Shelflife characteristics of lean color, lean surface discoloration and off-odor were evaluated on vacuum-packaged sliced bacon processed under commercial operations in four separate plants. In addition to the normal processing variations at each plant, three formulations with various levels of sodium nitrite and potassium sorbate were used: (a) 0 ppm sodium nitrite, (b) 40 ppm sodium nitrite-2600 ppm potassium sorbate and (c) 120 ppm sodium nitrite. Bacon was evaluated after 0, 2 and 4 d of simulated retail conditions following 10, 30, 50 and 70 d of storage under refrigerated dark conditions. Bacon processed with 0 ppm sodium nitrite underwent more lean surface discoloration than bacon processed with the other two formulations. The amount of lean surface discoloration, presence of undesirable colors and off-odor scores were similar between the 40 ppm sodium nitrite-potassium sorbate formulation and the 120 ppm sodium nitrite formulation except for the plant which employed a low salt-high sugar formulation. In this situation, especially with longer periods of storage and retail display, the 120 ppm sodium nitrite formulation yielded less surface discoloration, a lower frequency of undesirable colors and less off-odor than the 40 ppm sodium nitrite-2600 ppm potassium sorbate formulation. The occurrence of off-odor generally increased uniformly as a function of longer storage time regardless of sodium nitrite-potassium sorbate levels and processing plant variations.

This content is only available as a PDF.

Author notes

1Meat Science Research Laboratory.

2Present address: Nutrition Branch, Food Ingredient Assessment Division, Science Program, FSIS, USDA, Washington, D.C. 20250.

3Department of Dairy Science.