With critics urging a ban on use of carbon monoxide (CO) to keep packaged meat looking pink and fresh almost indefinitely, scientists are reporting that an extract of rosemary added to meat packaging keeps meat in the pink for weeks.
Researchers in Spain added an extract of the popular herb to the polypropylene film used to package freshly cut meat in supermarket displays. Rosemary has a time-honored reputation as an antioxidant and food preservative.
That addition created "active packaging," the scientists explain in a report in the Sept. 6 issue of the ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Such packaging goes beyond passively sealing food away from the environment, and plays an active role in keeping food fresh.
The rosemary-enhanced plastic film kept beef steaks looking pink and fresh for 14 days under conditions found in supermarkets. That represents an increase in average display life of two days, or about 17 percent, compared to meat packaged in a traditional modified atmosphere mixture of oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen gas.
"The usefulness of the present work is obvious and finds immediate application in the food industry," the researchers reported.
Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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