How safe is your cooked meat after chilled storage?

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  • Published: Feb 10, 2015
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: Raman / NMR Knowledge Base / Infrared Spectroscopy / Base Peak / MRI Spectroscopy / X-ray Spectrometry / Proteomics / Atomic / Chemometrics & Informatics / UV/Vis Spectroscopy

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The safety of cooked meat that has been subsequently chilled can be determined by using Raman spectroscopy to estimate the final endpoint temperature to ensure that is not undercooked and ready to eat.

The European Chilled Food Federation has proposed that food should be cooked for at least two minutes at a core temperature of 70°C. This is sufficient to kill off the common food-based microorganisms like Salmonella and Listeria but how do you check that it has been reached? And using a procedure that can be translated to the quality control level for multiple samples.  

The answer might be Raman spectroscopy, backed up by a chemometric analysis of the data. Writing in Food Control, scientists in Denmark heated pieces of pork chops at different temperatures and vacuum packed them for storage over 4 or 8 days. By using conventional chemometrics software, the endpoint temperature during cooking could be predicted to an accuracy of 1.78°C. One failing is the inability to determine the cooking time at a particular temperature.  

Samples cooked at 50-64 and 66-80°C could be easily differentiated, which is a good comparison point as Listeria monocytogenes is inactivated above 65°C and most other common harmful microorganisms are inactivated at lower temperatures. The spectral differences were caused by changes in the structure of the meat proteins  

The research team suggested that Raman spectroscopy could give rapid results on the endpoint temperature of meat in an industrial setting. However, before this can occur other types of meat products should be tested.

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