Articles

What is Food Shelf Life Testing?

by Rahul G. Founder

Food Shelf Life refers to the product of physical, chemical, and microbiological processes, which are triggered by any of these contributing factors. The product's characteristics, including the quality and consistency of the ingredients, moisture content, and acidity levels, play an important role as external factors such as storage, packaging materials, and transportation of the products. Certain complex factors contribute to the shelf life of food, which is tailor-made by the professionals according to the composition of the products, storage, and packaging. 

Food Shelf-Life Testing helps you in defining accurate dates for your products by ensuring that the quality remains acceptable and safe for the consumers. Some of the tests undertaking by the professionals and food testing lab specialists include: 

  • Food-borne microorganisms such as Listeria, Salmonella, E.Coli, Campylobacter, yeasts and molds, Staphylococcus Aureus, Bacillus Cereus, Lactic Acid Bacteria

  • Total viable count

  • Enterobacteriaceae

  • Moisture content 

  • Acidity levels 

  • pH value 

  • Water activity

  • Fat rancidity

Accurate and reliable Food Shelf Life Testing help reduce the risk of product recalls and identify the causes of reduced shelf life of the products. The testing help in improving the products, processes, and ultimately the profitability of the company. 

Food products must meet both the national and international food hygiene regulations, which have their relations to the Food Shelf Life. Maintaining regulations helps in consumer safety and prevents the organization from facing legal complaints, which helps in contributing to the integrity and reputation of the brand. The Food Shelf Life Testing Labs Near Me work with each of the products throughout the Food Shelf Life Testing that follows a list of procedures including microbial indicator analysis as well as sensory, chemical, and physical analysis. For instance, if a product will last for 90 days at refrigerated temperatures, the company store the product in a certain way and test a sample at the beginning and at time points throughout the shelf life and even longer. 

The Shelf-Life Testing of the food helps in recognizing the way food product performs over time and identify the changes caused due to ingredients, packaging, or other contributory factors that helps in lengthening shelf life and increase profit. The Food Shelf Life Testing Laboratory follows appropriate accreditations, making the process reliable, efficient, and cost-effective. 

  • Important Components of Shelf-life Testing
  • Organoleptic and Appearance 
  • Microbiological Analysis 
  • Rancidity (Degradation of Fats and Oils)
  • The Most Common Methods Used for Determining Shelf Life of Food
  • Direct Method
  • Challenge Test 
  • Predictive Microbiology 
  • Survival Method

The organoleptic testing includes color, texture, packaging, aroma, separation, stratification, and taste, which are of high importance to a consumer when selecting a product. 

The microbiological analysis includes: 

  • Aerobic plate count

  • Yeast

  • Mold

  • Clostridium perfringens

  • Total Coliforms and E. Coli

  • Salmonella 

  • Mesophilic and Thermophilic Sporeformers 

  • Lactic acid bacteria 

  • Staphylococcus aureus 

  • Alicyclobacillus 

Simply speaking, rancidity testing determines the level of oxidation. In case a lipid goes rancid, the value as a foodstuff gets compromised and takes on a foul or slate flavor. The laboratories need to conduct proper rancidity testing for determining the shelf life of the product. Most of the food testing laboratories near me conduct the following rancidity tests: 

The Peroxide Value (PV) testing helps in determining the amount of oxidation in a lipid sample. Peroxides are the first indicator that the lipid is oxidizing. 

The p-Anisidine (p-AV) testing determines the number of aldehydes in a lipid sample. The professionals often pair the test PV, as aldehydes are the secondary indicator of lipid oxidation. 

The Free Fatty Acids (FFA) testing helps in determining the number of fatty acids that get liberated from their triglyceride structure. The reaction causes the lipid to become slightly acidic. 

Ingredient Activity (Degradation of botanicals, and other unstable compounds, as well as loss or gain of moisture)

The laboratories ensure that the bioactive ingredient in the product remains shelf-stable throughout their life and meet all the label claims until the date of expiry is of utmost importance. The laboratory analyzes several bioactive ingredients like Vitamins, EPA, DHA, Glucosamine, Phytosterols, Amino acids, minerals, Sulfites, Chondroitin, Caffeine, and others for determining the possibilities of degradation over time. Relevant products that undergo testing include packaged and frozen foods, dairy products, produce and juices, confectionery, and nutritional supplements. Most of the food testing laboratories offer six standard conditions for testing the shelf life. These include frozen food, refrigerated, ambient, tropical, accelerated, and intermediate. 

Considering the point of view of food safety, the shelf life of food depends on four main factors: formulation, packaging, processing, and storage. The most common methods used for testing the shelf life of food include: 

The direct method includes real-time studies consisting of storing the products under conditions similar to those that would actually face, to monitor its evolution in regular intervals of time. The main advantage of the method is that it helps in creating a very accurate estimation of the time it takes for a product to deteriorate. However, these studies take much time and fail to consider the fact that the storage conditions of a product fail to be stable over time.  

The food testing method consists of the experimental introduction of pathogens or microorganisms into the food during the process of production. The method helps the professionals to explore the conditions that the product would suffer in real life. The main disadvantage of the test is that the professionals can only analyze the effects caused by the studied parameters. Moreover, it is quite difficult and complex to implement the studies. 

The method helps in analyzing the different types of microbial responses to the food in various environmental conditions, which the professionals formulate based on the models of mathematics and statistics. The professionals use the study while developing new products, or while considering the possible changing conditions of the product. 

The method is a type of study based completely upon the opinion of the customer about the physical characteristics of the product. The method consists of knowing the attitude of people towards the same product with different manufacturing dates, which further determines whether the foods are fit for consumption. The method helps in establishing a relationship between the shelf life and the perceived quality of the product. Although the method fails to estimate the accurate shelf life, it is important in a complementary way that helps establish the best date of the product. 

The interest and practice of food preservation is not a new concept. Rather, it is an age-old practice. Salting, pickling, and drying food in the sun and air helped in extending the shelf life of the products. However, due to industrialization, food-producing companies provide the best quality food responsibly and determine their products’ shelf life.

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About Rahul G. Innovator     Founder

7 connections, 0 recommendations, 89 honor points.
Joined APSense since, August 2nd, 2019, From New Delhi, India.

Created on Jul 26th 2021 05:10. Viewed 34 times.

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