurized the samples to determine the lethality of grilling, as well as the synergistic effects of pasteurization.

Grilling caused a loss of only 6.3% of moisture, which was mainly due to searing. The grilling treatment achieved a reduction of 2.46 logs CFU per g of LI M1. There was no more weight loss after the product was packaged. Pasteurization produced a 2.30 logs CFU per g reduction in LI M1 levels. The combined two-step cooking method of searing and pasteurization generated nearly a 5-log reduction in LI M1 levels. The LI M1 did not experience substantial regrowth when the product was placed in refrigerated storage for 14 days.

Further information. Philip Crandall, University of Arkansas, Department of Food Science, 2650 N. Young Ave., N-213, Fayetteville, AR 72704; phone: 479-575-7686; fax: 479-575-6936; email:
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Publication:Microbial Update International
Date:Apr 1, 2007
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