Accurately determining the shelf life of pre-packaged food is essential. It’s not only a regulatory requirement. Any deterioration in product quality or safety risks consumer complaints and product recalls. But shelf-life is affected by a multitude of factors. Knowing where to look and how to analyse product performance is key. We have the specialist knowledge and proven shelf-life testing capabilities to give you the answers you need.
We know that the type and quality of ingredients used in the formulation, the product pH, water activity, manufacturing process and packaging format all impact shelf-life. Our multidisciplinary team of experts have extensive expertise and experience in shelf life studies and stability testing across a wide range of product types. Explore our end-to-end approach below:
It is not a legal requirement, but it is highly recommended that you understand the shelf life of your product in the final packaging. It is important to select the storage conditions to mimic how the product will be sold and stored, both in your distribution channel and by the consumer. The consequences of a shelf life failure of a commercialised product can be very significant and can result in customer complaints, as well as a loss of loyal customers, market share, a costly product withdrawal and damage to brand and business image.
Food products can be stored under accelerated storage conditions, speeding up any deterioration to enable evaluation of the shelf life. This is performed alongside real time testing. The challenge is selecting the relevant accelerated storage conditions to avoid causing ‘false’ deterioration or changes in the product that would not occur under normal storage conditions. Selecting the relevant testing to undertake is crucial, as some analytical techniques can be used to predict changes upon storage. Some analytical instruments can provide rapid estimations of shelf life which is particularly useful when developing and reformulating products. We design studies on a product specific basis so please contact us to discuss your needs further.
Ideally, it is important to understand what your shelf life failure mechanism is and then design your study around this. If you do not know the mechanism, we can help by reviewing the ingredients, product format, processing and packaging to determine the likely product failure mechanism. However, it is still important to ensure that you include a broad range of testing, such as microbiological, chemical and sensory.
This depends upon the food product to be tested, the anticipated shelf life, the design of the study and testing required. Typically studies last months and maybe even years depending upon the product.
Yes, we can support with this aspect. We would start with a scoping call to understand more about your specific food product in terms of formulation and packaging as well as storage and distribution channels. From this, our technical experts will design a study specific to your product to confirm its shelf life.