Advice line: 1890 33 66 77

FSAI Cautions Butchers to Use Correct Use-by Dates on Loose Chicken Fillets

Monday, 29 November 2010

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) today issued the results of a survey into the microbiological quality of raw chicken fillets that were distributed to butchers* in gas flushed bulk packs and are sold loose to the consumer.  Although the survey found that the majority of butchers (92%) stored chicken fillets at the recommended temperature of 5oC or cooler; 8% did not provide a use-by date as required by law and 23% provided a use-by date for which they had no basis.  Furthermore, at least 23% of butchers provided a use-by date that was unrealistically long for the product to remain unspoiled in the consumer’s fridge. 

Of the 138 samples tested, 15% were unsatisfactory for aerobic colony count and 5% were unsatisfactory for Pseudomonas spp. at point of sale.  These results indicate that the affected chicken fillets may be a cause for concern with respect to spoilage rather than food safety for consumers.  Given that consumers may then store these chicken fillets in the fridge at home, there is a strong possibility that some of the fillets would show signs of physical spoilage, such as smell, taste or appearance, when consumers go to prepare and cook them.    

According to Prof Alan Reilly, Chief Executive, FSAI butchers should be following the FSAI guidance on best practice for opening gas flushed bulk packs, storage temperatures and applying use-by dates.

    “Although this is a small test sample, the findings show that 23% of butchers have no basis for the use-by date they apply to the loose chicken fillets they are selling their customers.  This is not acceptable.  Butchers should adhere to the FSAI guidance on applying use-by dates, unless there are clear instructions provided by the manufacturer.  Consumers should feel 100% assured that the chicken fillets they are buying are of the highest quality and that the use-by dates on the food label are correct.  If consumers have concerns about the freshness of their chicken fillets when they come to use them, they should take it up with the butcher and complain.  The onus is on butchers to adhere to best practice guidelines with respect to the opening of gas flushed bulk packs, storage temperatures and applying use-by dates.”

The FSAI recommendations are highlighted in its factsheet: Retail Display of Poultry from Opened Gas Flushed Packs.  The factsheet gives guidance on best practice for opening gas flushed packs, storage temperature, and applying use-by-dates.

*stand-alone butcher shops or butcher counter in supermarkets

Survey: Microbiological Quality of Raw Chicken Fillets That Are Sold Loose, But Were Previously Distributed in Gas Flushed Packaging

Factsheet:  Retail Display of Poultry from Opened Gas Flushed Packs