Technologies and Mechanisms for Safety Control of Ready-to-eat Muscle Foods: An Updated Review

Jiang Jiang, Youling L. Xiong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Ready-to-eat (RTE) muscle foods refer to a general category of meat and poultry products that are fully cooked and consumable without reheating. These products, including whole and sliced pork, beef, turkey, chicken, and variety of meats, in the forms of ham, roast, rolls, sausage, and frankfurter, are widely available in the delicatessen section of retail stores or various food service outlets. However, difficulties in avoidance of contamination by foodborne pathogens, notably Listeria monocytogenes, during product postlethality repackaging render RTE meats labile to outbreaks. Accordingly, the USDA-FSIS has established processing guidelines and regulations, which are constantly updated, to minimize foodborne pathogens in RTE products. Technologies that complement good manufacturing practice have been developed to control RTE meat safety. Among them, various antimicrobial product formulations, postpackaging pasteurization (thermal and nonthermal), and antimicrobial packaging are being used. Through these efforts, outbreaks linked to RTE meat consumption have substantially reduced in recent years. However, the pervasive and virulent nature of L. monocytogenes and the possible presence of other cold-tolerant pathogens entail continuing developments of new intervention technologies. This review updates existing and emerging physical and chemical methods and their mode of action to inactivate or inhibit threatening microorganisms in RTE muscle foods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1886-1901
Number of pages16
JournalCritical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
Issue number13
StatePublished - Nov 10 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Copyright © Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.


  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Ready-to-eat
  • antimicrobials
  • cooked meat
  • packaging
  • postpackaging pasteurization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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