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Organic Meat Turns to Natural Preservatives

Organic Meat Turns to Natural Preservatives

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Researchers are on a quest for natural preservatives that can make organic meat safer

Wikimedia Commons: Alpha

Beef gets even more natural.

As the market for organic and natural meats is rapidly expanding, the demand for a natural-based organic meat preservative rises as well.

Jeff Sindelar, an associate professor and extension meat specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has recently been testing different natural-based organic acids like cranberry concentrate, grape seed oil, and tea tree extract in an attempt to create a new way to preserve meat without using manufactured ingredients.

Meats that are labeled “organic” or “natural” now make up at least 30 percent of processed meat sold at retail stores. Thus, Sindelar recognizes the urgency in finding a preservative that can be used for organic meat to ensure that these products are safe for consumption once they make it onto the grocery store shelves.

Sindelar and his colleagues, however, recognize the challenges in creating an organic meat preservative, as most ingredients and technologies that can suppress, inhibit or destroy harmful bacteria do not follow the guidelines associated with the “organic” and “natural labels.”

There is hope, though: research has revealed that certain natural compounds like sodium nitrate can work, as well as standard preservatives, even if these natural ingredients are needed in much higher quantities to be effective.

Organic meat preservatives may be just the edge the organic industry needs to boost its marketability to rival traditional meats production. Rest assured that your delicious, environmentally-friendly organic meat is now even safer.

Cosmetic products need to be be preserved in order to prevent microbial spoilage that would make the product unsafe for consumers.

Preservatives play a very important function in products containing water: they kill microorganisms and water-borne bacteria, and prevent the growth of bacteria, mold and yeast. If a product contains water (including hydrosols, floral water and aloe vera juice, all of which contain water), a preservative is essential to help prevent microbes growing.

Anhydrous (water-free) products generally don’t require preservatives as they are not prone to microbial contamination. This includes products like lip balms and anhydrous whipped body butters. The exception here is an anhydrous product that might come into contact with water (eg a body scrub or a cleansing balm applied with wet fingers). With these types of products you either need to be very careful not to introduce water to the product during use, or you should include a preservative.

You will need to use a broad spectrum preservative, which means it is effective against bacteria, mold and yeast.

It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the amount of preservative to use too much or too little could be potentially hazardous.

The only way to know that your preservative is working sufficiently is to have a microbiological challenge test carried out by a lab. This is recommended (and in some countries compulsory) if you are selling your products.

Vitamin E, rosemary extract and grapefruit seed extract are not preservatives.

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Do “Natural” and “Organic” Mean the Same Thing? (The Short Answer: Nope.)

“Natural” can mean any number of different things, depending on where in the US you are, who the food manufacturer is and what store is carrying the product. In fact, the FDA has said it’s okay to call high-fructose corn syrup “natural.”

But federal regulations strictly define the term “organic.” When you see “organic” on the label, you know that food was made with a set of farming and production practices defined and regulated, in great detail, by the USDA.

While “natural” assures you of little, “organic” tells you you’re buying food made without the use of toxic persistent pesticides, GMOs, antibiotics, artificial growth hormones, sewage sludge or irradiation.

*Except when used to describe meat or poultry. According to the USDA, “natural” meat and poultry contain no artificial ingredients or added color and are only minimally processed.

Researchers look to natural sources for organic meat preservatives

When Jeff Sindelar talks about the ingredients he’s working with, you’d think he was making juice. Not quite. He’s adding things like cranberry concentrate, cherry powder, lemon extract and celery powder to meat.

He’s not adding them for flavor. He’s looking at ways to ensure that meat products labeled “organic” and “natural”-which he says now account for at least a third of the processed meat products sold at retail-are safe to eat.

“A number of different natural-based organic acids offer a significant improvement to food safety,” says Sindelar, associate professor and extension meat specialist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “We have tested a number of different ingredients, such as cranberry concentrate, grape seed oil and tea tree extract.”

Providing a safe organic meat product is no simple task, he says. One of the main reasons consumers choose organic foods is to limit their intake of manufactured ingredients. That takes a lot of common meat-curing methods off the table.

“Most ingredients and technologies that serve as antimicrobials-ingredients that can improve the safety by either suppressing, inhibiting, or destroying any pathogenic bacteria-are not able to be used in products labeled ‘natural’ and ‘organic,'” Sindelar says.

