A Cured Meat Guide for Everyone

Meat Preserving And Curing Guide

The meat was originally processed to preserve it, but since the different procedures result in many changes in texture and flavor, it is also a way to add variety to the diet. Processing also makes it possible to mix the least desirable parts of the carcass with lean meat and is also a means of prolonging the meat supply by including other foodstuffs such as cereals in the product. extremely perishable product and quickly becomes unfit for consumption. may be hazardous to health due to microbial growth, chemical change and degradation by endogenous enzymes. These processes can be reduced by decreasing the temperature sufficiently to slow or inhibit the growth of microorganisms, by heating to destroy organisms and enzymes (cooking, canning) or by removal of water by drying or osmotic control (by binding water with salt or other substances so that it is no longer available for organizations). It is also possible to use chemicals to curb growth and, very recently, ionizing radiation (the latter possibility is not allowed in some countries, however). Traditional methods used for thousands of years involve drying by wind and sun, salting and smoking. Canning dates back to the beginning of the 19th century and preserves food for many years because it is sterilized and protected from further contamination. Read more here...

Meat Preserving And Curing Guide Summary


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Author: James Cole
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Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Smoked Meats

The PAHs isolated from smoked products are mainly compounds with mol wt less than 216. In smoked meat products, their total mass may be about 30 to 250 times larger than that of BaP, while that of the heavy PAHs about 10 times larger. According to German regulations, which have been in force since 1973, and the Slovakian directive from 1996, the content of BaP in smoked meat products should not exceed 1 ng per g. However, for meat products treated with smoke preparations, the European Union has set an upper limit of 0.03 ng per g (Hartmann, 2000 Simko, 2002). In Germany in the years 1962 to 1991, about 71 of samples of meat products sent by consumers (who suspected the BaP content being too high) for analysis, values did not exceed the limit set for smoked meats. However, in about 1.5 of the investigated samples, high levels of BaP, even as much as 40 ng per g, were found (Potthast, 1992). The range of concentration of BaP in different smoked meat products, including ham, bacon,...

Smoked Fish

Smoked fish contains much more BaP than fresh - about 0.05 to 60 ng per g of product. The BaP levels in smoked fish depend on the contamination and composition of the raw material, parameters of smoking, quality of smoke, and protection of the edible parts by the skin (Petrun and Rubenchik, 1966 Tilgner and Daun, 1969 Wierzchowski and Gajewska, 1972 Steinig and Meyer, 1976 Steinig, 1976 Lawrence and Weber, 1984 Nistor, 1985). Smoked fish

Historical Perspective

Animal and human bodies (mummification). Although early methods were effective, the scientific foundation of these practices was not understood until almost two centuries after van Leeuwenhoek's discovery. Drying and salting fish and meat was one of the earliest food preservation techniques developed. In cold climates, food could also be buried in snow or underground. An early version of surface sterilization was the practice of passing metal objects through fire to clean them. One of the first documented cases of chemical sanitation was practiced as early as 450 bc in the Persian Empire, where boiled water was stored in copper and silver containers. This allowed for a portable water supply that helped the Persian army in many military conquests. Medical applications of chemical sanitation include the use of mercuric chloride as a wound dressing by Arab physicians in the Middle Ages, the use of bleaching powder as a disinfectant by Alcock in 1827, the use of iodine by Davies in 1839,...

Enterotoxins and Food Products

The primary source of staphylococcal food contamination is human. However, cows are an additional source - staphylococci are causative agents of mastitis in cows and so may contaminate dairy products (Ombui et al., 1992). Although staphylococci are frequently present in pets (e.g., in dogs, which may suffer from mouth acne), these animals are not critical vehicles of food contamination. Besides dairy products, staphylococci are also present in almost 30 of raw pork, salted meat, and uncooked smoked ham (Atanassova et al., 2001). Meat is frequently contaminated with S. aureus and may contain high numbers of colony-forming units (cfu) per gram (Surkiewicz et al., 1975). Home-made cakes, creams, and vegetable salads are important vehicles of staphylococci in central Europe.

The nutritional adequacy of irradiated food

Most food preservation and decontamination procedures, including irradiation, cause some loss in the nutritional value of foods. Further losses generally occur during storage and during preparation for consumption (e.g. in cooking). The specific chemical changes brought about in foods by irradiation include some that alter the nutritional value, but the magnitudes of the changes are small when compared with those that result from other procedures currently in use. This has led most expert groups to conclude that reduction in the nutritional quality of foods resulting from the widespread use of irradiation is an insignificant part of the total diet as a whole (Elias and Cohln 1977 Advisory Committee on Irradiated and Novel Foods, 1986). One expert group concluded that 'irradiation of food introduces no special nutritional problems' (World Health Organization, 1981). This conclusion emphasises the word 'special', recognising that there might be particular problems with some individual...

