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How to test the shelf life of your food product

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Shelf life studies are conducted on various types of products to determine the length of time the product will retain certain qualities including acceptable microbial counts, taste, appearance, …

Shelf life studies are conducted on various types of products to determine the length of time the product will retain certain qualities including acceptable microbial counts, taste, appearance, vitamin levels , and odor. They are typically performed as customer requirements. This guide will show food quality assurance professionals the best practices for conducting shelf life studies.

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  • 1. Annie Hughes annieh@abcr.com Shelf Life Studies: A Step by Step Guide
  • 2. SHELF LIFE STUDIES • What is a shelf life study and are there different types? • Who should have shelf life studies done? • What types of products are suitable for shelf life studies? • What can affect the Shelf Life? • How long does a shelf life study last? • What information will I need to gather before contacting ABC? Step by Step Guide:
  • 3. SHELF LIFE STUDIES What is a Shelf Life Study? • Shelf life studies are conducted on various types of products to determine the length of time the product will retain certain qualities including acceptable microbial counts, taste, appearance, vitamin levels , and odor. They are typically performed as customer requirements. • The shelf life study will determine the “Best By Date” for your product
  • 4. SHELF LIFE STUDIES Who Needs a Shelf Life Study? • Clients whose buyer requires them to have a 3rd party lab verify or conduct a shelf life study • Clients with Value-Added products • Clients who need to confirm or determine the shelf life of their product or a competitor’s product • Clients in compliance with regulatory requirements • Clients who want to understand their products better
  • 5. SHELF LIFE STUDIES Types of Shelf Life Studies 1. MICROBIOLOGICAL 2. ORGANOLEPTIC 3. PHYSICAL / CHEMICAL 4. MICROBIOLOGICAL ORGANOLEPTIC PHYSICAL / CHEMICAL
  • 6. SHELF LIFE STUDIES Types of Shelf Life Studies MICROBIOLOGICAL •Your product will be assessed for the most appropriate microbiological analysis to monitor the microbial quality of your product •Shelf life study will end when microbial spoilage is observed **Microbial Safety of your product can be assessed by performing additional testing**
  • 7. SHELF LIFE STUDIES Types of Shelf Life Studies ORGANOLEPTIC •Your product will be assessed based on sensory attributes – appearance, odor, taste, texture •Generally 8-10 experienced panelists, but study is designed around your needs •Shelf life study will typically end when product is disliked or unacceptable to panelists
  • 8. SHELF LIFE STUDIES Types of Shelf Life Studies PHYSICAL / CHEMICAL ABC’s full service chemistry lab can analyze for: •Vitamin and Mineral Content •Nutritional content •Oxidation of fats / oils •Separation characteristics •Rancidity
  • 9. SHELF LIFE STUDIES Types of Shelf Life Studies MICROBIOLOGICAL, ORGANOLEPTIC, PHYSICAL, CHEMICAL •Combination of all 3 types of shelf life studies •Shelf Life study will typically end when one of these evaluations fails •Can be customized to meet your needs
  • 10. SHELF LIFE STUDIES What can Affect Shelf Life: • Initial Microbial Load • Moisture, pH and Water Activity • Fat, Oil, and Alcohol content • Packaging • Light Exposure, Storage Temperatures
  • 11. SHELF LIFE STUDIES Products suitable for Shelf Life Studies • Refrigerated Products • Ambient (room temperature)Products • Raw Products • Cooked Products
  • 12. SHELF LIFE STUDIES Duration of Shelf Life Studies • The duration of a shelf life study is dependent on the individual product • Client may have an anticipated or desired shelf life • Shelf life studies cannot be open ended, but they can be extended or shortened based on the results
  • 13. SHELF LIFE STUDIES Information to Gather • Determine the type of shelf life study you would like to perform • How many products will be tested? • General description or name of products to be evaluated • Desired storage temperature for duration of study • Desired or anticipated shelf life (i.e. days, weeks, months) • Package type and size for each product • Cooking instructions if applicable
  • 14. ENVIRONMENTAL TESTING We are here to help! To order environmental supplies, set up an ABC-R account, or just ask a question, we are always eager to provide answers. We look forward to hearing from you! 352.372.0436 866.233.5883 Clientservices@abcr.com www.abcr.com

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