Meat Starter Cultures And Meat Product Manufacturing

The origin of fermented meat products remains unknown, although the history of fermented sausages probably can be dated back more than 2000 years to the Mediterranean (1). Traditionally, the chopped meat was either presalted to promote development of lactic acid bacteria, or the "back-slopping" method was used. Today, large-scale industrial productions require consistent and accelerated processing, which has led to the present general use of meat starter cultures. Around 1920, pioneering work was done in this field, but it was not until the 1950s that starter cultures for sausage fermentation were introduced on a commercial scale. In the United States, pure cultures of pediococci were introduced in 1957 (2), while pure cultures of micrococci were introduced in 1961 in Europe (3). The usage of starter cultures in the manufacture of dry-cured sausages became common in the 1980s. Apart from the United States, where pure pediococci are still preferred due to manufacturing conditions, the trend is now increasing toward the use of mixed cultures composed of staphylococci strains and strains of lactic acid bacteria. Starter cultures contribute to appearance, texture, flavor, and aroma. The usage of starter cultures for fermented meat products is largely confined to dry-cured sausages. Only a minor portion is employed for dry-cured ham production.

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