Meat+Poultry - August 2020 - 41

F

ully cooked meat and poultry products
are increasingly being embraced by home
cooks seeking out convenient meal options
during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same
time, health and wellness is top-of-mind, and
includes consumers wanting assurance that
food is safe for consumption.
Meat and poultry processors have many
technologies to ensure that product is free
from pathogens. Many rely on a hurdle
approach, where multiple preservation
methods, including physical, chemical and
biological, are applied to the product. This
involves managing attributes such as pH,
temperature and water activity to eliminate
pathogenic microorganisms from the product.
This is particularly critical with readyto-eat (RTE) proteins, such as cold cuts,
deli/luncheon meats and charcuterie. These
are perishable foods that are not heated
before consumption. Even heat-and-eat fully
cooked meats pose a risk, as the consumer
may not heat the product enough to kill
dangerous microorganisms.

Marlen via Digistock.com

PROVIDING MEAL SOLUTIONS
The popularity of such meats has never been
greater. After all, more than half (51%) of
consumers are now preparing 91% to 100%
of meals at home, according to IRI, Chicago.
Almost the same number (49%) find that their
biggest challenge is meal ideas or lack of
inspiration to cook. Enter fully cooked meat
and poultry solutions.
From March 15 to June 7, the pandemic
purchasing period when many states had stayat-home orders in place, processed refrigerated
RTE meat sales were $5.1 billion, a 45%
increase in dollar sales from the same period
a year ago and a 33% increase in pounds.
Smoked ham and pork had the strongest sales,
followed by sausage, hot dogs and bacon.
"People returned to the familiar amid
COVID-19 and meat returned to the center of
plate," said Anne-Marie Roerink, president of
210 Analytics LLC, San Antonio. "Processed
meats have had their sales dreams come true.
Sales are up strong in all four main categories.
One big opportunity is helping consumers with
meal planning."
Fully cooked products may assist. The time
is now for processors to explore new forms
and flavors, e.g., from seasonings, rubs and

marinades. This includes everything from fully
cooked refrigerated chicken cubes and kabobs
to turkey breast slices to gourmet sausages.
Ensuring safety is paramount. The 2020
Food & Health Survey from the International
Food Information Council (IFIC), Washington,
DC, was conducted between April 8 and
April 16, about one month into the COVID19 mayhem. The survey showed that 85% of
Americans have made at least some change in
the foods they eat or how they prepare food.
While consumers' top food safety issues have
been stable in recent years, this year concerns
about food handling and preparation related to
the risk of COVID-19 has shot up to the second
most important issue for Americans (or the
top issue if looking at what people rank as No.
1 only). More than a third of Americans also
say that they actively avoid certain foods and
beverages as a result of their concerns about
the food safety issues.
A total of 4,500 consumers from across
the globe were asked in a survey by DNV GL,
Høvik, Norway, about their food purchasing
habits and the results indicate a strong
preference for factors impacting the individual
consumer. Food safety (55% of respondents)
and health issues (53%) were regarded more
important than wider external factors, such as
environment (38%) and social aspects (35%). 
"Food safety is top of the agenda for
consumers," said Joy Franks-Laing, global
food and beverage manager. "Consumers are
even willing to pay more for products that they
trust. If the product information is verified
or if the product or manufacturer is certified
to a food safety standard, 69% are willing to
pay more. Food safety certification is quite
common at the manufacturer level."

"People
returned to
the familiar
amid
COVID-19
and meat
returned to
the center
of plate."
- ANNE-MARIE ROERINK

MULTI-HURDLE TECHNOLOGY
Fully cooked meat and poultry products pose
some of the highest potential dangers in the
food industry. At the same time, however,
processors of these products have a plethora of
technologies available to ensure safety.
The goal is to maximize the quality of
the food without compromising food safety.
The hurdle technology approach integrates
individually mild preservation technologies
that work in synergy.
The oldest form of preservation technology
is salting and is always one of the technologies
www.meatpoultry.com | 08.20 | MEAT+ POULTRY

41


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Meat+Poultry - August 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meat+Poultry - August 2020

Meat+Poultry - August 2020 - 1
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