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Vacuum and Modified Atmosphere Foods

The Food Standards Agency has produced guidance and a factsheet to help minimise the risk of Clostridium botulinum in vacuum and modified atmosphere packed chilled foods. The guidance is designed to assist both small businesses and local authority environmental health officers assess the risks.

Although vacuum packing techniques are used to increase the shelf-life of chilled foods by removing air, certain bacteria including C. botulinum are still able to grow. C. botulinum is a bacterium that can produce a very harmful toxin that can cause a fatal form of food poisoning. It is therefore important that appropriate controls are in place to keep the food safe.

This guidance sets out processes, such as heat treatment, pH and salt levels, that should be used if food businesses are setting a shelf-life of more than ten days.

The technical guidance and the factsheet are available by clicking on the links below.

A copy of the factsheet is also available to order from Food Standards Agency Publications at: or tel: 0845 606 0667.

Contact the Environmental Health department