fermented / dry cured meats

Historical Aspects of Uncooked Fermented Meats

Many experts agree that fermentation and drying are probably the oldest forms of meat preservation (e.g. Bacus, 1984; Smith, 1987; Roca and Incze, 1990). These two processes are mentioned together, because in practice they are impossible to separate. Further, the smoking process is also considered at least as old a preservation method as drying.

These preservation methods are several thousands of years old. Smith (1987), thus makes reference to Homer’s Odyssey, ca. 900 BC, and sausages of the old Roman Empire.

Many historians agree that ‘sausage’ is an ancient word in many languages. For example, Wurst is an Indo-Germanic word, probably derived from Latin, meaning ‘to turn’ or ‘to twist’. Sausage is also well-known as Kolbasa in Slavic, derived from Hebrew, meaning ‘all kinds of meats’.

Even so, the origin of the word salami still seems uncertain. Most authors, such as Leistner (1986a) say that it is derived from Latin, simply meaning ‘salt’, whereas Bacus (1984) claims that it is derived from the name of the city Salamis on Cyprus.

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Important Validation Considerations

The validation process for uncooked fermented / dry-cured meats involves the collection of all relevant process data (e.g., pH, Aw, Temperature, Relative Humidity, degree-hours). A successful validation study needs to include a detailed description of the worst-case-scenario for the product/s under evaluation. Product/s should be selected on the basis of grind size, caliber, starter culture, substrate, initial microbial load from ingredients, cold-spots in fermentation rooms (i.e., zone where product has the slowest fermentation rate, or pH drop), ‘wettest-spots’ in drying rooms (i.e., slowest drying rates).

In addition to the above considerations, any processors wishing to export to the US are required to demonstrate that the existing process is capable of attaining a minimum 5-Log reduction in both Salmonella spp., and E. coli O157:H7 (for meat products containing beef).

Per FSIS HACCP Validation Guidelines, ‘In-Plant’ data should be collected through an inoculation study. However, since a pathogen such as Salmonella would be too dangerous to be introduced into any meat processing plant, the use of surrogate organisms is highly recommended and is also found acceptable by FSIS.

Understanding Hazards and Control Measures

What is meant by a ‘5-Log Reduction’ ?

As a simple example, if an initial product batter starts with approximately 1,000,000 cells/gram (or 10^6 CFUs/g), the requirement is that the combination of product composition with acceptable processing parameters must be able to decrease those numbers to 10 cells/gram (or 10^1 CFUs/g), by the end of the process (e.g., usually drying). So the ‘5-Logs’ is basically the difference of the exponents (base 10) between the initial and final cell counts/gram of product. Under the current regulatory framework, the following hazards have been identified as a public concern:

1. Salmonella spp., & E. coli O157:H7 (products containing beef)

Under Canadian regulations, processors are allowed to use pH and Aw (independently or in combination). There is no actual ‘prescribed’ regulatory standard such as a ‘5-Log reduction’ . However, the 5-Log reduction does become a regulatory performance standard required for US exports.

2. Listeria monocytogenes

Under Canadian regulations (Health Canada’s Policy on Listeria monocytogenes in RTE Foods), processors are allowed to sell these products, provided that the product does not exceed a count greater than 100 CFUs/g during its usable shelf-life. This is monitored regularly through CFIA’s mandated testing of RTE products (i.e., CFIA Category 2B).

Daniel Dorigiola

Co-Owner / QA Manager – Venetian Meat and Salami Co. Ltd., Hamilton, Ontario

“We have used the services from Quantum Food Solutions for a number of years to help us manage our written food safety program and validate our food safety controls (e.g., cooking, cooling, fermented/dry-cured products). We are very pleased with their practical approach to resolving issues and finding opportunities for process improvement. We certainly appreciate the high level of service they continue to provide our company and highly recommend their services”.

Pawel Zwerello

HACCP Coordinator, Sikorski Sausages, London, Ontario

“Renzo is very knowledgeable in Food Sciences, and we hired him as a process authority to help us approve a custom process, which received ‘no objection’ from CFIA. Renzo works in an efficient, professional and timely manner. We look forward to working with Renzo in the future, and have no reservations on recommending him to others looking to improve their processes and take their Food Safety to the next level. Thanks Quantum!”

Marius Kamerbeek

Plant Manager, Erie Meats, Listowel, Ontario

“We manufacture cooked meat and poultry products at our federal facility. We hired Quantum to evaluate our cooking processes including our smokehouses and spiral oven. We appreciate their high quality of service that has enabled us to comply with CFIA and FSIS requirements. We certainly recommend their services.”

Pete Holowachuk

Quality Manager, Winkler Meats Ltd., Winkler, Manitoba.

“We are a CFIA inspected plant certificated to the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety. Renzo came to us highly recommended and we have contracted him on multiple occasions to validate our cooking and chilling processes. He uses a practical approach and specialized tools that allow him to provide a fairly comprehensive service. We look forward to working with him again and definitely recommend him to anyone looking for a robust, yet affordable food safety service.”

Stefan Cartmale

General Manager, Bright Cheese Ltd., Bright, Ontario.

“Thank you Quantum for all of the work to help us attain BRC certification. It has been one of the most rewarding achievements of my lifetime and I am so proud that we were able to achieve the BRC AA rating! By doing so, it has opened many new doors for us and also enable us to expand and continue to grow our business. We definitely recommend Quantum’s food safety services.”

Ramon Eberle

Plant Manager, Stonetown Artisan Cheese Ltd., St. Marys, Ontario.

This is to acknowledge that Renzo Gomez from Quantum Food Solutions facilitated the
installation of a solid HACCP plan, which allowed us to reach our goal of becoming federally licensed with CFIA. Thanks to our upgraded food safety standards, we were able to get in to business with Farm Boy and sell our product in new markets outside of Ontario. His service is affordably priced, very streamlined and his communication is honest and straight forward. It was a pleasure to work with Renzo Gomez and we are looking forward to work with him again in the future”

Julia Banton

Vice President of Operations, Kitchen Partners Limited, Edmonton, Alberta.

“Renzo has a wealth of knowledge, whilst maintaining a logical and common sense outlook to the tasks ahead. His approach is unique to that of other consultants I have worked with, in that he is pragmatic and makes light work of global codes/standards. We definitely look forward to continuing to work together and highly recommend Quantum to anyone looking to upgrade their food safety and quality systems.”

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