Cornmeal, food storage


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommends food be included in efforts to be prepared for natural disasters and other emergencies. Cornmeal packaged in No. 10 cans with a low oxygen atmosphere has been available in the retail market for decades, but the effect of long-term storage on quality is unknown. This study assessed the quality of cornmeal stored up to 33 years at ambient temperatures in a low oxygen atmosphere. Sixteen samples of cornmeal packaged in No. 10 cans ranging in age from < 1 to 33 years were obtained from donors. The cornmeal and products made from the cornmeal (cornbread and cornmeal hot cereal) were evaluated by a 50-member consumer panel using a 9-point hedonic scale for attributes including appearance, aroma, flavor, texture, and overall acceptability. Acceptance for everyday use and emergency situations was also determined. Additional measurements included can headspace oxygen, can seam integrity, color, and water activity. There was no significant decrease over storage time in aroma, texture, flavor, and overall acceptability in cornmeal, cornbread or cornmeal cereal. Hedonic scores for cornmeal aroma and appearance ranged from 5.2 to 6.3 and 5.6 to 7.0, respectively. Hedonic scores for overall acceptability of cornmeal cereal and corn bread varied from 4.5 to 6.0 and 6.0 to 7.1, respectively. Acceptance of the cornmeal in a regular diet ranged from 44 to 76 % and emergency acceptance ranged from 90 to 99 %. Headspace oxygen ranged from 0.309 to 20.4%. CIE L*a*b* color values ranged from 82.0-86.6, 3.2-10.1, and 26.3-50.8, respectively. Cornmeal appearance hedonic scores correlated with CIE b* color values (r2=0.75). Water activity ranged from .28 to .58. Cornmeal, especially as an ingredient in a recipe, is capable of retaining a high percentage of consumer acceptance over long periods of time and can be included in long-term food storage efforts.

Original Publication Citation

Bingham ML, Pahulu HF, Ogden LV, Pike OA. June 26. Quality of cornmeal stored long-term in a low oxygen atmosphere. Poster presentation. Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting.

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Life Sciences


Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Science