Extending retail shelf life of meat may bring benefits to farmers

The FSA's current 10-day rule 'disadvantages' the red meat sector
The FSA's current 10-day rule 'disadvantages' the red meat sector

Extending retail shelf life for packaged meat beyond the current recommended 10-days could bring 'significant benefits' to farmers and processors, a new report suggests.

The ability not to be constrained by a 10-day shelf-life for fresh chilled meat is of significant benefit to farmers because technical barriers to trade would be removed, the report says.

The UK is the only country that enforces this 10-day rule. It also suggests that there may be environmental and consumer benefits through lower food wastage.

The report is by the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) and Meat and Livestock Australia, who have joined forces to provide research into whether a retail shelf-life of greater than 10 days can be applied to fresh chilled meat.

The results have been published, and points to the fact that the Food Standard Authority’s (FSA) 2017 guidance could be challenged.

The groups say that the FSA's 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, 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. New findings will give meat processors the ammunition they need to apply longer retail shelf lives to their products.

“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,” he said.