Australian meat has a reputation around the world for excellent shelf life.
The Australian meat industry produces meat products with shelf lives ranging from a few days (entire cuts and ground meats) or several months (vacuum-packed primals) to more than a year (frozen manufacturing meat).
Emerging markets such as China are constantly looking for Australian-made products because they do not trust their own integrity system due to high levels of food fraud.
This presents an opportunity for the industry to carry out the process within Australia and transporting retail-ready packs to market, however this also presents a challenge as shelf life extension is required due to increase transport time.
Meat spoilage is a complex phenomenon involving interactions among growing microorganisms, various biochemical reactions and storage environment. However, the growth of these microorganisms and the processes of spoilage are predictable in a well-defined ecosystem.
A long-term study at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) and University of Tasmania, funded by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) developed mathematical models to predict the effect of storage temperature on the shelf life of vacuum packed (VP) beef and lamb primals.
These shelf life prediction models are now available for meat processors and exporters to use to predict the shelf life of chilled vacuum-packed beef and lamb in general with capability of being tailored to specific supply chains.
The project determined the shelf life of various beef products (striploin steak, dices and mince) in different packaging systems (i.e., in Dar Fresh packaging and modified atmosphere packaging).
The data generated is also being used to validate the TIA/MLA shelf life prediction models with a view to extending their utilisation to other packaging of beef products.
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This research was undertaken at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) and University of Tasmania, funded by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).