UK Supermarket Optimizes Lighting to Solve Meat Discoloration Problem

The right lighting not only speeds up the growth of plants and boosts energy of people; it also slows down the discoloring of prepacked meat and lessens the problem of food waste. UK supermarket Coop tackled the issue of meat discoloration by changing the lighting of its refrigerators.

The packaged meat stored in refrigerated cabinets would discolor over time and look less attractive to customer. The discoloration is a big issue for grocery retailers as they often have to withdraw the products from sale while they are still safe to eat.

(Image: Philips Lighting)

Coop in the UK tries to solve the problem by adjusting lighting. Initially it changed the color temperature of the LED lighting strips in the refrigerator from 4000K to 2700K. The discoloration decreased but the products’ visual appeal was also affected. Coop then cooperated with Philips Lighting (under the brand Signify) and Epta UK, a refrigeration cabinet supplier to find an alternative solution.

Philips Lighting proposed a trial with its InteGrade narrow beam fixtures. Featured with low-powered LED chips and 30° narrow beam technology, the product can reduces hotspots, increases light uniformity and improves the presentation of frozen and chilled goods, with no canopy lighting required.

After the trail installation of the LED fixtures, the retailer reported no visible discoloration after 24 hours. After five days, there was no discoloration on the top shelf, and only early signs of discoloration on the meats closest to the mullions. By the eighth day, meats closest to the mullions showed minimal discoloration, though still at acceptable levels. Only by the thirteenth day did increased levels of discoloration appear.

The success lighting trail led to the new refrigerated cabinets equipped with lighting solution from Philips Lighting. Adrian Crowther, Technical Performance and Design Manager at Coop, said, “Coop FM and Food Technology team worked extensively to identify a method of reducing wastage caused by discoloration on prepacked products. The solution was proposed by Philips Lighting, in conjunction with the Meat Packing partners, having reviewed several options to reduce the effects contributing to the problem. It was determined that modifying the light emitters to reduce the problem would be the preferred option.”

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