Microbial ecosystems of meat and meat products
Meat products like other processed food products are contaminated by many microbial species which grow more or less rapidly according to the kind of processing involved and to the physico-chemical parameters of the products. In fact, for microbiologists, workshops are true ecosystems as they always fit to the exact definition of any kind of ecosystem. Hence an ecosystem is the dynamic association of two permanently interacting components: An environment with a defined spatio-temporal dimension : the biotope. A community of living organisms with peculiar characteristics. An ecosystem is a permanently changing unit, the modifications are depending of the energy fluxes. So it is not necessary to have expertise in ecology or in meat technology to understand that food processing plants and workshops are true ecosystems as well as a forest, a lake, an atoll. However, according to the kind of processing chosen for meat and meat products, two or three main ecosystems can be characterized: those influencing the storage life of fresh meats, those influencing cured and fermented meats and those influencing heated or cooked meat products. In this paper, the two first will only be discussed as the third one frequently involves micro-organisms which are not meat specific.