Meat and sausage products are susceptible to spoiling by microbiological organisms. The short shelf-life of the products means that more than 24% of the meat products produced in Europe are lost at some stage along the value creation chain. The majority of this loss occurs in shops and after purchase by consumers. Contamination by zoonotic pathogens during manufacture can also present a health risk for consumers. Surface sterilization of the packaged meat and sausage products by IR or UV radiation should increase the microbiological safety and shelf-life of these products, as subsequent microbial contamination through the packaging can be ruled out.
A small pilot plant will be designed and constructed for continuous surface sterilization with IR and UV radiation. Detailed series of trials will identify suitable treatment parameters for sterilizing products in continuous operation in order to allow a high throughput in a short time. The effect of the different treatment parameters on key quality features such as the odor, taste, texture, and color will also be investigated, as will any effects on the properties of the different packaging materials.