Beef packaging systems to improve quality and reduce waste

R I Richardson, Frances M Whittington, Muhammad H Jaspal, E Genever, J DeRoeck, KM Matthews

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


Meat waste is the biggest component of food waste by value in Britain. A high proportion of this waste is due to discolouration caused by oxidation. This chapter shows that changes to packaging and meat antioxidant status are important in the control of oxidation and waste reduction. In addition, new packaging systems should result in less plastic waste associated with the meat supply chain.
Modified atmosphere meat packs are bulky and whilst maintaining the bright red colour of beef and lamb better than any other packaging system, they can induce toughening and lipid oxidation. Studies on pack size show that the gas to meat ratio in modified atmosphere packs, and hence pack size, can be reduced from 4:1 to at least 1:1 without reducing the colour shelf life of sirloin steaks. Reducing the oxygen concentration in the pack from 80% to 50% did not reduce lipid or protein oxidation but it compromised the length of the colour shelf life.
Several studies reported describe the dramatic reduction in colour shelf life that occurs when meat ageing is increased from 10 to 21 days in vacuum.
Packaging meat in vacuum skin packs will reduce the use of plastic packaging materials, extend the shelf life and allow tenderisation to continue during distribution and retail display. However, there is still effort need on the part of retailers to demonstrate to consumers the benefits of this type of packaging when it results in meat of a much darker and unfamiliar colour than usual.
Whilst too fast a rate of pH fall without adequate chilling produces tougher meat with more drip, it does not appear to reduce the colour shelf life of the meat.
Once again we have demonstrated the benefits of vitamin E for extending colour shelf life, and have shown that the reduced concentration of vitamin E in the meat of lambs finished over the winter on roots or concentrates explains its reduced colour shelf life compared to grass grazed animals.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDevelopments in Beef Meat Quality
EditorsJD Wood
Place of PublicationUK
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9781899043491
Publication statusPublished - 2013


Dive into the research topics of 'Beef packaging systems to improve quality and reduce waste'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this