Hurdle technology to ensure the safety of seafood products

The microbial safety and stability of most food, are based on an application of preservative factors called hurdles. Each hurdle implies putting microorganisms in a hostile environment, which inhibits their growth or causes their death (Leistner, 2000). Some of those hurdles have been empirically used for years to stabilize meat, fish, milk and vegetables. This sometimes leads to completely different product with its own new taste characteristics. Examples of hurdles in marine products are salt (salted cod, klipfish), smoke (cold or hot smoked salmon, herring), acids (marinated products, pickles), temperature (high or low), fermentative microorganisms (traditional Asian sauces) and more recently redox potential (vacuum-packed products). Those preservative factors have been studied for years, but a large amount of potential hurdles for food have already been described including organic acids, bacteriocins, chitosan, nitrate, lactoperoxidase, essential oil, modified atmosphere packaging... , as well as novel decontamination technologies such as microwave and radio frequency, ohmic and inductive heating, high pressure, pulsed electric field, high voltage arc discharge, pulsed light, oscillation magnetic field, ultraviolet light, ultrasound, X-ray, electrolyse NaCl water, ozone... (Kim et al, 1999 ; Weber, 2000 ; Mahmoud et al, 2006). Hurdles that have a positive effect by inhibiting microorganisms may have a negative one on other parameters such as nutritional properties or sensory quality, depending on their intensity. As an example, salt content in food must be high enough to inhibit pathogens and spoilage microorganisms, but not so high to impair taste. In order to lower the preservative level, the hurdle technology concept has been developed (Leistner, 1985), consisting in using combined hurdles to establish an additive antimicrobial effect, and even sometimes a synergetic one, thus improving the safety and the sensory quality of food.

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Leroi Francoise, Amarita Felix, Arboleya Juan Carlos, Bjørkevoll Ingebright, Cruz Ziortza, Dousset Xavier, Izurieta E, Joffraud Jean-Jacques, Lasagabaster Amaïa, Lauzon Hélène-Liette, Lorentzen G, Martínez de Marañón Iñigo, Matamoros Sébastien, Miranda I, Nuin Maider, Olabarrieta Idoia, Olsen R, Pilet Marie-France, Prevost Hervé, Skjerdal Taran (2008). Hurdle technology to ensure the safety of seafood products. Improving Seafood Products for the Consumer (book). (19). 399-425.

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