Red meat may be safe to eat up to seven weeks after it was produced, research suggests. Currently, UK watchdogs advise that fresh, chilled meat shoul
Red meat may be safe to eat up to seven weeks after it was produced, research suggests.
Currently, UK watchdogs advise that fresh, chilled meat should only be consumed up to ten days after processing.
The new study credits improved hygiene standards together with the development of vacuum packaging – however it is also important the meat is kept chilled to prevent bacteria growing.
New study suggests red meat may have a much longer shelf life than experts realise, which could potentially revolutionise the industry
If the research – conducted by the British Meat Producers Association (BMPA) and jointly overseen by Meat And Livestock Australia – is validated, it could revolutionise food sell-by date labels and cut waste.
Tests showed beef does not become toxic with Clostridium botulinum – which causes botulism – until 50 days after first developing spores, so long as it is chilled at 8C (46F).
In comparison, it takes 35 days for lamb and 25 for pork at the same temperature.
A BMPA spokesman said the findings would give meat processors the ammunition they need to apply longer retail shelf-lives to products, adding it will ‘benefit consumers and the environment through lower wastage and better sustainability’.
The UK’s ten-day shelf-life rule was set by the Food Standards Agency, which said it used ‘robust scientific evidence’.
A spokesman for the FSA said: ‘The FSA guidance was developed using robust scientific evidence, drawing on the expertise of the independent Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF).
‘The ACMSF recommended a maximum ten-day shelf life for vacuum and modified atmosphere packed foods stored from 3C to 8C in the absence of other controlling factors.
‘However where such controlling factors are present and where food businesses can satisfactorily demonstrate the safety of their product throughout its shelf life, then longer than ten days may be applied.
‘When relevant new science is generated it is standard practice to revisit the evidence base and we will now consider the findings of this report.’
WHAT IS BOTULISM?
Botulism, produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, causes an unpleasant poisoning with nerve paralysis and weakness.
They can thrive in canned foods, deep wounds and the stomach.
Between 2000 and 2006, just six cases of food-borne botulism were reported in England.
Diarrhoea, vomiting, blurred vision, difficulty swallowing and a general all-over body weakness and paralysis.
These symptoms normally occur within a day but can be as late as a week after eating the food.
Antitoxins can slow down the process and allow recovery.
Most people make a complete recovery, although five per cent of cases are fatal.
The same toxin is used for cosmetic Botox procedures, to paralyse facial muscles and reduce wrinkles.