AUSTRALIA, North Sydney. Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) have developed the new shelf-life prediction tool for beef and lamb, and a retail trial of the model is validating its accuracy.
The researchers think that this method could reduce red meat waste by 10% as the data from the Australian Government shows that food waste is estimated to cost the Australian economy around AUS$20 bn. each year, with Australian consumers throwing away around 3.1 mill. t of edible food a year.
A series of trials have proved the efficiency of the new tool as the results are described as highly accurate. Three trials, funded through the MLA Donor Company, involving three product types have recently been completed. Data analysis for the first trial – shelf-life of vacuum packaged rump roast – has been analyzed and results show the product had a much longer shelf-life than what is currently perceived.
The trial saw vacuum-packed beef rump roasts processed and passed through the supply chain under 39 different pathways, with varying storage designations, storage times and storage temperatures. The time/temperature data was recorded for each pathway along with bacteria testing and a range of other assessments including raw and cooked appearance, color, smell and flavor.
The shelf-life observed in this trial matched what was predicted by the beef shelf-life model. Further, the model accurately predicted the end or near end of shelf-life. There was only one occasion when the model predicted the end of shelf-life while the product was still acceptable to consumers.
Following Dr. Ian Jenson, MLA Program Manager – Market Access Science and Technology, the new tool can be used to build confidence in the shelf-life of products, simplify the supply chain and provide a range of other benefits. "Better management systems will give customers increased confidence in product quality and protect the environment by reducing waste".
In the last decade, MLA has invested a total of AUS$1.75 mill in research work related to products' shelf-life.