The microbial spoilage of many food items, including meat and meat products, often depends on the bacterial diversity and count during storage. The level of bacteria is a very important parameter, but knowing the composition (identity of bacteria) is even more relevant to establish a quality and safety profile of your product. If conventional microbiology, as recommended by food safety authorities, is used to assess the quality and safety of meat, the shelf life of meat products may be underestimated.
For instance, you may find a high bacterial content in your meat product after a few days of storage or at the end of its shelf life (10 days), however, this is not proof that your product is not consumable. If you can demonstrate by using an accurate and recognized technology, that the microbial flora of the product is not composed by unwanted bacteria (spoilage bacteria or bacteria causing safety risks), the shelf life does not need to be limited to this duration.
The Metagenomics technique, a modern tool for food quality and safety monitoring, can help the meat industry to prove that the shelf life can be extended to more than 10 days. This semi-quantitative technique allows a precise identification of the majority of microorganisms present in the product (microbial fingerprint). This is done by combining DNA amplification (targeting the 16SrDNA gene which is common to all bacteria), high-throughput sequencing technology, and bioinformatics.
Thanks to the information provided by Metagenomics, the meat sector will have valuable information on the microbial composition of meats and will be able to control the microbiological quality of their products by influencing the growth of positive bacteria. It is crucial for the meat industry to have the opportunity to proof bacterial stability, i.e., bacteria not causing unwanted phenomena, even if the overall quantity of bacteria raises in the meat product.
Metagenomics is offered by FoodChainID and already used for confidential projects in meat shelf life extension. This technology will have a significant impact in reducing or avoiding food waste. Contact us for more information.
Posted on 8 September 2020