Test Shelf Life

Shelf Life Analysis

Shelf life is the time period within which the food product is safe to consume and has acceptable sensory characteristics. You can check the shelf life of a product on its label, usually depicted by the mention of ‘Use By’, ‘Best Before’ or ‘Expiry Date’.

Why Conduct Shelf Life Analysis?

Shelf life testing or analysis helps Food Business Operators (FBOs) and consumers be aware of the nature of the product and the rate of its degradation. This information is used in the following ways:

- Consumers are given the choice of informed purchase.

- FBOs can maintain the FIFO (First In First Out) and FEFO (First Expired First Out) Policy

- The integrity of the product and compliance with the law is maintained

- The hassles of product recall and damage to brand equity is avoided

Who Should Get Shelf Life Procedure Done?

Despite the kind of food products manufactured, it is important that the packaged product carries its shelf life mentioned on the label. The Food Business Operators of the following type should get their food shelf tested:

- Food Manufacturers and/or Processors

- Re-packagers

- Exporters and Importers

- Retailers and Distributors

Important Tips to Improve Shelf Life

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Techniques to Improve Shelf Life

An easy and probably the most common method is chilling or freezing your products. This stops the formation of microorganisms if frozen below -18°C which can almost kill these organisms altogether. This can also stop the formation of bacteria and moulds in your product.
Microorganisms can also be destroyed by heat. So ‘hot-filling’ jam is a great way to stop their formation in the first place and is also used to maintain sterility in products. This method would be perfect for the products such as jams, syrups and sauces.
Drying is an old and well-established method of preserving your products. Removing moisture from your products helps their shelf life dramatically. If concentrated salt and sugar solutions are added to the packaging, it will tie up free water and make it unavailable to microorganisms. Jams and marmalades having high sugar contents do not require refrigeration for this reason.
Some chemicals can be used in conjunction with some other methods to prolong your product’s shelf life. Oxidation can be reduced by using antioxidants and oxygen absorbers. Oxygen absorbers have been used indirectly by placing them in separate pouches within a sealed pack.
If your product is prone to oxidation and is packed in an atmosphere vacuum pack free of oxygen, the degradation is removed. Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) involves the introduction of a gas mixture other than air into a pack, which is then left to equilibrate or change according to the nature of the system. Vacuum packaging may be regarded as a type of MAP, as it eliminates some or all of the oxygen in the packaging. However, if your product includes fruits and vegetables, this method is not applicable as they need air for freshness.
Irradiation is a process of exposing foodstuffs to ionising radiation. It is a technology that improves the safety and extends the shelf life of foods by reducing or eliminating microorganisms and insects, like pasteurising milk and canning fruits and vegetables. With proper application, irradiation can be an effective means of eliminating and/or reducing microbial and insect infestations along with the foodborne diseases in your product, thereby improving the safety of many food products as well as extending their shelf life.

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