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28 February 2023

EFSA assesses the microbiological safety of matured meat

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The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has recently published its scientific opinion on the microbiological safety of matured meat, with the aim of describing the current practices of dry and wet ageing of meat, which is the most widely used method in Europe.

"Aged meat has grown in popularity in recent years among the food industry and restaurants, but until now there has been a lack of knowledge about its safety. EFSA's advice helps to fill this gap and provides a sound scientific basis for food business operators to produce safe aged meat," said the chair of EFSA's Panel on Biological Hazards, Prof. Kostas Koutsoumanis.

The report has assessed the potential microbiological risks in this process, including minced meat or MSM prepared from matured meat, as well as the optimal time/temperature conditions for producing matured meat in a safe manner.

After analysing the most common practices in this process, pathogenic and spoilage micro-organisms that could develop during maturation have been identified and EFSA concludes that matured meat does not pose additional risks compared to fresh meat, as long as it is matured under controlled conditions. For example, dry-aged beef can be considered as safe as fresh beef, if the ageing is carried out for a maximum of 35 days at a temperature of 3°C or lower.

EFSA experts have confirmed the validity of the use of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) and hygiene prerequisites (SSOP) systems used to ensure the safety of fresh meat are also applicable to matured meat.

The EFSA report is available on the Authority's website at the following link: Microbiological safety of aged meat