The Danish company claims that the new ingredient creates the necessary colour and flavour, and offers the same functionality as traditional curing methods.
Consumers of course are increasingly interested in 'good for you' foods, with many examining labels for natural ingredients before deciding to make a purchase.
But cured meat products can be a challenge to produce with a natural label due to the addition of nitrite or nitrate.
Nitrite retards rancidity, stabilises flavour, and establishes the characteristic pink colour of cured meat. Although studies and recommendations by health and governmental organisations ensure the safety of nitrite or nitrate cured meats, many consumers avoid products that list these ingredients on the label.
Chr Hansen has now developed a new natural cure for manufacturers to achieve the traditional flavour, colour, and stability of cured meats without adding synthetic nitrates or nitrites. The company's natural ingredient and meat culture can be used in place of nitrite to naturally cure meats.
Naturally occurring nitrates are converted by the culture to nitrite and thus naturally cure the meat. Since this curing process utilises naturally occurring nitrates, the label declaration becomes consumer friendly.
This latest innovation follows a concerted effort by the company to capture a larger chunk of the meat cultures market. Franco Franzoni, business manager for meat & prepared food in Italy, recently told FoodNavigator that Chr Hansen was intent on increasing its 50 per cent share of the Italian meat cultures market.
The development of natural meat cures, which are available globally, should help the company consolidate its position by offering manufacturers real advantages.
In the US for example, the finished product can be labelled as 'uncured' in accordance with labelling regulations from the USDA. If nitrites and nitrates are not added to a traditional cured meat product, the product must be labelled as 'uncured' (9CFR317.17).
"These natural ingredients offer the same functionality as traditional curing methods, and provides consumers with a natural choice," said Teresa Supnet-Rosa, regional industry manager for meat and prepared foods at Chr Hansen.
"Processors will find that our natural cure, coupled with the knowledge of our technical experts, can assist them in developing and producing foods that satisfy the consumer's discriminating tastes and desire for more natural foods, as well as meet shelf life requirements and production methods."