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Natural and organic foods 20+ % growth per year Slowed in 2008/2009 and since but still positive Consumers will pay very significant premiums –10 – 40.

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Presentation on theme: "Natural and organic foods 20+ % growth per year Slowed in 2008/2009 and since but still positive Consumers will pay very significant premiums –10 – 40."— Presentation transcript:

1 Natural and organic foods 20+ % growth per year Slowed in 2008/2009 and since but still positive Consumers will pay very significant premiums –10 – 40 % for most –200 % or more for meat and poultry

2 Natural foods Comply with USDA Food Standards and Labeling Policy Book “…does not contain any artificial flavor or flavoring, coloring ingredient, or chemical preservative (as defined in 21 CFR ), or any other artificial or synthetic ingredient; and the product and its ingredients are not more than minimally processed.”

3 Nitrite and nitrate are considered “chemical preservatives” which are not permitted in natural foods.

4 Organic foods Governed by Organic Foods Production Act (1990)-specific practices/substances Products and ingredients must be certified organic (USDA) (95+%) and may use USDA organic seal Meat must produced using organic management and from a certified farm Ingredients in processed foods must be organic also (labels: “100% organic”, “organic” (95%) or “made with organic ingredients” (at least 70%) Nitrate and nitrite are specifically prohibited

5 Natural and organic frankfurters, hams, bacon, luncheon meats, etc. must be labeled “Uncured” because curing agents (nitrite and nitrate) cannot be added to these products.

6 “Any product, such as frankfurters and corned beef, for which there is a standard in this part and to which nitrate or nitrite is permitted or required to be added, may be prepared without nitrate or nitrite and labeled with such standard name when immediately preceded with the term “Uncured” in the same size an style of lettering as the rest of such standard name: Provided, that the product is found by the Administrator to be similar in size, flavor, consistency and general appearance to such products commonly prepared with nitrate and nitrite…” 9 CFR 319.2

7 Yet, most of these natural “uncured” products have very typical cured meat color, flavor and appearance, and chemical analyses confirm the presence of nitrite and nitrate.

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12 Commercially available celery juice powder (dried celery juice) contains 25,000 – 30,000 ppm of nitrate (2.5 – 3.0 %), or ppm nitrite (1.5%, pre-converted prior to sale)

13 “Uncured” labeling of frankfurters, hams, bacon, etc. that have typical cured meat properties, and that contain nitrate and nitrite is misleading and technically incorrect.

14 “Natural” curing processes utilize natural ingredients high in nitrate such as vegetable products, and a nitrate-reducing starter culture to produce nitrite from nitrate, therefore a much more appropriate label would be “Naturally cured” or “Alternatively cured”. But…these terms are not recognized by USDA

15 Quality issues with natural and organic cured meats Color development and stability (less nitrite) -no regulatory limit on celery but limited by flavor Flavor and flavor stability (less nitrite) –other antioxidants can protect flavor but cannot produce cured flavor Nitrite concentration produced from nitrate by “natural” processes is impossible to determine because of high reactivity

16 Safety issues with natural and organic cured meats Nitrite is a highly effective antimicrobial, particularly for protection from Clostridium botulinum in vacuum packaged products Excess nitrite can be a risk factor for formation of n-nitrosamines (probably not an issue in celery concentrate due to high pH of the concentrate) No regulatory limit on celery (limited by flavor) -now normally low but what if flavor is reduced?

17 Needs 1.Challenge studies with microbial pathogens and, perhaps, additional antimicrobials 2.Standardized processes that will result in controlled production of nitrite during natural cures (achieved by pre-converted celery concentrate). 3.More appropriate and informative labeling regulations for natural and organic processed meats 4.Alternative vegetable sources may offer greater concentration/flavor ratio, i.e. Swiss chard


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