Research challenges UK’s 10-day rule on fresh chilled meat

Research challenges UK’s 10-day rule on fresh chilled meat
Credit: El Nariz

Research into whether a retail shelf life of greater than ten days can be applied to fresh chilled meat looks set to challenge the sector’s status quo.

The British Meat Processors Association (BPMA) and Meat and Livestock Australia have over the last year have jointly funded the independent research.

The recently published results point to the fact that the Food Standard Authority’s 2017 guidance could be challenged.

Subject to further review, retail shelf life could be extended beyond the current recommended 10-day shelf life limit for vacuum and modified atmosphere packed fresh meat.

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 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.  

BMPA’s Technical Operations Director, David Lindars, who co-ordinated the research project, said: “The shelf life of fresh red meat held at 3°C to 8°C is of great significance to industry. These new scientific findings will give meat processors the ammunition they need to apply longer retail shelf lives to their products.”

He added: “It is not just the commercial benefit to producers, processors and retailers that will result from these findings.

“Longer shelf life of products will also benefit consumers and the environment through lower wastage and better sustainability.

“It’s a significant piece of research which will bring significant benefits to everyone involved in the production, selling and consumption of British meat products.”