Food Safe Alternatives to Methyl Bromide in Country Ham Production

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Virginia Tech

Dry cured meat production is a costly and long term investment for producers. Ham mites (Tyrophagus putrescentiae) are a common pest of dry cured products and cause devastating effects, potentially nullifying producers' investments due to loss of salable product, as well as regulatory concerns. Methyl bromide, a chemical fumigant used to control mite populations, is damaging to stratospheric ozone and will no longer be available. Presently, no alternative control measure has been approved to combat the ham mite; therefore, it is essential to identify potential alternatives. Interest in safe alternatives to control arthropod pest populations is gaining momentum, and garlic (Allium sativum) has been used to control other arthropod species including the northern fowl mite, mosquitos, and aphids. We chose to explore the efficacy of garlic juice in controlling T. putrescentiae. Using a choice test design, approximately 65% of the inoculated mites colonized on the control ham cubes, while no mites remained on garlic juice-dipped cubes. Garlic was ineffective when examined for volatile efficacy, but was effective in direct contact assays. However, as garlic juice was aged and diluted, efficacy was reduced even after treatments with antioxidants, metal chelators, and pH neutralization. In total, garlic juice acted as a short term repellent and showed efficacy in contact models, but application is time sensitive due to variable enzymatic degradation.

Ham Mite