Celery, vinegar, green tea, citrus and rosemary ingredients may increase shelf life and add food safety benefits in meat and poultry items.

Consumers may be familiar with celery, vinegar, green tea, citrus and rosemary, or at least more familiar than they are with nitrites, phosphates, BHA, BHT and propyl gallate. To take advantage of the simple label trend, companies may want the names of the first group on the ingredient lists of their meat and poultry products.

Using ingredients that consumers recognize is still a trend, said Tom Rourke, Ph.D., senior business development manager for Corbion.

“Do we see that still growing?” he asked. “Yes. On the retail markets it’s being driven by most of the clean label/natural grocers out there, and then just about every grocery chain has a section of clean and naturally labeled products. But the big thing that we’re seeing is the edicts from large food service establishments saying we’re going to get rid of, what we call, ‘ates.’ “

He mentioned lactate, propionate and benzoate as some of the chemical-sounding “ates” names.

Corbion this year launched Verdad Avanta C100, a blend featuring vinegar and celery powder that is designed for use in natural uncured deli meats, hot dogs, bologna and sausages. Celery powder is a natural source of nitrite, allowing companies to remove chemical sources of sodium nitrite from the label, Dr. Rourke said. Chemical sources of sodium nitrite are not allowed on natural meat and poultry labels, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture rules, he said.

Blending the celery powder with vinegar in Avanta C100 has a food safety benefit as well.

“We get a huge increase in Listeria control, basically flat line, no growth in Listeria over a 120-day period,” he said. “Then you say, ‘Well, why can’t we just buy powdered vinegar and buy celery, and we’ll add them as singles?’ And you know what, that’s not a bad solution. The key thing, though, is that we have a very unique vinegar product that is higher in pH than what you’ll normally find in the market. That blended higher pH, when it’s blended with celery, helps to bind a little more water. It has less effect on color.”

The “C” in Avanta C100 stands for cured. Corbion also offers Avanta F100 and Avanta Y100.

The “F” in Avanta F100 stands for flavor. Avanta F100, a blend of vinegar and jasmine tea extract, is designed for use in fresh ground meats like sausage, turkey, chicken and ground beef. It may be labeled as natural flavor. It may replace BHA, BHT and propyl gallate while extending shelf life, Dr. Rourke said.

The “Y” in Avanta Y100 stands for yield. The ingredient provides more than 120 days of Listeria control and enhances cook yield from 4% to 10%, depending on the application. Avanta Y100 may not be a complete phosphate replacer, but it does add back some yield and texture when phosphates are taken out of meat and poultry products, Dr. Rourke said.

Brock Lundberg, president of research and development for FiberStar, Inc., River Falls, Wis., listed four reasons why companies may want to remove phosphates: to clean up label declarations; to reduce sodium content; to reduce phosphate content in wastewater systems; and to reduce purge.

FiberStar offers Citri-Fi ingredients as a way to replace phosphate. Citri-Fi does not contain sodium. On the ingredient list it may appear as citrus flour, dried citrus pulp or citrus fiber.

“Citri‐Fi 100 M40 is an ideal phosphate replacement due to its particle size, water-holding capacity and clean label status,” Mr. Lundberg said. “Citri‐Fi 100 M40 performs well in injection systems due to its low viscosity and small particle size. The small particle size and low viscosity minimizes injection issues and gel pockets that may form in the meat muscle in the finished product.”

Since Citri-Fit in meat systems does not gel during cooking, it often is used in combination with rice starch and/or kappa carrageenan.

“Therefore, there is a synergistic benefit adding Citri‐Fi, which tightly binds moisture immediately, with a gelling ingredient that can solidify the binding network,” he said. “As a result, this combination improves yields during the cooking process. Because phosphates are highly effective to improve yields during cooking, replacing phosphates is a big challenge. By using Citri‐Fi in combination with rice starch and/or kappa carrageenan the cook yield is maintained when phosphates are removed.”

In some instances, rice starch is a better option than kappa carrageenan. For example, rice starch does not require e-number labeling in Europe. Citri-Fi does not require an e-number either. On the other hand, some companies use carrageenan in certain applications because the protein binding may be stronger and hold longer versus starch, he said.

FiberStar points to studies conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Iowa State University that involve brine injections. In whole bird chickens, yield values demonstrated that the Citri-Fi variables produced less purge and generated higher yields compared to whole bird chickens containing phosphates. In pork loins, Citri-Fi lowered the pH of brine, but the pH may be adjusted as needed, Mr. Lundberg said. The injection rate with Citri-Fi in the brine was higher compared to the control and the drip loss was lower at higher pH.

Ingredients such as rosemary extract and green tea extract may provide color benefits and improve oxidative stability in ground beef.

Kemin Food Technologies, Des Moines, Iowa, offers blends of rosemary extract and green tea as a way to extend shelf life in such products as ground beef, ground sausage and chicken patties, said Courtney Schwartz, senior marketing communications manager.

“BHA, BHT, propyl gallate and citric acid are common synthetic antioxidants used in processed meat and poultry products,” she said. “Our rosemary and green tea blends are great alternatives for processors wanting to clean up their label.”

The blending of rosemary and green tea allows more total extract to be added without having too much of a sensory impact, she said.

“Essentially, both the dosage threshold of rosemary extract and the flavor threshold of green tea can be added, which means a higher total of active molecules can be added than if rosemary extract or green tea extract were added alone,” Ms. Schwartz said.

In tests with cooked ground chicken patties, oxidative stability was measured by thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) and flavor stability was evaluated by an informal sensory panel. Fortium RGT 12 Plus Dry Extract, a blend of rosemary and green tea extract, had positive results on the TBARS as well as retaining positive flavor attributes.

In other tests, the blend of rosemary and green tea extract delayed the development of warmed-over flavor in cooked ground pork crumbles. The blend maintained redness in refrigerated raw pork better than green tea extract alone. The Fortium RGT 12 Plus treatment had a lower TBARS value than the green tea extract and the untreated control.

In raw frozen ground beef patties, the blend maintained more of the desirable red color when compared to untreated ground beef. The blend also improved oxidative stability.

Newly Weds Foods, Chicago, has added DefenStat to its IsoStat products group portfolio of food safety ingredients. DefenStat contains vinegar, spice extractives and natural flavors. A liquid, it may be applied directly to ground products and to whole muscle meats by marination. The label-friendly, antimicrobial ingredient inhibits E. Coli and Salmonella growth known to occur in cold chain distribution.