Research – The Risk of Salt Reduction in Dry-Cured Sausage Assessed by the Influence on Water Activity and the Survival of Salmonella


kswfoodworld Salmonella

Water activity (aw) is the main hurdle for microbial control in dry-cured sausages. The aw can be influenced by drying or adding electrolytes or humectants. Dry-cured meat products are partially dried, which, together with added salt, results in safe aw values. Currently, there is a trend to reduce salt in meat products, which can compromise the preservation process. The present work aims to evaluate the influences of added salt levels (1% or 3%) and the use or omission of phosphates and wine on the aw of a dry-cured sausage, and to evaluate the possibility of estimating the aw from the moisture loss and the behavior of Salmonella during dry-cured sausage (chouriço) processing. There was a strong relationship between moisture and aw, regardless of the salt level and the presence of phosphates or wine. Predicting aw from moisture loss is possible using the Boltzmann sigmoid function. The salt level strongly influences Salmonella behavior, mainly through aw reduction. An increase in aw by 0.01 units reduced the odds of achieving a 5-log reduction in Salmonella counts to half. Increasing added salt from 1% to 3% increased the odds of achieving a 5-log Salmonella reduction 7.5-fold. The current trend to reduce salt in foods must be carefully approached if applied to cured meat products, as it has substantial consequences on aw evolution and Salmonella survival.

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