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Emerging research suggests red meat may have a longer-than-expected shelf life

13 August 2020

An industry-led study from the UK and Australia demonstrates that the current shelf life recommendations can be safely extended.

The results of a joint scientific study between the British Meat Processors Association and Meat and Livestock Australia prove that the current recommended 10 shelf life for chilled red meat can be safely extended well beyond the current FSA guidance. The study sought to replicate the conditions and temperature that meat is likely to be stored at in a domestic refrigerator.

If these findings are implemented, this would be a big win for the environment and for consumers who currently throw away £3 billion worth of food every year (often in unopened packs).

A group, which BMPA co-chairs, made up of the Food Standards Authority (FSA) industry and specialist individuals from trade bodies is now compiling further evidence to present to the FSA at the end of September. They will conduct further risk assessments as part of a rapid review and will publish a report shortly after.

BMPA’s Technical Operations Director, David Lindars, commented: “We hope that the FSA’s final report will conclude that the risk assessment and the setting of shelf life will return to the food business operators as was always the case for the last thirty plus years . There is already sufficient legislation in place that covers the food safety of products sold to the final consumer – 1990 Food Safety Act is one of many.”

This is important news for British meat processors as it removes a significant technical barrier to trade because the UK is currently the only country that has and enforces this 10-day rule. The rigid application of the rule disadvantages UK meat companies who often either miss out on export orders or are forced to sell product at a lower price than their overseas competitors because the shorter shelf life allows buyers to negotiate the price down.

Mr Lindars, who coordinated the research project said: “The shelf life of fresh red meat held at 3°C to 8°C is of great significance to industry. We hope that these new scientific findings will give FSA the evidence they need to remove red meat from the guidance so that processors and retailers can apply longer retail shelf lives to their products”.

BMPA has made the full research report available to all companies operating in the British meat industry and across the globe so everyone can benefit from this new scientific evidence. This research has also been peer reviewed.



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