Meat to be given extended 'use-by' dates after report finds it keeps safe in fridge for longer

Lauren Clark
·2 min read
The recommendations for storing chilled beef could be raised from 10 to 21 days (Getty Images)
The recommended storage time for chilled beef could be raised from 10 to 21 days. (Getty Images)

An extension of “use-by” dates on meat could be introduced after scientists found it keeps safe in fridges longer than previously thought.

Researchers looked at whether it was possible to extend the shelf life of chilled beef, lamb and pork without leading to botulism, a type of food poisoning, or other health issues.

The British-Australian study – funded by UK supermarkets and processors – discovered that taking such a step would be safe.

The findings have been looked at by the UK’s Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food, and the Food Standard Agency’s chief executive Emily Miles has ordered further risk assessments to take place by autumn.

Read more: How to reduce food waste during lockdown

This means that, by Christmas, how long you can keep certain meats in the fridge could be upped by more than a week.

For example, the shelf life of chilled beef may be increased from 10 to 21 days.

Similarly, pork could be given a 15-day use-by date, while lamb may receive a 14-day use-by date.

David Lindars, technical operations director of the British Meat Processors Association, told the Daily Mail: “We are optimistic shelf-life will be extended.

Read more: What is cloud bread? The latest TikTok trend to try at home

“At the end of the day, it is a decision for manufacturers and retailers to set the shelf life of meat products. But longer use-by dates will be a significant factor in reducing meat waste.”

It comes after another report suggested supermarket shoppers have been more conscious of food going to waste during the coronavirus lockdown.

According to a survey by environmental charity Hubbub, more than half of people (57%) admitted they value food more now since the restrictions kicked in.

Additionally, in the drive to make the contents of their fridges and cupboards last longer, one in six are paying less attention to best-before and use-by dates, and eating more out-of-date food than usual.

Read more: Marathon bars are back! 30 years after being renamed Snickers

Almost half of people (48%) also said they were throwing away less food, with just 5% admitting to throwing away more.

Of those wasting less, more than half (51%) revealed they were planning meals more carefully (51%) and getting better at using up their leftovers.

More than a third are using their freezers more than usual, and are freezing a wider variety of foods.

It comes as it was estimated UK households generate 6.5 million tonnes of food waste every year – of which 4.5 million (69%) is edible.