Three food preservatives that have previously been prohibited for use in meat and poultry will be approved effective May 6, 2013. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA’s FSIS) says it has determined that sodium benzoate, sodium propionate and benzoic acid are “safe and suitable for use as antimicrobial agents in certain [ready-to-eat} RTE meat and poultry products,” according to announcement in the Federal Register. The additives are already approved for use in other food items such as salad dressings, carbonated beverages and fruit juice and condiments.
The change came about after Kraft Foods Global, Inc. petitioned FSIS in 2006 to allow the use of the preservatives for use as antimicrobial agents to inhibit the growth of Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat meat and poultry products. Four years later, Kemin Food Technologies petitioned FSIS to permit the use of liquid sodium propionate and liquid sodium benzoate as acceptable antimicrobial agents in meat and poultry products.
FSIS evaluated the requests, confirmed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that it had no safety objections to the preservatives and reviewed the supporting data supplied by Kraft and Kemin. Although FSIS concluded that the petitioners had established the preservatives were safe, it wanted more data. It granted the companies waivers to conduct trials on the efficacy of the additives as antimicrobial agents.
“Kraft submitted data collected from its in-plant-trials and from scientific studies that show that these substances do not conceal damage or inferiority or make products appear better or of greater value than they are under the proposed conditions of use. Kraft submitted research findings to demonstrate that its proposed use of sodium benzoate and sodium propionate is effective in controlling the growth of [Listeria] in RTE meat and poultry products. Kemin also submitted findings supporting the use of its sodium propionate and propionic acid formulations,” according to the Federal Register.