New 'use by' dates on meat sold in supermarkets to be extended

‘Use by’ dates on meat to be extended to give supermarket shoppers 11 extra days to eat beef as food bosses get set to extend expiry dates before Christmas

  • Shelf life of beef, lamb and pork has been reviewed by Food Standards Agency
  • Chilled beef, including cuts with plastic wrappings, given ten-day use-by labels
  • But in the future, this timeframe is expected to be raised to 21 days in the fridge
  • It follows a report by British and Australian experts, funded by UK supermarkets 

The use-by dates on meat sold in supermarkets are to be extended.

Bosses at the Food Standards Agency reviewing the shelf life of beef, lamb and pork are set to give the go-ahead for longer expiry dates before Christmas.

Chilled beef, including cuts sold in trays with plastic wrappings, are currently given ten-day use-by labels. But in future, this timeframe is expected to be raised to 21 days in the fridge, with pork and lamb having 15-day and 14-day deadlines respectively.

Bosses at the Food Standards Agency reviewing the shelf life of beef, lamb and pork are set to give the go-ahead for longer expiry dates before Christmas (file photo)

The move follows a scientific report by British and Australian experts, funded by UK supermarkets and processors, which found it was possible to extend the shelf life of chilled meat without any incidence of botulism or safety issues.

The report has already been assessed by the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food. FSA chief executive Emily Miles has now ordered further risk assessments before a report this autumn to the agency board.

The move is part of a new drive to reduce 380,000 tons of meat waste a year in the UK, which is valued at £3 billion and is responsible for four million tons a year of greenhouse gas emissions. 

It is part of a drive to reduce 380,000 tons of meat waste a year in the UK, which is valued at £3bn and is responsible for four mil tons a year of greenhouse gas emissions (file photo)

Around 243,000 tons of this meat is discarded by households.

David Lindars, co-chairman of a joint FSA and meat industry committee overseeing the issue, said he expected approval before the end of the year.

Mr Lindars, technical operations director of the British Meat Processors Association, said: ‘We are optimistic shelf-life will be extended.

‘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.’

The urgency for an extended shelf-life is flagged up in a new report from the Waste and Resources Action Programme, which has the backing of farmers, processors, retailers and the catering industry.

The 26-page Meat In A Net Zero World study also calls on consumers to help cut food waste and sets a target for a reduction of 100,000 tons in uneaten meat by 2030.

According to WRAP, households throw out an average of 146,000 tons of pork per year alone –including 34,000 tons of sausages, 22,000 tons of bacon and 21,000 tons of sliced ham.

Research shows that around 20 per cent of these products are in unopened or almost full packs.

The move follows a scientific report by British and Australian experts, funded by UK supermarkets and processors, which found it was possible to extend the shelf life of chilled meat without any incidence of botulism or safety issues [File photo]

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