Influence of in-package cold plasma treatment on microbiological shelf life and appearance of fresh chicken breast fillets.Food Microbiol. 2016 Dec; 60:142-6.FM
The effect of in-package cold plasmas (CP) was studied on microbiological shelf life and surface lightness of fresh chicken fillets (pectoralis major). Chicken fillets were packaged in food trays in air or modified atmosphere (MA) gas (O2:CO2:N2 = 65:30:5) and stored at 4 °C after exposed to an in-package cold plasma (80 kV for 180 s) treatment. Populations of mesophiles, psychrophiles, and pseudomonas spp. were measured as indicators for microbiological shelf life and CIELAB L(∗) values as an indicator for raw meat appearance. Results show that regardless of microbial type, there were no significant differences in microbial counts between the control and CP treated chicken fillets packed in air. However, in the MA packages, microbial counts were consistently lower than the non-treated control during refrigerated storage. Regardless of CP treatment, the microbial counts on the samples packed in air were much higher than in MA. They were more than 6 logs cfu/g in air compared to fewer than 4 logs cfu/g in MA after 7 d storage and fewer than 6 logs cfu/g after 14 d storage. Regardless of CP treatment and gas composition in package, there were no significant differences in the surface L(∗) value between the fillets pre-treatment and those after storage at 4 °C. These results demonstrate that the effects of in-package CP treatments on microbiological shelf life of fresh chicken fillets depend upon headspace composition in packages. When fresh chicken fillets are packed in air, CP treatment has no effect on microbiological shelf life. MA packages with high O2 and CO2 significantly extend shelf life and CP treatment with MA can at least double shelf life of fresh chicken meat (more than 14 days). Regardless of headspace composition, in-package CP does not have negative effects on chicken meat appearance.