Product shelf life From March 2014 newsletter

Setting product shelf life

New member subscription–funded research will look at how manufacturers can check whether accelerated shelf life type tests are valid for their products, and how they might need to be modified in order to give meaningful results.

Pressure to maintain market share

All sectors of the food and drink industry are under increasing pressure to rapidly develop and launch new and innovative products to maintain market share. Part of the product development cycle is to set a suitable shelf life. For ambient stable products with a long shelf life (6 months plus), commercial pressure means it is rarely feasible for full shelf life evaluations to have been completed prior to product launch. For the chilled foods sector, although the shelf lives are much shorter, they might extend to 12 weeks or more for some products and there is still a desire to have the shelf life results in less than half this time. Chemical, biochemical and microbiological changes may be induced when the product is held under accelerated conditions that would not otherwise occur, thus limiting the usefulness of results from such tests.

This project will validate the 'comparison approach' - comparing the performance of the new product to an existing similar product of known shelf life under forcing conditions - as a method for accelerated shelf life testing. The method requires the boundaries for selecting similar products to be defined and to be validated.

Helen Brown
+44(0)1386 842016

Contact an expert