Extend Meat Shelf Life with LED Lights

Replacing fluorescent lights with light-emitting diode units in refrigeration units yields the double benefit of energy and cost savings, along with extended shelf life for some meat products, according to new research from Kansas State University.

Kyle Steele, a recent master’s graduate in animal sciences and industry, compared LED and fluorescent-lit storage of five meat products—pork loin chops, beef loin steaks, ground turkey, and beef inside round steaks. The meats were graded on several factors, including discoloration (scored by trained color panelists), rancidity (light affects the oxidation of fat in meat, which can lead to taste changes), and operating efficiency. Meats refrigerated under LED lights scored consistently better in these categories and had a longer shelf life.

“Most meat products displayed under LED lighting had colder internal product temperatures, which helps extend product shelf life. Beef loin steaks and inside round steaks that were stored under LED lights can have up to one day longer shelf life,” Steele said. “Additionally, by extending the color shelf life, retailers have a greater opportunity to sell the product at full price.”

Steele will present his findings at the Capitol Graduate Research Summit in Topeka, Kan., on Feb. 16.

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