The microbiological and sensory attributes of vacuum-packed emu meat in a retail case



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Texas Tech University


Over the years, the meat industry has continuously encountered the obstacle of microorganisms as agents of foodbome illness and product spoilage. With the increased media attention and heightened consumer awareness of food safety issues, industry and researchers must largely focus their efiforts on providing a consistently high quality, safe product. Consumers caimot base their perception of meat quality in the retail case directiy on the presence of microorganisms because these organisms are not visible to the naked eye. Instead, the appearance of the product with respect to color, texture and odor is used to judge quahty (Manu-Tawiah et al., 1991; Ingram and Simonsen, 1980; Clydesdale, 1984). These three characteristics are greatiy affected by the deterioration and spoilage of refiigerated fresh meat products which are predominantly due to the metabohc activity of psychrotrophic bacteria (Ingram and Dainty, 1971; Dainty et al., 1975; Walters, 1975). These bacteria break down structural proteins and cause surface discoloration, produce ofif-odors, and in late stages of spoilage, cause the formation of slime on the meat surface. The oxidation of lipids present in meat which is manifested through the production of ofif-odors and flavors also plays a significant role in the spoilage and unacceptabihty of meat products (Gray, 1978). Unfortunately, the ability to eradicate these problems does not currently exist, so the meat industry must address the development of effective processing, packaging and storage methods that work to retard these actions. One notable advance now widely used is the vacuum-packaging of fresh meat products. Several studies have reported that vacuum-packaging is a technique effective in delaying the growth of bacteria and slowing lipid oxidation (Genigeorgis, 1985; Baran et al., 1969; Hodges et al., 1974; Pierson et al., 1970). This ultimately leads to an extension of product shelf-life and marketing range.

Beef is unquestionably a popular staple of the human diet. But, many consumers are open to a novelty such as emu, especially when it is lean and low in fat. As the emu industry moves to find a niche in the commercial meat market, it is essential that information is accessible regarding the microbiological profile and caselife stability of the product.

This study was conducted to provide foundational data on the microbial populations of emu carcasses and to assess the retail caselife of vacuumpackaged emu meat.



Food, Emus, Meat