Clean-Labelled Fresh Ground Meat Shelf Life Improvement

Clean-Labelled Fresh Ground Meat Shelf Life Improvement

In the highly competitive and price-sensitive world of fresh ground meat, shelf life can be crucial for profits. One or two extra days without unsightly browning can be the difference between a sale and a return to the manufacturer.  Raw meat quality, clean processing and controlled atmosphere packaging remain keys to maintaining a good fresh appearance in retail tray-displayed ground meats. The question arises about how to provide a safe and acceptable hurdle to improve shelf life and yet meet the clean label requirements of today’s consumer?

Clean Label Alternative Ingredients

The possible answer may lie in clean label ingredients from natural sources like Rosemary, Acerola (Cherry), and Green Tea with antioxidant color retention effect being added to fresh ground meats during processing. Rosemary extracts are widely accepted commercially to improve shelf life in ground poultry. Rosemary naturally contains rosmarinic and carnosic acids which are responsible for the longer shelf life antioxidant effect without the characteristic rosemary flavor. The organic acids (mostly ascorbic acid) present in Acerola Cherry juice powder provides oxygen-scavenging properties that protect meat pigments from the color change caused by oxidation. Green tea extracts have been commercially developed over that past 10 years based on water extractable polyphenols in fresh green tea leaves. Similar to green tea extracts, many other spice and fruits are sources of organic acids and naturally-occurring compounds like polyphenols with known protective effects useful in maintaining freshness. Commercially, suppliers are providing combined blends of these natural antioxidants and measuring their potency. These blends have been tested to be efficacious in retaining the bright red meat color in beef at usage levels as low as 0.2% to 0.5%

In considering these alternative clean-labelled ingredients cost, flavor and efficacy and label recommendations must be considered. A 2015 Nielsen-Perishable Group study concluded that “Consumers will to pay more for cleaner labels-up to 70 cents (per pound) for fresh ground beef.”  Naturally-sourced clean-labelled shelf life improving ingredients will definitely play an exciting role in this very current development.

For more information about this opportunity, contact your SPI Group sales manager and get more literature, shelf life study results and samples.