By Allison Bardic, Senior Editor
Potent food-surface treatments that reduce levels of pathogenic bacteria enhance meat and poultry processors' food-safety and quality programs.
Minimizing microbial contamination is naturally a top priority for meat and poultry processors. Among their food-safety interventions are food-surface treatments that are increasingly simple and effective in killing a wide range of contaminants.
Activin™, a patented form of Activated Lactoferrin, protects against more than 30 types of harmful bacteria, including E. coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter, for example. The naturally-occurring protein — found in dairy products — is offered by aLF Ventures LLC, a joint venture between National Beef Packing Co. and DMV International, a Netherlands-based lactoferrin manufacturer.
Used on all National Beef meat products, Activin™ detaches adherent pathogens, prevents pathogen attachment, and inhibits pathogen growth once sprayed on the meat's surface. "[Activin™] naturally protects meat from harmful bacteria while not impacting the taste, appearance, or nutritional qualities of the meat," explains David Hall, senior vice president sales and marketing, aLF Ventures. "Activin™ is a natural antimicrobial designed to work outside the body in the same way that nature naturally protects us against disease … It is the first, all-natural approach to food safety that has the ability to protect meat surfaces from pathogen contamination after processing."
Another unique food-surface treatment, North Little Rock, AR-based Safe Foods Corp.'s Cecure™ is based on cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC), the active ingredient used in mouth rinses and throat lozenges. CPC has been proven effective in killing most food-borne pathogens including Listeria, E. coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter.
Safe Foods says it will start making Cecure™ available to chicken and turkey processors as the next generation food-safety technology in a pre-chill application. The process, approved by the Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA), involves spraying Cecure™ on poultry as it passes from the inside-outside bird washer into the chiller. This overspray is captured and recycled in the process, leaving no environmental impact.
"Cecure™ has no adverse organoleptic affects. It doesn't affect the taste, odor, texture, or appearance of the product being treated," says Mark Hill, chief marketing officer, Safe Foods Corp. "It has no impact on the environment, in fact, only potable water is released into the plant environment and waste water."
While Safe Foods seeks regulatory approval for the application of Cecure™ to beef, other applications under development include pork, seafood, and fruits and vegetables.
Meanwhile, Ecolab Inc., a St. Paul, MN-based leader in multiple-intervention strategies, offers Inspexx™ 100 for use in poultry spray rinsing and chill water, and Inspexx™ 200 for use in carcass sprays on red meat surfaces. Pre-mixed and ready to feed, the peroxyacetic acid-based Inspexx™ products are touted for their ease of use, environmentally responsible formulation (non-chlorine and low phosphate), and proven antimicrobial efficacy against a broad spectrum of pathogens including E. coli, Listeria, Salmonella, and Campylobacter.
Jeff Prickel, senior marketing manager, Ecolab, points to the Inspexx™ products' compatibility with other food-safety interventions as another advantage to processors, while also noting that they are inherently cost effective. "They can be applied in low-use concentrations, compared to other food-surface treatments available, and no rinsing is required," he adds.
Moving forward, Prickel says Ecolab, ever augmenting its brimming food-safety arsenal, is developing a food-surface antimicrobial treatment for Listeria monocytogenes in further-processed, ready-to-eat areas, among other projects.
A patented slaughtering technology offers benefits including food safety, improved quality, longer shelf life, and attractive marketing attributes.
St. Paul, MN-based MPSC Inc.'s pre-rigor technology, known as Rinse & Chill™, effectively removes residual blood, and drops the carcasses' pH and temperature earlier and more rapidly, with an antimicrobial affect targeting coliform and E. coli.
Approved for use in beef and bison, Rinse & Chill™ involves a redesign of the front end of most beef plants. A dilute solution containing USDA-approved substrates (sugars and electrolyte) is superchilled then rinsed through the animal immediately post-bleed in an area specially designated for Rinse & Chill.
Lower initial contamination comes from the fact that Rinse & Chill™ facilitates carcass dressing procedures, particularly hide removal operations where most contamination occurs, and scientific data shows Rinse & Chill™ beef products are less favorable environments for bacterial growth, particularly for those microorganisms such as coliform bacteria due to a combination of superior blood removal, pH control, and temperature reduction.
"Rinse & chill has been scientifically documented to provide a novel, targeted on-going antimicrobial effect in meat, whether carcass, vacuum packaged primals or ground beef," notes Warner Ide, president, MPSC. "Rinse & chill is also the only commercially viable beef slaughter technology predicated on pre-rigor muscle science."
Q. What is your company's greatest food safety success story?
A. Medtrol Inc., Niles, IL, manufactures the very popular Sani C and Sani Q family of products which consists of sanitary cleaners. These products, which do not require a rinse with potable water after use, are available as wipes, sprays, pop-up canisters or gallon containers and can be applied to food contact surfaces in processing plants throughout the work shift. Medtrol President Dr. Joseph Martorano attributes the success of these products to their simplicity and convenience and their ability to punctuate each "processor's" HACCP program. Additionally, each of these products can be used in both meat and poultry plants as well as in the ready-to-eat facilities, bakeries and more.
Q. Define the latest food safety related innovations to emerge from your company and their chief attributes and benefits for meat and poultry processors.
A. Medtrol's newest product is Sani-Sense™, a soft pack of sanitary, cleaner-saturated, large-size towels primarily developed for use in casual-dining or fast-food restaurants as well as at the consumer level. However, it also fills a niche identified by some operators of delis and meat and poultry processors. This product is cutting-edge technology that will save users time and money and increase the overall quality of their day-to-day operation.
Another business opportunity for these Medtrol products is their use as part of the IPM approach in the pest control industry.
Q. What type(s) of food safety solutions are meat and poultry processors most inquiring about?
A. Meat and poultry processors are very aware of costs related to processing. They want products that can be used in either meat or poultry processing plants, meet their HACCP program needs, are readily available, convenient to use, user friendly, high quality, reliable and cost effective.
Q. What are the greatest food safety challenges facing meat and poultry processors today, and where do the most opportunities for improvement lay?
A. The greatest food safety challenges facing the meat and poultry processors today is ensuring the nation that they are providing safe and wholesome products to the consumer.
Processors are keenly aware of the impact of not following proper sanitation procedures in food processing. This situation frequently results in a food recall, usually after public announcements of "food poisoning" due to eating contaminated food products. Therefore, sanitation standards must be in place and constantly maintained to prevent microorganisms from entering food products for human consumption.
Q. What food safety issues have most impacted your business over the past year and what can the industry expect from your company during the next 12-24 months?
A. Our business has been most impacted by the need to maintain cost controls and provide value-added services to our meat and poultry processing customers, while continuing to consistently manufacture top-quality and reliable sanitary cleaning products to help producers provide safe food environments.
We have just introduced a new product called Sani-Sense™ as another tool to provide a convenient, yet cost effective sanitary cleaner wipe for fast-food restaurant table tops and counter tops. The intent of this product is to help fast-food and conventional restaurants easily and continuously maintain a safe and sanitary surface where customers and/or food may come into contact.