Clean Label Meat Technology: Preconverted Nitrite as a Natural Curing Agent
Received: Sep 15, 2020 ; Revised: Nov 17, 2020 ; Accepted: Nov 25, 2020
Published Online: Dec 07, 2020
Clean labeling is emerging as an important issue in the food industry, particularly for meat products that contain many food additives. Among synthetic additives, nitrite is the most important additive in the meat processing industry and is related to the development of cured color and flavor, inhibition of oxidation, and control of microbial growth in processed meat products. As an alternative to synthetic nitrite, preconverted nitrite from natural microorganisms has been investigated, and the applications of preconverted nitrite have been reported. Natural nitrate sources mainly include fruits and vegetables with high nitrate content. Many types of commercial starter cultures have been developed, and the roles of starter cultures, which can reduce nitrate to nitrite, are critical when reducing nitrate to nitrite or nitrite to nitric oxide. Preconverted nitrite has also been compared and contrasted with synthetic and natural nitrites with regard to its use as a natural curing agent, and studies have been aimed at improving utilization by exploiting the strengths and limiting the weaknesses of preconverted nitrite. Moreover, as concerns regarding the use of synthetic nitrites increased, research was conducted to meet consumer demands for the use of natural nitrite from raw materials. In this report, we review and discuss various studies in which synthetic nitrite was replaced with natural materials and evaluate preconverted nitrite technology as a natural curing approach from a clean label perspective in the manufacturing of processed meat products.