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Characterisation of naturally fermented sausages produced in the North East of Italy

Comi, G., Urso, R., Iacumin, L., Rantsiou, K., Cattaneo, P., Cantoni, C., Cocolin, L.
Meat science 2005 v.69 no.3 pp. 381-392
sausages, pork, fermented foods, traditional technology, fermentation, microbial ecology, meat aging, lactic acid bacteria, Staphylococcus, seasonal variation, food analysis, pH, water activity, relative humidity, protein content, lipid content, carbohydrate content, inorganic compounds, sodium chloride, nitrites, sensory evaluation, odors, acidity, rancidity, lipid peroxidation, texture, juiciness, meat tenderness, flavor, microorganisms, molecular systematics, strains, food safety
In the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, in the North East of Italy, a traditional fermented sausage is produced without the use of microbial starters. It is characterized at the end of the ripening period by accentuated acidity, slight sourness and elastic, semi-hard consistency. In this study, three fermentations, carried out in different seasons (winter, spring and summer) were followed analyzing the microbiological, physicochemical and sensory aspects of this product. The sausages were characterized by an important microbial activity of lactic acid bacteria and micro/staphylococci that resulted in a product with a final pH of about 5.6-5.7. An interesting aspect was the high number of fecal enterococci that can play an important role in the definition of the organoleptic profile of the final product. No Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella spp. and Staphylococcus aureus were ever isolated from the raw materials or the fermented sausages during the maturation, underlining the safety of this product. The final water activity of the product was 0.91-0.92. One hundred and fifty lactic acid bacteria were isolated and identified by molecular methods to understand which species were more predominant in the product. Lactobacillus curvatus and Lactobacillus sakei were the most numerous (54 and 64 strains isolated, respectively) and they were the only species common to all three fermentations. A cluster analysis of the profiles obtained from these strains after RAPD-PCR highlighted a population distribution that was fermentation-specific.