Oscar Mayer Selects hot dogs, clean label, Kraft Heinz
The reformulation of the Kraft Heinz Oscar Mayer hot dog brand to achieve a clean label profile took more than a year.

Ingredient options abound

Nitrates and nitrites contribute flavor and color, while also preventing growth of the pathogen Clostridium botulinum. Clean label alternatives to pure nitrates and nitrites are ingredients that are inherently concentrated sources of the functionally active compounds. Celery and spinach both contain nitrates. Celery juice, as a liquid or dried into a powder, specifically, has been shown to be effective in controlling bacterial growth.

Fruit and spice extract blends also control pathogenic and spoilage microbial growth while contributing the desirable cured color and flavor to uncured labeled cooked meats. Such blends allow for no-to-low residual nitrates or nitrites in the finished product. Some natural plant extract blends come combined with citrus fiber, which is a clean label alternative to sodium phosphate, another common ingredient in ready-to-eat meats.

Phosphates historically have been used to assist with retaining the tenderness of products after thermal processing. Clean label options include various hydrocolloids, such as fibers, gums, proteins and starches. The ingredients may provide firmness and succulence with purge reduction. They may assist with forming and shaping, all while improving yield.

Dried plums
 Dried plums have been shown to effectively bind moisture in animal proteins.

Gelatin is a type of protein that binds water. It is only permitted in select meat and poultry products, including sausage, luncheon meat and canned hams. Gelatin is a familiar, natural ingredient and complements clean label trends.

Another option is dried plums, which have been shown to effectively bind moisture in animal proteins. They also contribute sensory improvements that achieve true protein flavor, juiciness, texture and eating quality.

Innovation on display

During the Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting and Food Expo, to be held June 25-28 in Las Vegas, several suppliers will be exhibiting ingredient innovations designed to give processed meat a cleaner label. Corbion, Lenexa, Kas., for example will be exhibiting its Verdad Opti Powder N70 for uncured meats. The ingredient is an antimicrobial designed to deliverListeria control and shelf life in powder format, according to the company. It offers 35% less sodium and has the attributes of clean, natural labeling options. At the exposition, the company also will be introducing its updatedListeria Control Model that is designed to help all processed food manufacturers predictListeria growth while improving speed to market.

Listeria control is a primary consideration when reformulating processed meats.

“Corbion solutions focus on that place where consumer wants and manufacturer needs align,” said Ruud Peerbooms, senior vice-president of food. “When we help our customers deliver fresh, safe, delicious foods that make the consumer happy every time, we’re also helping them build consumer loyalty and reduce waste-associated costs. There is an incredible degree of knowledge, experience and dedication that goes into making that possible, and we’re excited to share it with IFT17 attendees.”

Naturex, South Hackensack, N.J., will be exhibiting its Cleanatis range of antimicrobials for processed meat formulations. Available in two varieties, M1 and M2, the ingredients have proven to be effective againstListeria and Salmonella, according to the company. In tests, the M1 variety was shown to inhibitListeria in ground meat applications. The M2 variety was shown to be effective against Salmonella. The company added that both varieties had no effect on color or taste.

“Many consumers are no longer willing to accept products that contain ingredients that sound like they are from a chemistry set,” said Catherine Bayard, category manager of food preservation for Naturex. “Increasingly, this trend is taking hold in the meat industry, which has previously presented a huge challenge.

Deli meats
Product developers must maintain safety and preserve shelf life when reformulating processed meats.

“For safety reasons, antimicrobials are a necessity, but the natural alternatives available until now have been inadequate. Cleanatis M1 and M2 completely change all that. They offer meat producers a genuinely effective natural solution to help prevent product spoilage, but without the drawbacks of existing natural antimicrobials, which often have a major impact on the organoleptic properties of the end-product.”

This past December, Kemin Industries, Des Moines, Iowa, introduced its Bactocease NV OR liquid, which is a buffered vinegar solution for meat and poultry applications. The ingredient is certified organic and has been shown to be effective in extending the shelf life and controlling such pathogens asListeria in fresh and ready-to-eat meat and poultry products, according to the company.