Vinegar, food safety
Vinegar, a natural source of acetic acid, may be effective in controlling pathogens.

Addressing the hazards

Almost all (about 95%) foodborne disease outbreaks where meat and poultry are identified as the potential vehicle, are the result of undercooking, pathogen proliferation or cross contamination, according to C.D.C. data. Decontamination is paramount, but not enough. A comprehensive food safety plan for meat and poultry products must address all hazards before, during and after the products leave the manufacturing facility.

“If you want to attack the other 95% of causative factors, you need pathogen proliferation control when notoriously unreliable refrigeration fails,” Mr. Maehler said. “You also need something to assist end-users to achieve a validated kill step outside of the tight constraints of a HACCP-controlled cook factory and something to reduce the potential for cross contamination in a home kitchen and food service.”

Lactates, propionic acid and acetic acid are all organic acids that are effective at controlling pathogen growth. Propionic acid is recognized as being the most effective of these acids; while vinegar, a natural source of acetic acid, is where a great deal of innovation has been taking place. This is because vinegar is an ingredient consumers understand and don’t view as a chemical preservative; thus, it is viewed as a clean label ingredient.

Newly Weds Foods offers proprietary combinations of vinegar and spice extractives. The ingredients inhibit pathogen proliferation throughout product processing and distribution, reduce potential for cross-contamination and enhance E. coli and Salmonella susceptibility to heat. The ingredients are sourced from nature, with organic and non-G.M.O. options available. The easy-to-use liquid is applied directly to ground products and to whole muscle meats by marination. It does not impact food flavor or overall product quality.

“For raw beef and poultry applications, we suggest a usage level of 1%," Mr. Maehler said. "This amount has demonstrated complete pathogen inhibition for up to a full month even when stored at 45° F, where exponential pathogen growth in controls is seen in less than two weeks. The extracts have also been shown to increase pathogen reduction by more than 90% at temperatures in the high 120s (degrees F) to low 130s (degrees F), where meat and poultry begins to look cooked but has not achieved the U.S.D.A.-recommended kill level.”

World Technology Ingredients, Inc. (W.T.I.) offers a range of functional ingredients for pathogen control, including liquids and powders, low-sodium or sodium-free options, clean label, natural, organic and non-G.M.O. ingredients. All products inhibit the growth of Listeria monocytogenes, as well as other pathogens and spoilage organisms, thereby increasing food safety and extending shelf life.

“Our ingredients can be added directly into a food product or used as a topical treatment,” said Klaus Kreuzner, director of sales at W.T.I. “Our products are designed to inhibit Listeria growth in ready-to-eat items. We have conducted studies with our vinegars and achieved 70 to 90 days without Listeria growth at 0.5% to 0.7% usage rates.”