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Light and Meat
Bacterial Growth on Fresh Meat in Supermarket Merchandisers

Prevent Moraxella catarrhalis bacteriaThe heat and UV radiation generated by regular meat display case lighting raises the surface temperature of meat displays and causes bacterial growth to increase exponentially. Vacuum packaging does not prevent bacterial growth; Canada loses $200 million each year due to vacuum packed beef spoiled by lactic acid bacteria.

The microorganisms that attach rapidly to meat surfaces during meat processing and are primarily responsible for meat spoilage are psychrotrophic bacteria, meaning those that are able to grow in cold temperatures, and tend to be in the genus Pseudomonas. Other species of meat bacteria belong to the Moraxella, Pyschrobacter and Acinetobacter genuses. Prevent Bacterial Growth like Acinetobacter spp.

In ground meats, the bacteria are mixed throughout the meat during the grinding process, but for other cuts of meat, the bacteria are only found on the surface of the meat cuts. While these bacteria are not harmful per se, they consume oxygen which triggers the formation of the brown pigment metmyoglobin, accelerating meat discoloration and decomposition, and can reduce the shelf life of fresh beef to 2 to 3 days.

Meat spoilage from bacterial growth causes organoleptic changes such as an unpleasant odor, a change in color to brown or grey, the formation of slime, the release of toxins, and an off flavor.

PROMOLUX Food Specific Fluorescent Lamps and LEDs

PROMOLUX balanced spectrum lamps and LEDs emit lower levels of heat and ultraviolet radiation than regular supermarket fluorescent lamps, thus reducing the rate of meat decomposition. One of the first things that grocery stores notice after they switch to PROMOLUX lighting is that their meat display cases no longer smell unclean, because the lighting does not heat the blood and residue from meat packages to temperatures that encourage bacteria to grow.

In a test conducted in New York, the same display case had two identical packages of liverwurst; the only difference was that one was lit by a PROMOLUX lamp and the other was lit by a regular fluorescent light. After two hours, the difference in temperature was evident as the liverwurst under the PROMOLUX lamp did not smell, while the other one did.

Fresh Meat Displays

Regular supermarket meat display case lighting shortens the brief period when meat is blooming, turning it brown prematurely; increases the rate of bacterial growth; and distorts the meat’s natural color.

Retrofiting meat showcases with low radiation, high color definition and long life fluorescents delivers uncomparable value and savings to a retail operation. Independent grocers and butcher shops work hard to offer their customers premium cuts of meat, that is why it is so important to use a specialty display case light like PROMOLUX. PROMOLUX lamps and LED lighting compliment the merchandising of fresh foods and supports the retention of color, juices and texture all the while helping to extend the shelf life of the perishable food item.


The growth of bacteria contributes to the discoloration of meat and leads to spoilage. Most display case lighting emits radiation which raises meat surface temperatures even in refrigerated display cases, leading to exponential bacterial growth. <more...>

Bacteria are capable of multiplying in refrigerated atmospheres, but small temperature increases of a degree or two can result in an enormous increase in bacterial growth. UV radiation from display case lighting penetrates meat packaging and can heat the surface of the meat by 10 degrees or more. <more...>

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