University Of Tasmania

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Microbial spoilage mechanisms of vacuum-packed lamb meat: a review

Lamb meat is an important export commodity, however chilled vacuum-packed (VP) lamb has approximately half the shelf-life of beef under the same storage conditions. This makes the industry more vulnerable to financial losses due to long shipping times and unexpected spoilage. Understanding the spoilage mechanisms of chilled VP lamb in relation to VP beef is important for developing effective strategies to extend the shelf-life of lamb. This review has discussed various key factors (i.e., pH, fat, and presence of bone) that have effects on microbial spoilage of VP lamb contributing to its shorter shelf-life relative to VP beef. A range of bacterial organisms and their metabolisms in relevance to lamb spoilage are also discussed. The data gap in the literature regarding the potential mechanisms of spoilage in VP red meat is highlighted. This review has provided the current understanding of key factors affecting the shelf-life of VP lamb relative to VP beef. It has also identified key areas of research to further understand the spoilage mechanisms of VP lamb. These include investigating the potential influence of fat and bone (including bone marrow) on the shelf-life, as well as assessing changes in the meat metabolome as the spoilage microbial community is developing using an integrated approach. Such new knowledge would aid the development of effective approaches to extend the shelf-life of VP lamb.


Australian Research Council

BioMar Ltd


Publication title

International Journal of Food Microbiology



Article number









Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA)


Elsevier Science Bv

Place of publication

Po Box 211, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1000 Ae

Rights statement

© 2022 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Sheep for meat