High dietary salt intake has been linked to a number of health problems, including increased blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, and the food industry has been increasingly looking at ways to develop reduced salt products.
But food manufacturers also have to consider the impact on microbiological safety when making formulation changes to controlling factors such as salt in specific products; salt in foods both reduces water activity and inhibits growth of food poisoning and spoilage organisms.
The objective of the study by Belgian researchers, which was published in the International Journal of Food Science and Technology, was to determine the combined effect of lowering the salt content and adding a mixture of potassium lactate and sodium diacetate on the shelf life of a sliced and pre-packaged model cooked meat product that had been manufactured on a semi industrial scale.
According to the authors, lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are the bacteria that are responsible for the spoilage of refrigerated cooked meat products under vacuum and modified atmosphere, and as a result, the shelf life evaluation of the product used in the study comprised a challenge test employing a LAB cocktail.
The researchers said that the model cooked meat product was an imitation of cooked ham as it had a similar recipe.
For the experiment, varying concentrations of Purasal Opti.Form PD 4 - a potassium lactate and sodium diacetate mixture supplied by Purac Biochem – were added to the model meat product, which was then sliced to a thickness level of two to three mm, inoculated with the spoilage organisms, and packaged under a modified atmosphere.
Microbial analyses, explained the researchers, were performed before and after inoculation, and at several intervals subsequently.
The authors said they found that the use of the lactate/diacetate mixture enabled a 40 per cent reduction of the salt content in the cooked meat.
Moreover, they said that in spite of the reduced salt content, the shelf life was significantly increased, and the processed meat products were also acceptable from a sensory point of view.
Source: International Journal of Food Science and Technology, Vol 44, Issue 2Published online ahead of print Title: Reducing salt intake from meat products by combined use of lactate and diacetate salts without affecting microbial stabilityAuthors: F. Devlieghere, L. Vermeiren, E. Bontenbal, P. Lamers & J. Debevere