22 Nov 2022 — Food shelf life extension specialist Kemin Food Technologies has developed a nitrite alternative for use in the first stage of emulsified cooked sausages. Rubinite GC Dry, a label-friendly ingredient offering food safety while maintaining taste and color, is available for food producers in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region.
Marketed as an all-in-one solution, Rubinite GC Dry maintains product stability with active molecules from plant extracts, which also provide a natural pink color. Rubinite GC Dry’s buffered vinegar also provides optimal microbial protection against foodborne pathogens, such as Clostridium botulinum and Listeria monocytogenes.
Ahead of Kemin’s upcoming exclusive webinar held on FoodIngredientsFirst, we catch up with the company’s platform leaders and research heads to delve into Rubinite GC Dry’s host of functionalities.
“Nitrite is responsible for the bright-pink to red color we like to see when buying processed meat, but it also functions as an antioxidant and a preservative to protect against foodborne pathogens,” says Caroline Ecoffard, product platform manager, Kemin Food Technologies – EMEA.
“Over time, though, authorities have looked closer into nitrite as an ingredient. Since the 1970s, the legal limit of its inclusion in processed meat has been decreased, and authorities keep decreasing the permitted level of nitrite, which reinforces a negative perception of the ingredient and its use.”
Packing a natural preservative punch
The buffered vinegar used in the Rubinite GC Dry solution is produced at Kemin Food Technologies – EMEA’s new facility in Crema, Italy.
“Today, most processed cooked products – such as emulsified cooked sausages, cooked ham or any other type of ‘cold cut’ – contains sodium nitrite,” emphasizes Ines Colle, R&D manager, Kemin Food Technologies – EMEA.
“RUBINITE GC Dry can be used alone or in combination; for example, it can be used with reduced levels of nitrate salts,” she continues. “This customization from Kemin’s Customer Laboratory Services allows us to serve the final application and country regulation impacting the finished product.”
“By developing a nitrite-free solution, we can offer food manufacturers the opportunity to remove ascorbate or diacetate from their formula, thus cleaning up their product labels.”
Kemin cites that buyers have flagged general health concerns as the top motivator for avoiding “chemical-sounding” ingredients.
Studies support this shifting mindset, as the Innova Market Insights’ 2019 Consumer Survey showed two out of three European consumers say they specifically want to avoid products with ingredients that are difficult to understand.
Meanwhile, processed meat and meat products are still very much integral to consumers’ food purchasing, with chilled cuts of meat and sausage being the third and fourth, respectively, most purchased manufactured products among all food and beverage categories.
For the past two decades, nitrites have been the most commonly used ingredient to cure meat, but their lack of clarity makes it difficult for consumers to understand the purpose of the ingredient in their food.
Companies spearhead nitrite removal
Nitrite can be recognizable by the E250 label on the packaging. It has the potential to form carcinogenic nitrosamines in your body, and is already prohibited in baby- and children’s food (up to six months of age), and not recommended for pregnant women.
Even as nitrites are allowed as food preservatives, companies are proactively making efforts to switch them out.
Earlier this year, researchers from the American Chemical Society developed a color-changing film that consumers can stick onto foods and quickly analyze nitrite levels by snapping a picture with a smartphone.
Meanwhile, Vaess has eliminated nitrite from its bacon products with a brine compound.
Vaess is not the first company to create nitrite-free bacon, as Naked Bacon achieved that already in 2018. One year earlier, in 2017, EFSA evaluated the safety of nitrites and nitrates, noticing high nitrosamine levels in meat products, however, the body did not have at the time “sufficient information to link these levels to nitrites intentionally added to food.”
Last year, Japanese researchers found that resveratrol from the country’s knotweed holds the potential to replace nitrate preservatives. Japanese knotweed is a fast-growing plant often feared by homeowners for its ability to invade gardens.
On December 2, at 10:30 a.m. (CET), FoodIngredientsFirst will host an exclusive Kemin webinar delving into its new innovation in shelf-life and food safety for processed meat products. Attendees may register here.
By Benjamin Ferrer
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