New Ingredient Tools Put Safety in Foodservice

Processors must step up sanitation efforts when providing minimally processed foods.

By Frances Katz, Senior Technical Editor

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According to President Gregory West, the pasteurization process kills all strains of Salmonella including Salmonella enteritidis bacteria, which according to the FDA is found in one out of every 20,000 eggs and causes a reported 1.4 million illnesses per year in the U.S. This process is extremely cost-effective and delivers total product consistency, meeting all FDA standards. The eggs vary in price according to size, but generally they cost 3-5 cents more each. National Pasteurized Eggs’ unique technology is the only one capable of pasteurizing large quantities and all sizes of shell eggs to exacting FDA requirements, West says.

Egg consumption is making a comeback. Plus, the demographics of heavier egg-eaters make such a safe product especially important. “Older customers eat 61 percent of the eggs served for breakfast.” Salmonella is especially dangerous to the older population, the very young and those who are ill or otherwise immune-compromised.

“The pasteurized egg is especially good for older eaters: the liquid yolk in a sunny-side up egg, when eaten with toast, is something they are accustomed to and it reminds them of childhood,” adds West. The “raw” safe egg also is handy in Caesar salad, tiramisu and in Eggs Benedict and other forms of poached eggs.

New concern for flock safety also has reduced the bacterial burden. National Pasteurized Eggs has contracts with specific farmers for certain flocks of birds, and identifies feed sources (no animal by-products, vegetarian feed) so the eggs are Kosher (circle U on the package).

Of course it’s timely that the egg has been restored to its position as king of the breakfast menu. The small amount of fat and high amounts of folic acid and other nutrients have brought eggs back to the mainstream.

Oysters are another product many restaurants stopped using a few years ago because of food safety concerns, but new techniques and careful quality control are leading to a resurgence. AmeriPure Oyster Co. (www.ameripure.com), Franklin, La., produces oysters that are cold pasteurized, according to spokesperson Billy Thompson. Vibrio can flourish at extremely high levels in warmer waters, such as the Gulf of Mexico. Vibrio vulnificus is potentially fatal to persons with weakened immune systems and Vibrio parahaemolyticus can cause gastrointestinal illness in perfectly healthy consumers who eat shellfish with sufficient levels of the bacterium.

The AmeriPure Process was invented as a product-specific solution to the problems of increased regulation and eroding public confidence in Gulf Coast oysters. Louisiana State University's Food Science Dept. furthered the research. The process is so effective the State of Louisiana dropped its mandatory retail warning sign requirement for establishments that serve raw oysters that have undergone the treatment. The State of California enacted a similar exemption.

Thompson says the southern oyster is now shipped all over the U.S., and has doubled or tripled shipment since the beginning of business. “The oyster stays nice and juicy, tastes salty and stays safe, as it doesn’t open (thanks to a banding process) until you want it to.” The absence of northern oysters has made the southern product more popular, as disease (not vibrio) has hit the Blue Point trade, although the northern oyster is coming back.

Deli meats and sausages, long worrisome potential sources of contamination, have given rise to a number of antibacterials.
Deli case

Deli meats and sausages, long worrisome potential sources of contamination, have given rise to a number of antibacterials. One of the latest is called Mirenat-N, a solution of lauric arginate, a novel antimicrobial compound derivative of lauric acid, larginine and ethanol, all naturally occurring substances.

The molecule was first synthesized by the CSIC (Higher Council of Scientific Research) in Barcelona in 1984, then patented and commercialized by the Vedeqsa Lamirsa Group. Its U.S. distributor is A&B Ingredients (www.abingredients.com), Fairfield, N.J.

Its most notable features are a broad spectrum of antimicrobial efficacy; high partition coefficient (meaning the product concentrates in the water phase of products, where most bacterial action occurs); activity over a wide pH range (3 to 7); and safety — LAE is hydrolyzed in the human body and it has GRAS status.

A much lower amount of Mirenat-N is needed, compared to conventional anti-microbials, so it has little effect on the taste and texture of the original product, company officials say. It is effective in controlling a wide range of micro-organisms including Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, E. coli, Lactobacillus, Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans and numerous other pathogens, bacteria, molds and yeast.

“Public health officials estimate there are as many as 100 million cases of food-borne illness each year, with up to 10,000 deaths,” says Gil Bakal, managing director of A&B Ingredients. “The FDA and USDA have identified the development of new, safe, effective anti-microbial products as one of the keys to reducing the prevalence of food-borne illness and disease.”
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