“Meating” new preservation

The way human beings feed themselves strongly influences their physical and emotional balance. Meat products are an excellent source of nutrients and are widely consumed around the world. However, these products are also susceptible to chemical and microbiological deterioration, which creates health risks.

Consumption of contaminated food and water kills 1.8 million people annually. In addition, each person is wasting an average of 150kg of food per year, also due to lack of food conservation.

Packaged meat products arrive at the consumer’s house in good food safety conditions. However, food contamination is a serious concern at the post-opening stage of the package. It is thus urgent to create more advanced solutions of food preservation, which reduce the contamination and increase the shelf-life after the package is opened.

Sliced charcuterie may have an extended shelf-life with the developed technology.

A new technology for the preservation of charcuterie

Researchers at the University of Coimbra, Portugal, and Primor Charcutaria Prima developed a research project to address this problem. New surfactant and polymer systems were developed to promote longer shelf life through the incorporation of consumer safe edible coatings in the meat. Furthermore, this coating prevents the use of the protective N2/CO2 atmosphere in the packaging, which leads to the reduction of the amount of plastic volume used in the packaging, yielding a better environmental impact.

The various types of performed assays included: chemical, physical and microbiological tests to identify coatings with improved bacterial elimination, light scattering and rheology tests to identify the best suited coatings for spray application, and electron microscopy to compare the level of meat degradation with and without coating. Color, taste, texture and odor were continuously monitored throughout the project. After the laboratory tests, the best performance coatings were applied in semi-industrial environment.

This new results will make available to consumers a new generation of preservation for fresh meat products.

Author: Filipe Antunes

Expert in food chemistry. PhD in Physical Chemistry. Professor at University of Coimbra, Portugal, consulting for international and national companies. CEO at DBox Portugal. Professional experience at Procter & Gamble (USA) and BASF (Germany). Head of 32 funded scientific projects in food coatings, nano and micro encapsulation, green chemistry and materials. Principal investigator at the COLLING group of the University of Coimbra. Holder of 19 international awards.

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