UW scientists team with meat industry to provide food safety solution


Source: UW–Madison Food Research Institute

via Wisconsin State Farmer - Oct 12, 2021


Foodborne pathogens are often difficult to control during food production. Salmonella, which causes over 1 million illnesses in the U.S. each year, is particularly nefarious. It can cleverly adapt to its environment to survive under extreme circumstances. In low-moisture conditions, for instance, Salmonella becomes even better at withstanding heat, creating a food safety hazard for meat and poultry products cooked in dry-heat conditions.


To help mitigate this issue, the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2017 updated its industry guidance in Appendix A. According to the new guidance, a 90% humidity level must be maintained during meat and poultry cooking processes that take less than one hour to ensure product safety.


Meeting this new guideline presented a problem for many processors: Smaller-sized meat and poultry products like chicken nuggets and beef patties often are cooked for short times at high temperatures using an impingement oven, a continuous cooking system driven via conveyor belt.


When Salmonella are exposed to these dry-heat methods, the bacteria dessicate, or dry out, which makes them more heat tolerant and better able to survive the high temperatures.


Processors needed a way to ensure the inactivation of Salmonella in their products without having to replace their existing impingement ovens, which are large and expensive pieces of equipment.


A team of UW–Madison researchers...