New market perspectives using herbs and berries in organic meat production (BERRYMEAT)

The aim of the project is to extend the range of organic meat products by introducing new interesting flavour variants. The novelty is to utilize herbs and berries for biological preservation and to provide the products with a new and interesting flavour profile and appearance.

The researchers will study how ecological consumers relate to a new preservation technology in the form of berries and herbs. They will also study how the consumers relate to the new products by form of berries and herbs and how the consumers relate to the new products by produce the cultivars, which are to be screened for anti-microbial activity and favourable flavour characteristics in meat products. Furthermore, they will optimize cultivation and storage conditions, preserving the desired characteristics after harvest in the best possible way.

They will also combine the selected berries and herbs to obtain the best result. The work includes an investigation of how berries and herbs should be added to the meat products and it must be clarified how different raw materials and meat processing affect the anti-microbial activity. The results will be validated at test productions at the two participating plants.

Finally, we will document that the selected berries and herbs can guarantee food safety and favourable eating quality throughout the entire shelf-life. Economic estimates for total production costs will be made.

Summary: Progress and activities in 2012:

In 2012, samples from the 8 plants (black chokeberry, sloe, lingonberry, redcurrant, sage, summer savory, wild garlic/garlic and horseradish) have been collected and pre-treated in 4 different ways (freeze dried, granulated; air-dried, granulated (at 50°C); fresh, blended or fresh, blended and heat-treated at 90°C). The antimicrobial effect of the pre-treated samples, have been studied, and in general, the best effect is observed when using fresh blended material. If a dried and granulated product is needed, freeze-dried powder has the best effect. At present, the effect of storage at ÷20°C for 1 year is investigated, as an expiry time of one year is needed for commercialization of the principle. Also the cultivation of 5 of the plants (black chokeberry, redcurrant, sage, summer savory, wild garlic) are being optimized regarding type of soil/fertilizing and time for harvest. Further, different cultivars of the plants are investigated in order to select the ones having the best antimicrobial effect.  Especially cultivation of wild garlic is a challenge, as this plant is only found wild in the nature.

The 8 plants and combinations of these have been examined for antimicrobial effect in laboratory models and in heat treated (saveloys) and fermented (salami) meat products. When tested in laboratory models, all the plants demonstrated a pronounced inhibitory effect against Salmonella/E. coli and L .monocytogenes, but when tested in meat products (the herbs and berries were added during production), no effect was observed, despite the herbs and berries being added in rather high amounts. Later, it was shown, that the high fat content, the high protein content and the heat treatment in the meat products, eliminated the inhibitory components of the herbs and berries. Consequently, in future studies, the selected herbs and berries will be added on the surface of the final products (instead of being added during production), in order to eliminate the harmful bacteria recontaminating the product. In order to obtain new taste and visual appearance of the meat products, a smaller amount can still be added to the meat products during production.  

During 2012, AU-Aarslev provided the meat companies (Hanegal and Tulip) with several samples of the selected herbs and berries for use in industrially produced meat products. The two companies produced several meat products added these herbs and berries (i.e. salami, saveloys, wieners, hams (sliced or diced) and liver paste). All the products have been found tasty and intriguing by internal sensory evaluation.

Summary: Progress and activities in 2011:

The novelty of the project is to exploit the natural antimicrobial compounds from the herbs and berries, avoiding the use of chemicals and at the same time develop meat products with an interesting and exiting taste and flavor.
From a broad range of herbs and berries, primarily of Nordic origin, a number of species will be selected and examined for antimicrobial effect and good taste in meat products. The project intends to combine up to 3 species in a meat product in order to obtain an optimal effect and taste. It is also important to demonstrate in
which form the herbs and berries should be added to the meat product, i.e. as a powder, as a juice or as the whole berry. And furthermore, it must be documented how the other components of the meat product (fat, protein salt and pH) and the production process itself interact with the added herbs and berries. This is necessary to know, in order to produce the new meat products in an industrial scale.

In parallel, investigations concerning how to grow, prepare and store the selected herbs and berries are carried out to secure and maintain an optimal antimicrobial activity in the selected herbs and berries for at least one year, as they can only be harvested once a year.

In 2011 a consumer survey was carried out. In general, the consumers were very positive of the idea of using the natural compounds from herbs and berries for preservation of meat products. Most of the consumers are fully prepared to try the new organic meat products, provided they have a good taste and flavour!

So far, the project has investigated the antimicrobial effect of 36 different herbs and berries. For many of these also different variants of the plant were examined. 15 of the investigated herbs and berries were found to be inhibitory to several bacteria. From these 15 herbs and berries, and based on other factors as consumer acceptance, short term availability, expected production costs and the ability of organic large scale production, 8 herbs and berries were selected for further studies in the project. 

Project leader

Flemming Hansen

Danish Technology Institute
Maglegaardsvej 2 
DK-4000 Roskilde

Tel: (+45) 72 20 26 03


Find the project's publications in Organic Eprints