lunes, 3 de junio de 2013
Processing Aids Used to Deliver Food Safety
Processing aids are not considered ingredients, however, and therefore are not required to be listed on ingredient lists on nutrition labels.
Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture approve processing aids for foods ranging from meat and poultry to other food products. They are not supposed to change the appearance or taste of the product in any way and, more importantly, they cannot negatively impact food safety or public health
Anything added to food, including processing agents, is regulated as a food additive. That means the processing agent must be “generally recognized as safe,” or GRAS, in order to be approved for use in foods. Food additives and processing agents are either on the GRAS list because of their history of safety, or because companies who use them have gone through scientific processes to prove their safety.
Both agencies recognize three types of processing aids: those that are used and removed, those that are converted into components that naturally occur at insignificant levels without changing the finished product, and some that remain in food at low levels without any technical or functional effect.
Not all processing aids are as complicated as BPI’s ammonia process or transglutaminase. Take hot water and steam, for example. Thermal processing of beef carcasses using hot water and/or steam is a processing aid that’s been highly effective in reducing E. coli O157:H7 and other pathogens, according to Janet Riley at the American Meat Institute. Hot water and steam leave no residues and have no lasting effect on the product.
The use of high-pressure washes in ready-to-eat lunchmeats and hot dogs has virtually eliminated the Listeria monocytogenes, in these products. As recently as the late 1980s, Listeria seemed to some to be an insolvable problem for the ready-to-eat products.
Killing antimicrobials is just one of the functions processing aids play during the food production process. Others include removing impurities, preventing crystallization, controlling pH levels, controlling bacteria in chill water, scalding agents that remove feathers, and others.
Not every solution can be applied to every product, however. For example, restrictions on Kosher and Halal meats dictate that thermal processes cannot be used. And processing aids that are effective on one pathogen strain might not work on another. That’s something researchers are dealing with now, as there are six strains of E. coli that have recently been banned from beef, in addition to E. coli O157:H7, which has been banned since 1993.