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By Kate Bertrand Connolly, Packaging Editor | 07/16/2007
Hormel's USDA-approved HPP technology is a post-packaging, water-based pasteurization process. The vacuum-packed products are subjected to 87,000 lbs. per square inch of water pressure that inactivates pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes without harming the product's taste, texture or nutritional value.
Listeria, which can grow even under refrigeration, has been linked to many illness outbreaks caused by deli meats and cold cuts. In 2002, 12 people died and more than 50 others were sickened in a listeriosis outbreak linked to deli turkey.
The HPP process eliminates the need for shelf-life extending preservatives, a key attribute for the Hormel Natural Choice brand. "What makes the products unique is the HPP process — being able to use our TrueTaste technology and deliver that all-natural, no-preservatives, great taste that consumers want," says Ryan Vossler, product manager for Hormel Natural Choice.
HPP pasteurization delivers an operational benefit for retailers and foodservice operators, as well, in the form of shelf life. Declining to quantify the maximum shelf life of Natural Choice products, Vossler says they deliver "much longer shelf life" than competitive items. The Hormel Foodservice Div. (www.hormelfoodservice.com) web site states HPP-treated Hormel Bread Ready meats offer refrigerated shelf life of 120 days.
Hormel was the first national manufacturer in the sliced meat category to commercialize HPP, but others are following suit.
In the all-natural meat category, Wellshire Farms (www.wellshirefarms.com), Swedesboro, N.J., has announced it plans to use HPP for its line of 100% All Natural cold cuts, ham steaks and Canadian bacon. The company reportedly is moving to HPP for reasons of product quality, safety and security, and because the technique does not use chemicals or irradiation.
Another approach to assuring food safety and safeguarding meat's quality is active barrier packaging, such as oxygen scavenging films. This type of material removes residual oxygen from the inside of a package over the course of distribution.
Benefits include "reduced rancidity and color preservation in color-sensitive products like processed ham or rare roast beef," says Cryovac's Franzreb. "In general, you can maintain the freshness of the product throughout the entire shelf life of the product." Plus, oxygen scavenging films retard microbial growth, which provides freshness and safety advantages.
Foster Farms (www.fosterfarms.com), Livingston, Calif., uses an oxygen scavenging Cryovac OS Film to package premium turkey products. The turkey is packaged in a flexible pouch within a rigid plastic tub. The inner pouch is constructed using a lidding film that incorporates the oxygen scavenging material. By removing residual oxygen from the pouch, the package delivers a refrigerated shelf life of 55 days.
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