• bacon;
  • frankfurter;
  • ham;
  • residual nitrate;
  • residual nitrite;
  • uncured

ABSTRACT:  Increasing demands for natural, organic, and/or preservative-free foods have resulted in the consumer availability of uncured, no-nitrate/nitrite-added processed meat and poultry products. A comprehensive understanding about the quality and sensory attributes of commercially available uncured products is unclear. The objective of this study was to determine if quality and sensory differences exist between uncured and cured meat products. Five different commercial brands (Brands A to E; 4 uncured, no-nitrate/nitrite-added, and 1 nitrite-added) of 3 product types (hams, frankfurters, and bacons) were obtained from retail supermarkets. The samples were evaluated for color, pigment content, pH, lipid oxidation, residual nitrate and nitrite content, and consumer acceptance. All brands from all product types evaluated, except for 1 bacon (Brand B), had cured color, aroma, and flavor attributes similar to the nitrite-added control (Brand E). All product types and brands contained residual nitrate and residual nitrite except for Brands B and D bacons (< 1 ppm nitrite). Lipid oxidation as measured by 2-thiobarbituric acid reactive substances revealed a large variation in the occurrence of lipid oxidation both between and within product types, with frankfurters reporting the highest levels. Color measurements indicated the majority of the brands within each product type were similar to the control. Consumer sensory ratings for surface/lean color, aroma, flavor, texture, and overall acceptance determined that variation existed. Brand E (nitrite-added control) and 1 uncured, no-nitrate/nitrite-added brand for each product type were not different (P > 0.05) for overall acceptance and received higher scores (P < 0.05) than all other brands within each product type.