Cured Meat

A popular snack or sandwich ingredient, cured meat is a meat that has been preserved through ageing, drying, canning, salting, brining or smoking. Curing the meat not only slows spoilage, it also adds flavour and texture. 

Cured meats can include salami, jerky, biltong, chorizo and more. Because of its status as a “ready to eat snack” there are extensive risks from pathogens and micro-organisms with the preparation and sale of cured meats, with this in mind quality control procedures need to be very stringent. 

Enhance the shelf-life of your Packaged Cured Meats with Gas Flushing 
Meat producers and processors deal with a wide array of nutritional, authentication, and safety challenges. They need to quickly analyse meat to determine whether it meets exacting specifications. By analysing fat, moisture, ash, protein, and collagen, manufacturers can modify meat toughness, texture, and more. With the correct analysis, meat can be segregated by quality to optimise profitability and develop more consistent products.

Mätt Solutions offers a specialist range of instruments that can verify the quality of fresh as well as value added meat products such as cold cuts, minced meats, salami, jerky or biltong. 


What is the fastest and most accurate way to measure meat for protein, fat, moisture and ash?

Near Infra-Red (NIR) Instruments can perform compositional analysis offline in 6 seconds using the PerkinElmer Perkin Elmer DA7250 or inline (in pipe with DA7350 or over belt with DA7440) NIR instruments can measure fat, protein, moisture, collagen, and more, simultaneously, in seconds. 

How do I test for performance of binders and fillers?

Binders and fillers can be tested on the Rapid Visco Analyzer™ (RVA) which precisely controls the temperature of a sample while testing its rheological properties.

How can I test meat pH without grinding it?

pH Level is considered a critical safety and quality measure of cured meat products (salami in particular). Monitoring and checking the pH of a solid using a spear pH meter can be a big aid in ensuring that all the required quality control points are met. Mätt Solutions has a variety of instruments available, both for at line use and in the lab.  This includes an Ionode pH spear that is particularly suited to testing solids and semi solids. Also on offer is a wide range of Hanna pH meters, Horiba pH meters and Eutech pH meters, ranging from the simple Horiba Laqua Twin pH pen to those with BNC connectors and specialised probes. 

What is the best method to test water activity of cured or dried meat products?

Meter Food USA are considered the world leaders in water activity and moisture. The primary method dew point water activity meters like the Aqualab 4TE and Aqualab TDL2 for samples with volatiles are the industry standard for ensuring dried jerky or biltong is under the critical water activity of 0.85 @ 25°C for microbial stability. The entry level solution comes in the Aqualab PawKit, used as a verification tool and by smaller manufacturers. Meter now also offers “1 minute water activity” analysis in the form of the Aqualab 3 (AQ3) – which has a web-based application that helps track, predict and manage a wide variety of QC (Quality Control) parameters for dried meat production. 

Meat Inspectors expect to see water activity as a critical control point (CCP) in HACCP plans, typically during drying and packaging. A water activity below 0.85 @ 25°C is a regulatory requirement for a shelf stable HACCP model

Is there a way to efficiently monitor and data log the full freezer - chiller – drying (curing) - packing process?

Real time monitoring of the freezer, chiller and drying process is key to ensuring safe production while maintaining optimal water activity and avoiding over drying. Efficiency is key in terms of saving on power consumption and reducing run time while getting the best quality with the correct water activity. Monnit have a range of temperature, humidity and “more” (up to 85 other sensors) that enable accurate monitoring of the freezer - chilling and drying (curing) rooms with real time alarms in the form of emails or phone alerts.

Can packaging extend shelf-life of ready-to-eat meat products?

Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP)/gas flushing is often used to extend the shelf-life of products without the addition of preservatives. For this to be successful the MAP gas (O2, CO2, N2 or Ar) needs to be maintained at the right level from initial packaging through to consumption by the customer. The package must not have leaks and the packaging material has to have the right permeability properties. 

