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Nutrition and Food Sciences

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News Article

Eating safely prepared aged meat is not riskier than fresh

Correctly prepared aged meat is not more likely to harbour foodborne pathogens than fresh meat finds EFSA research.

New research conducted by EFSA (European Food Standards Authority) has concluded that aged meat is not riskier to health than fresh meat. Myths surrounded aging of meat include those consuming it have a higher risk of contracting a foodborne illness, however with the correct conditions aged meat does not have a higher risk to fresh meat. 

For meat to age safely it must be processed through two main methods: wet ageing and dry ageing. Wet ageing is used for beef, pork and lamb that is stored and refrigerated in a vacuum package, while dry aged beef is refrigerated without packaging which results in a dry surface that is cut off before preparation – state EFSA.

Aging meat breakdowns connective tissues within the meat muscle, creating a softer tender meat and tastier flavour.

There are no additional risks involved provided that the specific combination of time and temperature identified in the scientific opinion are observed during the ageing process, said EFSA’s experts. For example, dry aged beef can be considered as safe as fresh beef if ageing is done for up to 35 days at a temperature of 3°C or lower.

EFSA scientists identified the main meat spoiling organisms – bacteria and moulds, and stated that as long as correct aging procedure is followed the meat can be safely consumed.

According to the research: “The microbiological hazards that may be present in all aged meats included Shiga toxin‐producing Escherichia coli (STEC), Salmonella spp., Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes, enterotoxigenic Yersinia spp., Campylobacter spp. and Clostridium spp. Moulds, such as Aspergillus spp. and Penicillium spp., may produce mycotoxins when conditions are favourable but may be prevented by ensuring a meat surface temperature of −0.5 to 3.0°C, with a relative humidity (RH) of 75–85% and an airflow of 0.2–0.5 m/s for up to 35 days.”


EFSA BIOHAZ Panel (EFSA Panel on Biological Hazards)Koutsoumanis, KAllende, AAlvarez-Ordóñez, ABover-Cid, SChemaly, MDe Cesare, AHerman, LHilbert, FLindqvist, RNauta, MPeixe, LRu, GSimmons, MSkandamis, PSuffredini, EBlagojevic, BVan Damme, IHempen, MMessens, W and Bolton, D, 2023. Scientific Opinion on the microbiological safety of aged meatEFSA Journal 2023; 211):7745, 101 pp.