Fortunately, there are some compounds from natural sources that work as well as standard preservatives such as sodium nitrate and nitrite or sodium erythorbate. The problem is that it can take heavy doses of some natural ingredients to provide equivalent results.

“Cranberry concentrate is a very effective natural anti-microbial,” says Sindelar. “But if you use enough to control the growth of bacteria, the meat turns cranberry red.” The challenge is to ensure that organic meats are both safe and appetizing.

Sindelar and other UW researchers are testing a wide variety of microbe-inhibiting natural extracts. Part of this involves ‘challenge testing’- adding infectious microbes to the meat to make sure that a given ingredient prevents the growth of bacteria throughout processing and storage. If substantial numbers of microbes grow, that ingredient is ruled out.

In some cases, they’re turning to nature for the same preservatives that are usually synthesized. Naturally occurring nitrates in vegetable extracts can be converted to meat-preserving nitrites by adding certain types of bacteria. The nitrites can prevent the growth of disease-causing bacteria, keep fats from turning rancid and yield the flavor and pinkish color that we have come to expect from cured meats.

Successful tests have already led to new products. Cherry powder combined with celery powder “is already being adopted by processors that make organic and natural meats because of how effective these ingredients are in improving meat safety and quality,” notes Sindelar. And the search for other natural additives continues.

“There’s no question that there will be new ingredients identified that have potential antimicrobial efficacy and meet the standards for organic labeling. The fundamental research that we’ve accomplished is critical for the future of food safety in this area. It will facilitate the use of these ingredients and the development of safer organic meat products.

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What happens if you don’t add a preservative

You’re posing a threat to your customer health AND you could be facing serious legal consequences.

Bacterial contamination is not always visible. Even if you don’t see it, the product could be contaminated with potentially deadly bacteria such as E.Coli and Pseudomonas Aeruginosa.

This is even more important if you formulate products that go into contact with the eye area.

Please, don’t do that!

6 Natural Kitchen Ingredients to Preserve Food Without Using Food Additives


Garlic has anti-viral properties that help in fighting bacteria, both in your body and food​
Using just a pinch of unprocessed Himalayan salt can help preserve your food in a healthier way​
Spicy ingredients like Cayenne, mustard and hot sauce are some of the best natural food preservatives​
Lemons are a natural source of citric acid and make an exceptionally good preservative The acetic acid present in vinegar kills microbes and inhibits food spoilage​
Sugar is a natural preservative that helps food get rid of water and microorganisms

Natural vs. Organic

What's the difference between organic and natural? Isn't "natural food" just as safe and healthy as organic food? Unfortunately, natural does not mean organic and comes with no guarantees. "Natural foods" are often assumed to be foods that are minimally processed and do not contain any hormones, antibiotics or artificial flavors. In the United States, however, neither the FDA nor the USDA has rules or regulations for products labeled "natural." As a result, food manufacturers often place a "natural" label on foods containing heavily processed ingredients.

What about organic? Organic is the most heavily regulated food system. Only organic guarantees no toxic synthetic pesticides, toxic synthetic herbicides, or chemical NPK fertilizers are used in production, and no antibiotics or growth hormones are given to animals. Organic producers and processors also are subject to rigorous announced - and unannounced - certification inspections by third-party inspectors to ensure that they are producing and processing organic products in a manner you and your family can trust.

Learn about the USDA certified organic label and read on for more about the difference between organic, natural and conventional products.

Unlike natural and other eco-label claims, only organic offers government-backed assurance that products are grown and processed without the use of toxic chemicals, antibiotics and synthetic growth hormones. Read on to learn what makes organic the most heavily regulated food system, and why it's worth it to trust the organic label above others.

Is anything really organic?

In food, yes. That's because the USDA requires companies to follow certain agricultural practices before getting verified. But in other types of products, that's not necessarily the case.

The Bottom Line: While we still don't know everything about GMOs and organic growing practices, there is one thing about this debate I can say with confidence: It's more important to know exactly what foods are wholesome, nutritious, and health-promoting overall rather than focusing on a specific label claim.

Watch the video: Ντοκιμαντέρ Citizend 2021 (July 2022).


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