Theses and Dissertations


Yan Zhao

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Schilling, M. Wes

Committee Member

Smith, Brian S.

Committee Member

Williams, J. Byron

Committee Member

Silva, Juan L.

Committee Member

Phillips, Thomas W.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Food Science and Technology

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion


Dry-cured hams often become infested with ham mites (Tyrophagus putrescentiae) during the aging process. Methyl bromide has been used to fumigate dry cured ham processing plants and is the only known fumigant that is effective at controlling ham mite infestations. However, methyl bromide will be phased out of all industries by 2015. This research was designed to 1) determine the efficacy of phosphine fumigation at controlling ham mites and red-legged beetles and its impact on the sensory quality and safety of dry cured hams, and 2) to develop and evaluate the potential of using food-grade film coatings to control mite infestations without affecting the aging process or sensory properties of dry-cured hams. Fumigation trials were conducted in simulated ham aging houses and commercial ham aging houses. Mite postembryonic mortality was 99.8% in the simulated aging houses and >99.9% in commercial aging houses two weeks post fumigation. Sensory tests with trained panelists indicated that there were no detectable differences (P>0.05) between phosphine fumigated and control hams. An analytical method was developed to determine phosphine concentration in ham. In addition, residual phosphine concentration was below the legal limit of 0.01 ppm in ham slices taken from phosphine fumigated hams. Coating trials were conducted on ham cubes and slices. Cubes coated with xanthan gum+20% propylene glycol and carrageenan/propylene glycol alginate+10% propylene glycol were effective at controlling mite infestations under laboratory conditions. Barrier properties (water vapor permeability and oxygen permeability) were measured to estimate the impact of coatings during the aging process. It was evident that carrageenan/propylene glycol alginate were permeable to moisture and therefore could potentially be applied to the hams during the aging process.