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Vegetable Preservatives

Researchers at the University of Zaragoza in Spain have developed a method to extend the shelf life of burgers using peppers and tomatoes.

The results of the study, which were published in the February 2003 issue of SCI's 'Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture'. The team of researchers, led by Pedro Roncales, produced eight batches of beef burgers containing different amounts of cayenne pepper, red sweet pepper and lycopene-enriched tomato products. The burgers were stored at 20 degrees C and every four days they were tested for microbial activity, sensory analysis, colour analysis and pH.

The results demonstrated that the addition of ground peppers (both sweet and hot) to the beef burgers delayed and significantly inhibited the oxidation of both myoglobin and lipids as well as the growth of psychotropic bacteria. As a consequence, and according to instrumental and sensory results of meat colour and odour, the shelf life was extended from four days to about 16 days.

The report indicated that the addition of lycopene-rich tomato products was not as effective with peppers, although they too exerted a significant antioxidant effect, so that the shelf life was increased to between eight to 12 days.

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