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Keywords:

  • color stability;
  • cooked ham;
  • photooxidation;
  • residual oxygen concentration

ABSTRACT:  The effect of packages with different oxygen transmission rates (OTR), different gas-to-product-volume (GP) ratios, and various levels of residual oxygen after packaging on the color stability of cooked ham exposed to commercial retail light conditions was studied. Sliced cooked ham was packaged in thermoformed packages with OTR of 0.04 and 0.06 mL O2/pkg × 24 h and GP ratios of 2.6 and 4.1. After packaging, the packages were additionally divided into groups with 4 levels of residual oxygen ranging from 0.09% to 0.46%. The packaged ham was stored in darkness at 4 °C up to 33 d, and during the storage period samples were withdrawn and exposed to light for 2 d before instrumental and visual color evaluation. In order to maintain an acceptable color of this particular ham product when exposed to typical retail light conditions, the highest acceptable level of oxygen in the headspace of the packages was 0.15% oxygen at the time of illumination. This threshold level was independent of the storage time before light exposure. A residual oxygen level of below 0.15% just after packaging combined with the package with the lowest OTR (0.04 mL O2/pkg × 24 h) and the lowest GP ratio (2.6) was the optimal condition for maintaining the color of the tested ham product throughout the entire storage period.