According to studies being conducted at Kansas State University, California dried plums’ ingredient functionality has risen several critical notches. Dr. Daniel Y.C. Fung, a leading expert on pathogens in meat products and a professor in the animal sciences department, has recently completed a series of tests to determine the effects of dried plum puree and fresh plum juice on five ground beef-borne bacteria. Evaluating ground beef samples one, three and five days after inoculation, Fung declared, "Our data shows that plum products suppress these common pathogens."

Five days after inoculation, the raw beef samples that contained dried plum puree or fresh plum juice exhibited significantly fewer microorganisms than the control samples. In the case of E. coli, for example, the dried plum puree treated beef sample tested at a 91.0% kill rate against the control, while the plum juice infused beef registered an impressive 99.0% kill rate. From all indications, says Fung, the plum products also appear to suppress total bacteria. After five days, the kill rate for dried plum puree and fresh plum juice were virtually identical at 99.7% against the control.

Fung and his team are impressed with the research results. "With dried plum ingredients, a 3% usage rate is adequate to suppress pathogens and the right level for improving functionality." Remarkably, the 3-5% by-weight usage is
the best range for moisture retention and texture enhancement, attributes that
have been associated to date with dried plum ingredients in meats. Also important, says Fung, plum juice and dried plum puree lack a characterizing flavor. This attribute gives plum products an advantage over more strongly flavored, natural pathogen inhibitors, such as garlic or cinnamon. Tangentially, dried plum puree has performed as effectively as synthetic antioxidants (BHA and BHT) in combating lipid oxidation in pre-cooked meats, reducing warmed-over flavor and producing a healthier product.

Dr. Fung is quick to point out the economic impact of his discovery. "Using dried plum products makes sense profit-wise. Three percent may not seem like much, but over 100,000 lbs. of ground meat, it can mean substantial savings."