Packaging of Red Meat

Correct packaging of red meat is crucial to the overall quality and shelf life of the product, which in turn affects the return to the customer/importer. The polythene covering (sheet or bag) must be of a size to adequately secure the meat content for exposure to outer contamination or freezer damage.

The methods of packaging and symbols are outlined.

Indicates that the meat cut has been individually wrapped in an approved material, such as a sheet, stock netting or bag. These are most commonly used on larger primal cuts. Individually Wrapped uses the cipher ‘IW’.
Indicates the product is packed into a carton containing two or more layers of meat with each layer separated by an approved material. Layer packed meat is most commonly used to layer small cut items (e.g. Flank Steaks or Backstraps). Layer Packed uses the cipher ‘LP’.
Multi Wrapped indicates the meat has been packed in a single bag or covering and contains two or more cut items. This method is most commonly used for small and medium sized primal cut items (e.g. Chuck Tenders – Lamb Racks). Multi Wrapped uses the cipher ‘MW’.
Tray packed meat is when the meat is packed into an open container or tray, and covered with a film. This is mainly used in smaller primal cuts or portioned meat. Tray Packed uses the cipher ‘TP’.
Modified Atmosphere Packed indicates that packs (primal cuts or retail ready tray) are wrapped and are flushed with a mixture of gases to remove the oxygen. The packs are impermeable to gases and retain the modified gas atmosphere around the meat to preserve the meat quality and shelf life by restricting the amount of bacteria growth. Modified Atmosphere Packed uses the cipher “MAP”.
Vacuum Packed involves the removal of air and oxygen from the packaging. This creates a vacuum and assists in the preservation of meat and improvement in meat quality due to the lack of oxygen around the meat that promotes bacterial
growth. Vacuum packing is adapted to all methods of packaging, including:
  • Individually Wrapped – Vacuum Packed (IW/VAC)
  • Layer Packed – Vacuum Packed(LP/VAC)
  • Multi Wrapped – Vacuum Packed (MW/VAC)
  • Tray Packed – Vacuum Packed (TP/VAC)

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