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Refrigerated meat products are perishable products with a short shelf life. In addition, vacuum or modified atmosphere storage at refrigerated temperatures can give a selective advantage to the development of psychrotrophic spore-forming bacteria of the Bacillus and Clostridium genera. As a result, preservative additives such as nitrites are often required to ensure the safety of low-acid refrigerated products throughout their shelf-life.
Challenges and objectives
Given the strong societal pressure to reduce chemical inputs into ready-to-eat food products, the objective of the BLAC HP project is to develop a new strategy for stabilizing processed chilled meat products by combining high pressure and biopreservation by lactic acid bacteria. Vacuum-packed ham cubes with reduced nitrite content are chosen as the working model. Thanks to the baroresistance of certain lactic acid bacteria, the combination of processes should make it possible to control both undesirable vegetative and spore flora. It will enable us to offer a sustainable process for nitrite-reduced meat products with a maintained or extended shelf-life, while preserving optimum organoleptic quality. Indeed, BLAC HP will not only enable in-depth study of the mechanism of microbiological stabilization, in particular of psychrophilic spore-forming flora, at the scale of cells and the overall ecosystem of the product, but also of related aspects of development: the resulting nutritional, technological and sensory qualities of the product throughout its shelf-life. In addition, the life-cycle analysis of the process will make it possible to objectively compare its environmental impact with that of the traditional manufacturing process, thanks to the creation of new indicators. Finally, the process will be tested on a pilot scale, and transposition trials to other meat and seafood products will be carried out with the help of the project’s industrial partners. BLAC HP is thus built on a multi-disciplinary approach that will provide a solid foundation for the understanding and industrial development of the technology.