AUSTRALIA: 'Fresh' meat stored weeks or months
Posted: January 30th, 2011 - 4:16pm
Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Australian consumer group, Choice, says supermarkets Coles and Woolworths admit they pump carbon dioxide and oxygen into their ''fresh'' meat packs to limit bacterial growth and extend the shelf life of their meat.
Choice spokeswoman Ingrid Just said the techniques, when coupled with refrigeration, made it possible for some meat to be stored for months before it was even packaged, posing potential health hazards for customers and that Clostridium botulinum was of concern because it could cause food poisoning.
Coles spokesman Jim Cooper said the retailer used carbon dioxide and oxygen in its modified atmosphere meat packs to limit bacterial growth and keep them on the shelves for up to eight days, adding,
“The packaging contains a mix of carbon dioxide and oxygen. Clostridium botulinum is an anaerobic microorganism, meaning it grows in environments where there is no oxygen. Obviously this risk is negated by the use of oxygen in the packaging.”
Mr Cooper said Coles restricted the shelf life of meat packaged this way to eight days. Stores with in-house butchers used standard clingfilm packaging and these meat cuts were not treated with oxygen or carbon dioxide.
Woolworths spokesman Simon Berger said that in the few stores that did not have an in-house butcher, meat was prepared elsewhere in packaging that contained carbon dioxide and oxygen.
Ms Just said some supermarkets, including Coles, also used carbon monoxide to prolong their meat's redness so it would look fresher. Mr Cooper denied Coles used carbon monoxide.