A research of The Norwegian Veterinary Institute, Nofima, Animalia and The Norwegian School of Veterinary Science managed to identify sources and factors contributing to fungal growth on dry-cured meat products and was able to suggest preventive measures.
The growth of yeast and mould fungus often poses a threat to the quality of dry-cured meat and is a problem facing producers all over the world. Fungal growth can lead to bad quality products, increased production costs and health issues in consumers.
In Norway, there is a low incidence of fungal growth on dry-cured meat products compared with products from Southern Europe. But producers still want to find out more about which fungi grow on foods of this kind and about their effect on the food's quality and safety.
The research project is the result of collaboration between a dry-cured meat producer, The Norwegian Veterinary Institute, Nofima, Animalia and The Norwegian School of Veterinary Science and has provided new knowledge and recommendations about how the industry can combat these problems.
The aim of this doctoral study was to identify the fungi that grow on Norwegian products, appraise their significance, chart sources of contamination and propose measures. The study began by identifying mould fungus associated with Norwegian dry-cured meat products. Moulds of the genus Penicillium
predominated in the trials carried out on these products. Most of the species of Penicillium
that were found are capable of producing fungal toxins. When they develop on dry-cured meat products, they can potentially affect and reduce the safety and quality of the products.
Dereje T. Asefa's doctoral project involved studying cured mutton and two cured ham products made by a Norwegian cured meat manufacturer and taking samples throughout the whole production process in order to gain insight into the growth dynamics of the fungi.
In this way, Asefa managed to identify sources and factors contributing to fungal growth on the products and was able to suggest preventive measures. Of a total of 901 fungal isolates, 57% were mould fungi, while 43% were yeasts. Yeasts predominated on the surface of the meat products, whereas mould predominated amongst the environmental samples.