Mätt Solutions, as a specialist in MAP, have the right solutions to test and verify not only that the gas mix ratio going into the packages is correct, but that this mix is maintained throughout the shelf-life of ready-to-eat meat products.  The AMETEK MOCON range of gas mixers like the MapMix Provectus, head space analysers like the CheckMate 3 and leak detection instruments like the LeakPointer3 allow control and monitoring of the gas composition and leak detection needed for shelf stability of meat products. 

The Dansensor CheckPoint 3 (portable at line) and Dansensor Checkmate 3 (desktop) O2/CO2 analysers can be paired with non-destructive (packages can be sold after leak tests are performed) leak detection. This comes in the form of the Dansensor LeakPointer 3 to provide the quality control needed to confidently release products to market. Another option for leak detection is the Haug Waterbath.  The big advantage of a water-bath is that the site of the leak can be seen, helping in the diagnosis and troubleshooting of any issues in the packing process.  However, the negative aspect of the water-bath option is that it is considered a destructive method (packages tested cannot be sold).

How clean is clean? Swabbing, pathogens and cleanliness validation

For product safety, it is critical to ensure that cleaning is carried out correctly and that there is no chance of cross contamination or microbial growth. A good sampling regime with a product such as Eurofins PureBlu Swab Sampler and Eurofins Ezy-Reach Sponge sampler is essential, both of which offer a 72-hour viability post sampling for testing of microbial growth. 
Complementing these products is a wide range of Rapid Listeria Monocytogenes Detection Solutions. The Solus Listeria monocytogenes ELISA test kit provides laboratories with an easy-to-use, cost-effective, highly efficient method for the detection of Listeria monocytogenes in food and environmental samples. Eurofins Technologies also have the BACGene Listeria technology which is a 24-hour PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) detection method for Listeria species including Listeria monocytogenes that can be used on all food products and environmental samples.

Is there a fast way to perform shelf-life testing / verification on ready-to-eat meat products?

Mätt Solutions offers shelf-life testing services that look at the product's "complete picture", considering all its aspects to determine when and what ends ready-to-eat meat products’ shelf-life. Packaging provides protection from extremes in light, temperature, humidity and oxygen all of which will reduce shelf-life if not controlled. To perform an accurate shelf-life test, it is imperative to expose the product to different conditions to know when and why it fails. Mätt Solutions have a wide selection of chambers and simulation set-ups to test these extremes and help determine the shelf-life and durability of ready-to-eat meat products by offering both accelerated and real time shelf-life studies as applicable. At the end of the trial, a comprehensive report is provided that states the actual shelf-life of the product, outlines reasons for failure and in most cases, recommends ways to improve. This report tends to be a requirement by most supermarket chains and is well received by auditors and MPI (Ministry of Primary Industries) 

What is the correct water activity for cured meat products?

Ministry of Primary Industries (M.P.I) mandates that any ready to eat cured meat product should be below a water activity of 0.85 aW as a food safety measure to prevent microbial growth. 
The correct aW for a product however will depend upon the taste, texture and shelf life being targeted. Meter Food, suppliers of water activity meters suitable for cured and dried meat products, provides a good summary discussion on water activity and shelf stable, ready to eat meat products

Should a ready to eat cured meat be gas flushed?

Yes, gas flushing or using a modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) can significantly increase the shelf life of a ready to eat (cured) meat product and increase product safety. 

What is the shelf life of a cured meat?

Shelf life trials that Mätt Solutions have conducted on a number of different ready to eat cured meat snacks (including bier sticks, jerky and biltong) indicate that with the correct aW and proper gas flushing, a shelf life in excess of 6 months is easily achievable. 

What modified atmosphere gas mix should be used for ready to eat cured meats?

For best shelf life oxygen should be kept as low as possible.  The “best” mix will depend upon the exact nature of your product, some will benefit from a mix of 30% CO2 and 70% N2 while others will work better with more CO2.