In past articles I’ve written for Food Quality, I described in detail how intervention biocides can affect food safety from harvest through production.1-2
Intervention strategies have been on a rapid development track during the past decade, with a number of companies not only adopting the strategies in their processing plants but, in many cases, making them integral components of their hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) plans.
In my article “Be Ready to Beat Listeria (Food Quality April/May 2008),” I reviewed the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (USDA FSIS) ready-to-eat (RTE) verification testing program alternatives.2-3 Intervention systems are a critical component in the decision-making process, especially utilizing alternatives one and two for an RTE FSIS operation. My objective is to highlight modalities that have become standard practice in USDA food safety programs (see Table 1).
The key regulatory document to review for many of the USDA FSIS applications for meat and poultry products is FSIS Directive 7120.1 Rev 7, which has the most comprehensive table of safe and suitable ingredients for intervention chemistries that are utilized as acidifiers—some of which overlap into the more important antimicrobial intervention chemistries.3
I have used PAA and acidified sodium chlorite solution as case study examples because I have worked closely with both as approved intervention chemistries for meat and poultry products. These two biocides provide solid efficacy, processing flexibility, and low environmental impact.
The past 10 years has seen an explosion of approvals using either basic organic acids such as acetic, citric, lactic, and a number of permutations of these blended with each other and with various fatty acids, or peracetic acid, also known as peroxyacetic acid (PAA). The latest trend has been to create the kind of synergistic biocidal activity used in FreshRinse, a wash created and patented by Chiquita for use on its Fresh Express produce.
Others include organic acid-salts-citrus extract blends and lauric aringinate (laurimide arginine ethyl ester, or LAE). Lytic phage and bacterial also have emerged as viable modalities. Bacteriophage cocktails have been developed by companies like Intralytix Corp., providing a truly microbial control approach for Listeria monocytogenes (LM) and E. coli 0157:H7 pathogen control, specifically in meat and poultry products. The phage blend is in 21 CFR 172.785, and the recently published FCN 1018 (all food contact notifications [FCNs] can be accessed via the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/fcn–fcnNavigation.cfm?rpt=fcsListing).
Bacterial suspensions such as Carnobacterium maltaromaticum strain CB1 and Lactobacillus-Pediococcus blends are also used for pathogen control.
Biocides as Interventions
A number of biocides have been approved either in CFR, as an FCN, or both for direct application on meat and poultry products that are raw, comminuted, or cooked. Calcium and sodium hypochlorite, cetylpyridinium chloride, and chlorine gas all have CFR approval. Several specific biocides are worthy of note.
I have used PAA and acidified sodium chlorite solution (ACS) as case study examples because I have worked closely with both biocides as approved intervention chemistries for meat and poultry products. Based upon my application experiences, these two biocides as intervention chemistries provide solid efficacy, processing flexibility, and low environmental impact.
Electrolytically generated hypochlorous acid: Known as EO water, it’s an equipment-generating approach to create the biocidally effective hypochlorous acid without using chlorine gas cylinders. It can be utilized for red meat and poultry carcasses, processing waters, and poultry chiller waters (red chiller and makeup), as well as for bird reprocessing. The approved concentration ranges vary from 5 ppm for processing water to 20 ppm for bird reprocessing and 50 ppm for carcass sprays and poultry chiller waters.