switch to LED lights in refrigeration units could save the retail meat
industry millions of dollars each year, according to research from
Kansas State University.
Steele, recent master’s graduate in animal sciences and industry,
Silver Lake, found that using light-emitting diode, or LED, lights in
refrigeration units both saves energy for meat retailers and extends the
shelf life of some beef products.
using LED lighting in meat retail display cases, Kansas retailers can
save money by lowering the operational costs of refrigerated cases and
extending the color shelf life of fresh meat products,” Steele said.
“Additionally, by extending the color shelf life, retailers have a
greater opportunity to sell the product at full price, and the state of
Kansas can gain tax revenue from the full retail price rather than a
compared the use of LED lights and fluorescent lights in meat
refrigeration units because many meat retailers currently use
fluorescent lights. He worked with Elizabeth Boyle and Melvin Hunt, both
professors of animal sciences and industry, as well as with Melissa
Weber, recent doctoral graduate in animal sciences and industry, Collinwood, Tenn.
refrigerated display, the color of fresh meat changes because of its
natural chemistry and exposure to oxygen. Because color is a large
factor that influences customers in purchasing meat, some consumers
discriminate against discolored meat. These discolored meat products
must either be discounted or discarded, which has been estimated to cost
the meat industry up to a billion dollars each year, Steele said.
his research, Steele looked at five different meat products: pork loin
chops, beef loin steaks, ground beef, ground turkey and beef inside
round steaks. Steele looked at several aspects of these meat products
and their refrigeration units:
The researchers brought in trained color panelists to score meat color
changes over time while displayed under both lighting types.
The researchers measured the rancidity of the meat products stored
under both types of light. Light affects the oxidation of fat in meat,
which can cause rancidity and a change in taste.
efficiency: The researchers studied operating efficiency of the two
types of lights by measuring how many times a refrigeration unit had to
cycle to keep the meat cool and how many running hours that cycle
researchers found that LED lights scored positively in nearly all
areas. Most significantly, LED lights helped reduce operating costs and
prolonged the shelf life for most of the meat products.
meat products displayed under LED lighting had colder internal product
temperatures, which helps extend product shelf life,” Steele said. “Beef
loin steaks and inside round steaks that were stored under LED lights
can have up to one day longer shelf life.”
operational costs, LED lights had fewer cycles per running hour,
meaning they were a more efficient and cost-saving light source than
will give a research presentation titled “Shelf life of five meat
products displayed under light emitting diode or fluorescent lighting”
at the Capitol Graduate Research Summit in Topeka in February.
Steele’s research was supported by Hussmann Corp., a St. Louis-based manufacturer of merchandising equipment and refrigeration systems, and Wichita-based Cargill Meat Solutions Corp.