The Effect Of Other Chemical Reactions

In meat curing, nitrite is traditionally used for developing the pink, heat-stable pigment. Its other important role is the inhibition of the outgrowth of Clostridium botulinum spores in pasteurized products and, in some countries, in several types of smoked fish. Nitrite also serves as an antioxidant and contributes positively to the development of the flavor of cured-meat. The undesirable side-effect, however, is the reaction of nitrite with amino groups of food constituents, leading to the formation of NNCs.

High pressure processing in relation to food quality and safety

Possible applications of high pressure for food preservation purposes or for changing the physical and functional properties of foods. The potentials and limitations of high pressure processing in food applications have become more clear. A number of key effects of high pressure on food components have been demonstrated including (i) microorganism inactivation (ii) modification of biopolymers including enzyme activation and inactivation, protein denaturation and gel formation (iii) quality retention (e.g. colour, flavour, nutrition value) and (iv) modification of physicochemical properties of water (Cheftel, 1991 Knorr, 1993). One of the unique characteristics of high pressure is that it directly affects non-covalent bonds (such as hydrogen, ionic, van der Waals and hydrophobic bonds) and very often leaves covalent bonds intact (Hayashi, 1989). As a consequence, it offers the possibility of retaining food quality attributes such as vitamins (Van den Broeck et al, 1998), pigments (Van...

Commercial high pressure treated food products

High pressure technology is unlikely to replace conventional thermal processing, because the second technique is a well-established and relatively cheap food preservation method. Currently, the reported cost range of high pressure processes is 0.1-0.2 per litre (Grant et al, 2000) whereas the cost for thermal treatment may be as low as 0.02-0.04 per litre. However, the technology offers commercially feasible alternatives for conventional heating in the case of novel food products with improved functional properties which cannot be attained by conventional heating.

Types of food additives

Some additives clearly serve an important function. Preservatives help to prevent food from spoiling and enable processed food to be stored for much longer. They reduce the likelihood of bacterial contamination in the food we eat. Sodium nitrite is added to cured meat, for example, to prevent the growth of organisms like Clostridium botulinum, which causes severe toxicity, botulism (see pp. 249-51). Preservatives also reduce chemical degradation and so allow food to have a longer shelf life. Other additives may also have a beneficial function, for example artificial sweeteners reduce the sugar intake of people who suffer from diabetes or obesity.

The expedition that vanished

The provisions for Terror are still on record and included thousands of cans of meat, soup, vegetables, and potatoes. Most of the food they took consisted of flour (30 tonnes), salted meat (14 tonnes), biscuits (7.5 tonnes), sugar (5 tonnes), spirits (2300 gallons), chocolate (2 tonnes), and lemon juice (2 tonnes), and these were regarded as sufficient to supply this ship of 67 men for three years. Were these seamen really victims of the canned foods they had eaten It is quite possible. These were the early days of this kind of food preservation and the process and technology of canning was poorly developed. The first commercial food cannery was that of Messrs Donkin & Hall of Bermondsey, London, and it began to supply the Royal Navy with canned meats, vegetables, and soups from 1812 onwards. Indeed Donkin & Hall's 'Preserved Meat' and 'Vegetable Soup' were part of the provisions of the 1814 expedition to explore Baffin Bay. By 1818 the Admiralty was ordering more than 20 000...

Body Lice

From 1987 to 1992 the government recalled cooked products from 27 firms, including hot dogs, bologna, and other luncheon meat, chicken salad, ham salad, sausages, chicken, sliced turkey breast, and sliced roast beef. Cheese, dairy, sandwich, prepared salad, and smoked fish recalls from 1987 to 1992 included 516 different products from 105 firms.


As stated, poisoning with botulinum often results from contaminated food. Cases have been reported in which the victims ate smoked fish, cheese sauces, and many other food products. Since 1982 botulinum toxin has also been used as a medicinal for the treatment of a variety of musculoskeletal disorders. For example, one patient received regular injections of botulinum toxin into the lacrimal gland to reduce pathological tear secretion. Her profuse tear production had occurred as the aftermath of a viral infection of the eye. The localized paralysis of the lacrimal gland was effective in preventing excessive tears. In cases like this the medication may diffuse away from the injection site. When this happens ptosis and diplopia may result. Not surprisingly, therefore, use of a substance as potent as botulinum toxin, in a therapeutic manner, is not without danger.

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