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The 10 Day Rule for Shelf Life

CFA was successful in securing the 10 day rule for the shelf life of chilled vacuum packaged/modified atmosphere packaged products (foods stored at 3-8oC).

For 4 years CFA worked to change FSA proposed guidance to restrict the shelf-life of chilled vacuum packaged/modified atmosphere packaged products (foods stored at 3-8oC) from 10 to 5 days. This would have had a detrimental effect on chilled foods making the production and distribution of many chilled foods impractical. CFA also argued that the 5 day restriction was unnecessary as current measures (the 10 day rule) are effective in assuring the safety of chilled prepared foods.

CFA was instrumental in drawing together various industry and research parties, resulting in FSA's draft guidance being roundly criticised for lacking scientific basis, with the result that ACMSF (Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food) put the matter to independent review.

This review was carried out in 2006 and the report presented to ACMSF by the Institute of Food Research (IFR) on 8 June 2006 where the ACMSF concurred with its conclusions, rejecting the proposed 5 day limitation. The ACMSF also noted that the 10-day shelf life recommendation for the UK was already quite restrictive and was not applied in many other countries. In particular, they welcomed the epidemiological evidence included in the review which showed that, over the last 20 years, there were no reported cases of botulism linked to properly stored chilled prepared foods. The ACMSF also recommended that the guidance should be brought to the attention of other Member States via the European Commission.

The review concluded that there was no evidence to require moving from the previous '10-day rule' and that it should be reflected in the guidance. A small drafting group was set up last autumn to redraft the guidance on this basis, and CFA’s Secretary General was invited to participate along with representatives of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, British Retail Consortium, Campden & Chorleywood Food Research Association, the Institute of Food Research, and Cryovac.

The redrafted guidance, which was further revised after consultation during the summer of 2007, was supported by ACMSF at its December 2007 meeting, reinstating the '10-day rule'.

FSA published the 'Guidance on the Safety and Shelf-life of Vacuum and Modified Atmosphere Packed Chilled Foods with Respect to Non-proteolytic Clostridium botulinum in July 2008.

 

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