Preservation by pickling has been used for many years to extend the shelf life of various types of food products. By storing meat products in a brine solution containing an organic acid, salt, spices, as well as other preservatives, the pH of the product is reduced, thus increasing the safety and shelf life of the product. Pickling may involve the use of heated brines to further add to the safety of the food product. When precooked, ready-to-eat (RTE) sausages are pickled with a heated brine solution, the process is referred to as hot filling. However, hot filling has been shown to affect the clarity of the brine, making the product cloudy and unappealing to consumers. Because of the potential quality defects caused by higher temperatures associated with hot fill pickling, cold fill pickling, which uses room temperature brine, is preferred by some pickled sausage manufacturers. Because little information exists on the safety of cold fill, pickled sausages, a challenge study was designed using a brine solution (5% acetic acid and 5% salt at 25°C) to pickle precooked, RTE sausages inoculated with a pathogen cocktail consisting of Salmonella Typhimurium, Salmonella Senftenberg, Salmonella Montevideo, Listeria monocytogenes, and Staphylococcus aureus. All pathogens were reduced ∼6.80 log CFU/g in 72 h when enumerated on nonselective media. On selective media, Salmonella and L. monocytogenes decreased 6.33 and 6.35 log CFU/g in 12 h, respectively whereas S. aureus was reduced 6.80 log CFU/g in 24 h. Sausages experienced significant (P ≤ 0.05) decreases in pH over the 28 days of storage, whereas no significant differences were observed in water activity (P = 0.1291) or salt concentration of the sausages (P = 0.1445) or brine (P = 0.3180). The results of this experiment demonstrate that cold fill pickling can effectively reduce and inhibit bacterial pathogens.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science