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The shelf life and quality of Australian frozen red meat day 0

Project start date: 15 May 2018
Project end date: 15 October 2020
Publication date: 19 February 2021
Livestock species: Grass-fed Cattle, Sheep, Lamb
Relevant regions: National


While there is an extensive amount of research on shelf life and quality of fresh red meat, those of frozen meat produced in Australia remains unclear, especially in relation to storage temperature and time. The lack of required temperature and storage time in the Australian regulations necessitates knowledge in this area to assure consistent quality for exported Australian frozen meat.

This study was the first stage of a two-part project to test the quality of Australian frozen red meat at 3 days in storage. This stage of the project collected information on texture, colour, water holding capacity, lipid oxidation and microbiology of red meat shortly after freezing, to capture 'day 0' data that would support and inform stage 2 of the project (38 months).

The second phase of this project (V.MFS.0428) will examine the quality, shelf life and sensory evaluation over these meat products which will be subjected to variables in existing supply chain including transport and storage conditions (varying temperature and time). The data from this project sever as reference data for comparison purpose.


In this project, instrumental, chemical and microbiological testing was conducted using beef and sheepmeat shortly after freezing (assigned as day 0 samples), to collect baseline data to support stage two of the project (36 months).

Key findings

  • Initial results of this project showed significant variations in pH, colour and thaw loss of different beef and lamb trim grades.
  • Lamb short loins appeared darker in colour, had a higher pH and lower thaw loss compared to beef striploins.
  • Similar cooking loss, tenderness and lipid oxidation was observed between the beef and lamb loins and between the trims.

Benefits to industry

There is a lack of scientific data to support the shelf life for frozen red meat being 24 months. Consequently, the main aim of this project is to generate scientifically verifiable data to prove whether Australian beef and lamb can achieve a frozen storage life of 24 months.

MLA action

The raw data and results from this project will be combined and compared during phase 2 of the project, which will look at testing samples out to 38 months.

More information

Contact email:
Primary researcher: The University of Melbourne