Recent changes in legislation and consumers exercising choice have caused a reduction in the options available to extend the shelf life of pre sliced, cooked, cured meat products that are ready to eat. The use of preservatives is being phased out in response to the demands of retailers and consumers. There is also pressure on manufacturers to increase the shelf life of their products to improve availability and reduce waste in the supply chain.\ud This study will look at the impact of handling techniques on the initial bacterial loadings of ham and cured meats and report on the differences between manually handled products and those handled robotically. The ready to eat meat market is a large one with sales of over £1bn per year in the UK
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