Health concerns have led consumers toward purchasing nitrite-free, low salt meat and poultry products. Lacking these barriers to control growth of bacterial pathogens, such products carry heightened risks for botulism, especially if temperature abused. To address this threat, five organic acid salts were evaluated as potential antibotulinal agents. Ground turkey breast was formulated with 1.4% NaCl, 0.3% sodium pyrophosphate, 0–6% organic acid salts, 10% ice, and 500 spores per g of a 6-strain mixture of proteolytic Clostridium botulinum. Vacuum-packaged product (10 g) was heated in 75°C water for 20 min, cooled, and incubated for up to 18 d at 28°C. Botulinal neurotoxin was detected by mouse bioassay at 2 d in samples which lacked any of the test compounds. Samples containing 2% acid salt developed neurotoxin, which was detected at 2, 2, 4, 5, and 5 d for pyruvate, citrate, lactate, acetate, and propionate, respectively. With 6% acid salt additions, samples remained neurotoxin free until 7 d with pyruvate, 18 d with citrate, and >18 d for the remaining compounds. Monocarboxylic acid salts exhibited antibotulinal activity related to their dissociation constants (pKa) Citrate did not fit this pattern, however, suggesting a different mechanism of action. This study reveals that a variety of organic acid salts possess activity that can be used alone or possibly in combination to enhance the safety of nitrite-free turkey products.
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