Beef has a requirement for refrigerated storage up to 14 d to achieve adequate aging and a tender product. To achieve this aging with little spoilage and no surface drying, vacuum packaging is attractive, because it is inherently simple and offers a clear indication to the packer when the process has failed or there is risk of spoilage. However, there is increasing pressure on the meat industry to limit the use of packaging materials in view of their cost and the cost involved in their recovery and recycling. The purpose of this report was to evaluate an alternative storage system in containers using modified atmospheres at reduced pressure (approximately 25 kPa). The quality of the meat for both container- and vacuum-packed treatments was measured during chilled storage for up to 3 wk. Storage time had the most significant effect on quality characteristics, irrespective of the packaging method. Storage in containers under a 70%N-2:30%CO2 gas mixture gave characteristics similar to beef stored under vacuum. Storage in containers under 100% CO2 produced less drip loss than under 70%N-2:30%CO2, but generally container storage produced 3 times as much drip loss as vacuum packaging. Shear force of the LM was unaffected by the type of packaging, and at d 2 after slaughter (i.e., before the storage trial was begun), sarcomere lengths of muscles intended for container storage were similar to those destined for vacuum storage. During the packaging treatment, the comparison between the storage systems was always done within 1 animal using one carcass-half for container storage and the other half for vacuum packaging; all bulls were shackled from the left hindleg during bleeding. The majority of the muscles from the left sides had lower shear force values than those from the right sides at the earlier storage times (2 and 9 d after slaughter) but had similar values after longer storage (16 and 23 d after slaughter). This is the first report that shackling beef carcasses from the left side can result in more tender meat in the LM from that side. The increased tenderness in the LM from the shackled side probably resulted from an early decrease in pH and an increase in calpain activity after mechanical strain of the muscles on the shackled side. This effect of shackling should be taken into account when designing systematic comparisons of tenderness in beef.