Clostridium Botulinum

Demonstration of the safe shelf-life of fresh meat with respect to non-proteolytic Clostridium botulinum

Fresh meat currently has an excellent safety record and FSA guidelines recommends a maximum 10 day shelf life for vacuum and modified atmosphere packed meat stored at 3°C or ≤ 8°C. Clostridium botulinum does not grow at temperatures <3°C and therefore food stored below this temperature is not covered by these guidelines.

In the UK there are large quantities of vacuum packed fresh meat and the current practices appear to allow a large safety margin. However, any extension to this shelf-life must demonstrate a high degree of safety with respect to food borne botulism.

The aim of this study was to consider the safety of a shelf-life of 21-28 days at 3-5°C, or 10-15 days at 8-10°C for fresh red meats with respect to growth of, and toxin formation by, C. botulinum.

The work was carried out by the Food Research Institute and funded by EBLEX, BPEX and HCC.

The final report can be viewed here.