Antioxidant incorporation influences the shelf-life and quality of overwrap packaged ground beef stored in a high-oxygen master package before retail display



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Limited information regarding the use of master packaging systems containing high-oxygen (Hi-Ox) environments is available; furthermore, the efficacy of antioxidants in this system is unknown. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of antioxidant usage and storage parameters on the shelf-life and quality traits of overwrapped ground beef stored in a Hi-Ox master package. Finely ground beef (81% lean, 19% fat) was portioned into loaves and left untreated (CON) or topically sprayed with a blend of natural antioxidants (AOX). Packages from both treatment groups were overwrapped with polyvinyl chloride film, placed in master packages sealed with a mixture of 80% O2 and 20% CO2, and stored (2 to 4°C) for 5, 8, 10, 12, or 15 d prior to 5 d of lighted, refrigerated, retail display. Objective color stability, shelf-life characteristics, and palatability were assessed after 0, 3, and 5 d of display. Subjective lean color and instrument color (L*, a*, b*) were measured daily. As expected, subjective and objective color measurements indicated ground beef color stability decreased (P < 0.05) as storage and retail display length increased. Antioxidant application generally resulted in a delayed loss of lean redness when compared to CON ground beef; however, after 5 d of retail display, no differences (P > 0.05) in color were observed between AOX and CON. While all values indicated discoloration with display, AOX packages maintained superior redness (increased a*, saturation index, and oxymyoglobin concentration; P < 0.05) when compared to CON packages after 8, 10, 12, and 15 d of display. Subjective palatability evaluations indicated less desirable flavor (P = 0.06) as storage and display lengthened. Overall, these data indicate that while storage and display propagate the deterioration of ground beef color and quality, color stability in a Hi-Ox master packaging system can be improved using an antioxidant blend.



Antioxidants, Beef, Color stability, Master package, Shelf-life