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What Is Shelf-Life Testing?
Shelf-life testing determines how long a food product can be stored under specific conditions before it becomes unsafe or unacceptably degraded in quality. This includes testing for physical, chemical, and microbiological changes that can occur over time and affect the safety and quality of the product.
The shelf-life of a product is determined by measuring various parameters such as pH, moisture content, colour, texture, flavour, and the presence of microorganisms.
Shelf-life testing is essential for food manufacturers, distributors and retailers because it helps them to determine how long a product can be stored and sold before it should be discarded. It also helps them to determine the appropriate storage conditions to maintain the quality and safety of the product over time. The results of shelf-life testing can also be used to determine the expiration date on the product packaging.
Why Perform Shelf-Life Testing
A ‘best-before’ date refers to the food quality (appearance, smell and taste) instead of the product’s safety. A ‘use-by’ date is used when, from a microbiological point of view, the foodstuffs are highly perishable and are, therefore, likely, after a short period, to constitute a danger to health.
This applies to most chilled foods, e.g. yoghurt, milk, and meat. Although manufacturers are responsible for determining an accurate shelf-life (as they are more familiar with ingredients and storage), the microbiologist can monitor fluctuations in indicator organisms to help determine a safe level to assist producers in bringing their products to market.
Performing shelf-life testing is crucial because it helps you to:
- First, determine the appropriate storage conditions: By testing for physical, chemical, and microbiological changes, we can help you choose the best storage conditions to maintain the quality and safety of your products.
- Improve product shelf-life: By identifying potential issues early, you can take steps to extend the shelf-life of your products and reduce waste.
- Build consumer confidence: By providing accurate product expiration dates, you can build trust and confidence with your customers, knowing that they are consuming safe and high-quality products.
- Comply with regulations: Government regulations, such as FSAI and HACCP, often require shelf-life testing to ensure that food products are safe for consumption. By performing this test, you can demonstrate compliance with these regulations.
Who is Shelf-Life Testing Recommended For?
Shelf-life testing is recommended for a variety of organizations and individuals, including:
- Food manufacturers: Food manufacturers ensure that their products are safe and of high quality for the entire product shelf-life. Shelf-life testing helps manufacturers determine how long their products can be stored and sold before they should be discarded.
- Distributors: Distributors use shelf-life testing to determine the appropriate storage conditions for food products and ensure that they are still safe and high-quality when they reach the consumer.
- Retailers: Retailers use shelf-life testing to confirm that the food products they sell are safe for consumption and high-quality throughout the entire shelf-life of the product.
- Government agencies: Government agencies, such as the FSAI and HACCP, use this test to monitor compliance with regulations and ensure the safety and quality of food products.
- Food service providers: Restaurants, caterers, and other food service providers use this test to ensure the safety and quality of the food they serve to customers.
What’s The Process For Shelf-Life testing?
We Can Do It For You In 3 Easy Steps – Simple. Clear. Accurate:
- Simple – order the test you need, and we will post your testing kit to you
- Clear – follow the instructions, collect the sample and post it back to us the same day for next-day delivery
- Accurate – easy-to-understand results will be sent to you by email
What’s Included In This Test?
The following is a list of some of the parameters our experts can test for in our 17025-accredited facility: