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This study was conducted to test the concept of utilizing films containing antimicrobial substances as an intervention strategy for wrapping fresh beef cuts. Polyethylene film was impregnated with a high (1.8%) or low (0.4%) concentration of chlorine dioxide, a compound commonly used as a sanitizer, and as a water purifier. Whole beef cuts were packaged either with these films, or with non-impregnated films (controls), and refrigerated.
The low-concentration film did not decrease the levels of bacterial contamination on the fresh beef cuts, whereas the high concentration film resulted in about a 90% reduction in the total number of bacteria. However, the quality of the beef in the high-concentration film was affected, changing the color of the product from red to a dark green.
An attempt was made to combat this by dipping the cuts in ascorbic acid, a natural component of vitamin C, prior to packing and storage. The dips had a minimal effect on the discoloration of the beef. Despite the color changes, packaging in chlorine dioxide film did not significantly affect the flavor of the beef. This study indicates that using packaging films that contain an antimicrobial substance, such as chlorine dioxide, may hold some promise for shelf-life extension. However, due to the effect upon product color, this and similar processes may be useful only with products such as cured or cooked beef items.