Evaluation of the Microbial Status of Country Cured Hams

Grants and Contracts Details


Recent research conducted in our laboratory (unpublished data) and a similar project funded by the National Country Ham Producers Association indicated that the safety of country-cured hams was at question if minimum USDA guidelines were not adhered to stringently. The need to strictly follow total time in cure, equalization and aging, as well as weight reductions to achieve the desired level of water activity is crucial. This is especially true as USDA considers country-cured hams to be a "ready-toeat" product with no need of heat treatment prior to consumption. In addition, most products are displayed as shelf-stable products without remgeration. Our previous data indicate that the minimum required time of drying might vary trom USDA regulations for larger hams as the industry slaughter weights continue to increase. These data indicate that water activity is a much better source of information for determining the safety of the product. In addition, preliminary research also indicates that if sufficient numbers of Staph sp. Are found on the tresh incoMing hams~toxin production might be a serious possibility which needs to be addressed through multiple hurdles or additional intervention steps. The goal of the proposed research is to identify the state of the products presently in the marketplace and to evaluate various intervention methods such as hot washes or organic acid sprays either pre- or post-processing.
Effective start/end date9/18/039/17/04


  • Food Safety and Inspection Service: $25,000.00


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