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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5713/ajas.17.0675    [Accepted] Published online March 13, 2018.
Microbiological Safety of Processed Meat Products Formulated with Low Nitrite Concentration: A Mini Review
Soomin Lee1, Heeyoung Lee1, Sejeong Kim1, Jeeyeon Lee1, Jimyeong Ha1, Yukyung Choi1, Hyemin Oh1, Kyoung-Hee Choi2, Yohan Yoon1,*
1Sookmyung Women’s University, Seoul, Korea
2Wonkwang University, Iksan, Korea
Correspondence:  Yohan Yoon, Tel: +82-2-2077-7585, Fax: +82-2-710-9479, Email: yyoon@sm.ac.kr
Received: 11 September 2017   • Revised: 27 October 2017   • Accepted: 5 March 2018
Abstract
Nitrite plays a major role in inhibiting the growth of foodborne pathogens, including Clostridium botulinum that causes botulism, a life-threatening disease. Nitrite serves as a color-fixing agent in processed meat products. However, N-nitroso compounds can be produced from nitrite. They are considered as carcinogens. Thus, consumers desire processed meat products that contain lower concentrations (below conventional concentrations of products) of nitrite or no nitrite at all, although the portion of nitrite intake by processed meat consumption in total nitrite intake is very low. However, lower nitrite levels might expose consumers to risk of botulism poisoning due to C. botulinum or illness caused by other foodborne pathogens. Hence, lower nitrite concentrations in combination with other factors such as low pH, high NaCl level, and others have been recommended to decrease the risk of food poisoning. In addition, natural compounds that can inhibit bacterial growth and function as color-fixing agents have been developed to replace nitrite in processed meat products. However, their antibotulinal effects have not been fully clarified. Therefore, to have processed meat products with lower nitrite concentrations, low pH, high NaCl concentration, and others should also be applied together. Before using natural compounds as replacement of nitrite, their antibotulinal activities should be examined.
Keywords: Processed meat; nitrite; microbial safety; substitute
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