Within the group of cooked meat products, the pathogenic microorganisms that cause the most concern for food poisoning due to their consumption are: Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella spp., Campylobacter, Escherichia coli (E. coli).
To control them, it is key to control the critical points in their production (handling of raw materials, inactivation/elimination mechanisms, slicing operations and re-contamination). To do this, food industries follow different hygiene and handling practices. However, as an alternative or supplementary measure to all these control measures, non-thermal technologies can be used, highlighting among them high pressure processing.
In cooked ham, high pressure treatment is very effective because it allows the growth of spoilage microorganisms to be delayed/prevented, maintaining the counts considered adequate (<104 CFU/g) for 60 days and values acceptable (< 106 CFU/g) at least up to 90 days of conservation of the product, maintaining its characteristics of flavor, smell, texture and nutritional value.
Regarding pathogenic microorganisms (Enterobacteria, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Campylobacter, Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella spp) they remain below the detection limit or their presence is not detected during 120 days of shelf life.
Thanks to the increased shelf life, new markets can be reached, new products launched and returns reduced. Furthermore, with the application of the HPP, border restrictions are reduced, complying with the requirement of zero tolerance of Listeria from countries like the United States.
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