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Micro levels in a live curing brine

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Posted 07 June 2011 - 09:26 AM

I'm wondering if anyone has any expertise in using a live brine to cure bacon? I am receiving high micro counts from a product that we subcontract out the curing off. I am being told that the micro levels are high simply because it's a live brine and that there's nothing wrong with the bacon.

Common sense tells me that there must be a limit to how high a count we should be getting on fresh bacon but I have no idea what it should be. Maybe the company is right and they will never be able to achieve our in-house specification with a live brine or maybe they are making it up as they go along - I really have NO idea.

Any help gratefully received



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Posted 09 June 2011 - 09:20 PM

Can anyone assist Naomi?

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 02:11 PM

I assume when you say 'high micro counts' that you mean a general total viable count and not high counts of pathogenic organisms or organisms indicative of faecal contamination.
The total viable count doesnt give any indication of the safety of the product, it's just an approximate number of living bacteria per gram.
It is correct that many brines will contain starter cultures which are harmless salt tolerant bacteria. This will subsequently mean that the cured meat will have high numbers of these bacteria as well.
Unless your product is ready to eat, a high count of these bacteria is not really a problem.

Do you have a maximum limit set for the micro counts? do you know how or why this limit was set?

I think it might be more important to monitor quality of the brine (salt content, pH, etc) and the presence of indicator bacteria or pathogens such as Listeria than worry over total viable counts.

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