Manufacture Of Meat Starter Cultures

Meat starter cultures are marketed as frozen or freeze-dried products, the latter being standardized with a carrier that is most often a carbohydrate. Meat starter cultures are produced as single-strain cultures that are mixed after fermentation and concentration (33). Starter cultures should be looked on as any other food additive; that is, they should be GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) approved. The legislation is not standardized and no official standard has been issued. However, requirements for meat starter cultures have been discussed in publications (33,60), and the following should be regarded as minimum requirements for a standard:

1. From a health perspective, only nontoxic and nonpathogenic strains should be used and the starter culture should be free of any impurity that could cause health risks.

2. Use of starter cultures should result in fermentations controlled with respect to acidification, texture, color, and aroma as well as microbiological stability of the meat product. Starter cultures should consist of phenotypically and genotypically stable as well as phage-resistant strains.

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