In light of the trend towards reduced salt and additives in foods, food companies are casting about for ways to ensure their products are as safe as can be, but without using synthetic preservatives. Chr Hansen introduced its SafePro range of bio-protective cultures for meat two years ago. The new addition, based on lactic acid and known as B-LC-48, will be formally launched at FIE in October. It is intended to help the ready-to-eat food industry meet consumer demands for less additives, but at the same time comply with legislation on the number of listeria bacteria per gram. In many countries there is now zero tolerance of listeria in food products. Yet Eva Stenby, marketing manager at Chr Hansen told FoodNavigator.com: "Listeria is part of nature, and can be a problem for even very hygienic plants. "It is undeniable that listeria is an increasingly critical issue and a problem to which many food producers have been seeking new solutions." Stenby described B-LC-48 as "a first clear attempt to give the ready-to-eat industry a listeria-killing culture". While the company has previously offered its B2 culture for use in fresh sausages and ready-to-eat meat products that are packed in a modified atmosphere or vacuum, this serves only to keep listeria levels static. With B-LC-48, listeria numbers actually go into decline. Stenby added that prevention of food bugs is also of paramount importance to global companies with corresponding global supply chains. If a food product is travelling long distances, it is to manufacturers to ensure it is fit to eat when it arrives at its destination. The ready-to-eat sector is a particularly interesting market segment to Chr Hansen because it is large and fragmented, encompassing many different kinds of food products. B-LC-48 has been tested in applications including sliced and cooked ham products, emulsion sausages and fresh cheese. Besides B-LC-48 and B2, Chr Hansen also offers B-FM, which has the same properties as B2, but imbues fresh sausages with more flavour and colour. For reducing listeria in fermented sausages, B-LC-20, which does not call for any changes to the recipe or processing procedure; or F-LC, which also provides consistent acidification and a stable colour. Alternatively, B-LC-35 has the same anti-listerial properties as F-LC, but gives the fermented sausage less acidification.