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A novel packaging system for meat safety and shelf-life extension (MEATPACK)
Start date: Dec 1, 2013, End date: Nov 30, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Meat and poultry products are vehicles for millions of cases of foodborne illness globally each year. Controlling pathogens such as campylobacter, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, and Yersinia enterocolitica, is a primary goal for industry. Additionally, processors are constantly striving to lengthen product shelf life. However, consumer aversion to traditional chemical preservatives has left processors with less flexibility in choosing preservation methods. This has opened up a technological gap where process innovation is required and a major business opportunity presents itself for the development of a non-thermal, novel food preservation system to control foodborne pathogens associated with meat and poultry.This project will develop a continuous in-package decontamination and shelf-life extension system for meat based on Non-thermal plasma (NTP), offering antimicrobial efficacy without the use of chemical sanitizers and which is non-invasive, leaves zero residues and does not adversely affect product quality. Preliminary studies with NPT on meat products, point to rapid inactivation of pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms associated with meat, resulting in significant extensions of shelf-life (an additional 5 days). A laboratory test-rig system will be optimised for its antimicrobial efficacy for in-package decontamination of both red and white meats. Shelf life extension, along with organoleptic and nutritional properties of treated meat will be evaluated. The results will then be scaled up to pre-commercial level and validated in the industry paving the way forward for rapid post-project industrialisation.A critical advantage of this world-first technology for the meat industry is the In-package treatment, which is desired by the food industry as this approach mitigates against recontamination and provides increased shelf-life.

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