MANHATTAN, Kan. – New findings from researchers at Kansas State University indicates that retailers using LED light as opposed to fluorescent lighting in meat cases can significantly increase shelf life of meat products while saving energy. Kyle Steele, a recent master's graduate in animal sciences and industry, found that using light-emitting diode (LED) lights in refrigerated meat cases can translate into profitability by “lowering the operational costs of refrigerated cases and extending the color shelf life of fresh meat products."

Steele and a team of researchers and faculty at KSU’s Department of Animal Science compared the use of LED lights vs. the widely used fluorescent lights in meat cases by assessing how the lighting affected color, rancidity and the amount of energy used to keep the cases chilled. The researchers concluded that LED lights scored positively in nearly all areas.

"Most meat products displayed under LED lighting had colder internal product temperatures, which helps extend product shelf life," Steele said. Five meat products were used in the research, including: ground beef, pork chops, beef loin steaks, ground turkey and beef inside round steaks. "Beef loin steaks and inside round steaks that were stored under LED lights can have up to one day longer shelf life," said Steele. He also concluded that refrigeration units weren’t required to cycle on as frequently in cases illuminated by LED lighting.

Steele will present the findings of the research, which was sponsored by St. Louis-based Hussmann Corp. and Wichita, Kan.-based Cargill Meat Solutions Corp., at the Capitol Graduate Research Summit in Topeka, Kan.