New headspace technique detects poultry spoilage

By Staff Reporter

- Last updated on GMT

US scientists have developed a new simple diagnostic instrument that speedily detects minute traces of chemical compounds that indicate poultry spoilage, leaving the product undamaged.

The process can detect minute amounts of spoilage compounds and can be used by suppliers during all stages of processing, transport and storage, said scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The method samples the air above the meat – the so-called headspace - to check for the presence of volatile organic compounds that are present during the early stages of decay. These are emitted upon lipid and/or protein oxidation.

NIST research chemists Tom Bruno and Tara Lovestead said the significance of their technique lies in identifying difficult to detect trace amounts of low volatility compounds present early in the spoilage process. Analyzing such compounds used to require impractically long collection times to get a big enough sample for testing and identification, they said.

The technique – called cryoadsorption - involves using a short alumina-coated tube cooled to very low temperatures to promote the adsorption of low-volatility chemicals.

The scientists separated and identified six potential chemical markers that could be used to indicate poultry spoilage before it becomes unhealthy. Those markers were found in the air above spoiled chicken breasts, maintained in their original retail packaging and kept at room temperature for two weeks.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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