Factors affecting microbial spoilage and shelf-life of chilled vacuum-packed lamb transported to distant markets: A review
John Mills, Andrea Donnison, Gale Brightwell
Food Assurance and Meat Quality, AgResearch Ltd, Ruakura Research Centre, Private Bag 3123, Hamilton, New Zealand.
Vacuum-packaging and stringent control of storage temperatures enable the export of meat to distant markets, supplying a chilled product that can favourably compete with local fresh meats. To save fuel and reduce emissions, the speed of ships travelling to international markets has decreased resulting in requirement for the shelf-life of chilled lamb to be extended beyond the recognised time of 60–70 days. Growth of microorganisms and ability to cause spoilage of vacuum-packed lamb are dependent on many factors, including the type and initial concentration of spoilage bacteria, meat pH, water activity, availability of substrates, oxygen availability and, most importantly, storage time and temperature of the packaged product. This paper reviews the existing knowledge of the spoilage bacteria affecting vacuum-packed lamb, discusses the impact of these bacteria on product quality, shelf-life and spoilage, and concludes that under specified conditions the shelf-life of chilled lamb can be extended to beyond 70 days.
Keywoards: Vacuum-packed chilled lamb; Spoilage; Shelf-life.