Deli meats have been a staple in many people’s diets for a long time, largely owing to their convenience. Yet, as with many processed foods, concerns persist over the safety of these products, which are occasionally prone to outbreaks of foodborne illnesses that can pose significant health risks to consumers and cause massive problems for producers in the form of lost profits and damage to the company’s reputation. Just a few years ago, a listeria outbreak forced a single US packing company to recall almost 500,000 pounds of deli meat.
Deli meat companies have traditionally dealt with the problem of foodborne illnesses (like listeria) by adding artificial preservatives to their products, especially the class of compounds known as nitrites or nitrates. These preservatives do help in preventing the growth of many dangerous pathogens, but in recent years concerns have been raised about their safety. While the science is still not entirely clear on the health effects of nitrates and nitrites, many consumers have begun turning away from products that contain these compounds just to be safe.
Of course, given the strong market trend toward clean label offerings, this should be no surprise. Consumers are increasingly displaying distrust toward any and all artificial additives. A significant marketing advantage is conferred on those companies that can offer safe, nutritious products that are made of recognizable ingredients.
What makes HPP such an attractive proposition for companies that produce deli meats is that it excels in all of the areas that are important to both producers and consumers. The high levels of pressure applied to the packaged product kills any potentially dangerous pathogens that might be present in the food. It is especially good at destroying salmonella, listeria, and e. coli, three of the most common foodborne pathogens. It also deactivates spoilage microorganisms that are not dangerous on their own but contribute to the short shelf life of untreated products. Because of this, products that are treated with HPP have no need for chemical preservatives of any kind. Their shelf life is extended naturally.
Eliminating the need for artificial preservatives also helps lower the sodium content of the product (which, for lunch meats, can be relatively high), since preservatives are often sodium based. This means that the product being delivered to grocery store shelves and eventually to your customers’ refrigerators is healthier on several counts. Excess sodium intake is one of the most commonly cited issues with the consumption of processed foods, and sodium is one of the nutrition label items that consumers pay the most attention to. A lower sodium product is almost always perceived as being the healthier choice.
It is the total package that HPP delivers in terms of food safety, nutritional value, taste, and clean label status that makes it stand out from the pack. Your product is processed right in its final packaging, so you no longer need to worry about post-processing contamination. You can deliver a safe, wholesome, nutritionally sound and naturally delicious offering that your customers can feel good about feeding to themselves and their families. In today’s competitive food marketplace, where consumers are demanding all of these things from the companies whose products they buy, this could be one of the most important decisions you ever make.