Prunes Help Suppress Growth of Major Food-Borne Pathogens in Meat

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Feb 11, 2002
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According to a Kansas State University food microbiologist, dried plums possess anti-microbial properties that can help make meat products safer. Professor of Animal Sciences and Industry Daniel Y.C. Fung and his graduate research assistant, Leslie Thompson, have tested the effect that varying levels of dried plum mixtures had on ground meat that was contaminated with common food-borne pathogens. Their
research, sponsored by the California Dried Plum Board, indicates that raw meats mixed with as little as three percent of plum extract are more than 90 percent effective in suppressing the growth of major food-borne pathogens such as E. coli 0157:H7, Salmonella, Listeria, Y. enterocolitica and Staphylococcus.

Fung has previously conducted research with spices such as garlic and cinnamon to kill food-borne pathogens in ground beef. Unlike spices, which can alter the taste of meats, the plum extracts lack a “plum taste” so foods taste “normal.”

Similar research conducted by scientists at Texas A&M University has found that adding dried plum mixtures to raw meat improved the quality of reheated products by enhancing the moisture of the meat. Dried plum works as an antioxidant to prevent lipid oxidation, which is similar to freezer burn in meat, adds Fung. In addition to enhancing the moistness of meat, the extract increases the yields.

Fung hopes to expand the research to poultry products such as chicken and turkey. Future research will involve experiments to determine if plum extracts can extend the shelf life of meats as well.

Moderator Comment: What needs to be done to create a safer food supply from the farm to table?

The research conducted by Kansas State and Texas A&M points to the possibility of a natural and readily available source for protecting, adding flavor and increasing the yield of the meat supply. Are there other studies, perhaps with other foods, that have shown similar initial promise? [George
Anderson – Moderator
]

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