Shelf life Analysis helps determining the length of time that a commodity may be stored without becoming unfit for use, consumption, or sale. Shelf Life Analysis helps to determine this time period for any packaged food product. By analysing the shelf life of a food product, we come to know that:
- After a certain amount of time, the food is safe to consume, i.e. does not have any microbial growth or toxins
- The quality of the product has not deteriorated in any way; and
- The nutrient content in the food product has not significantly lessened in any way.
The shelf life of a product is determined by the following factors :
- Microbiological safety and stability (i.e. spoilage)
- Physical/Chemical changes (e.g. rancidity)
- Sensory changes (e.g. loss of texture, change of colour)
- Loss of functionality (e.g. breakdown of active ingredients)
Types of shelf life analysis
Shelf Life is determined by using various types of tests, based on different factors that effect the food products’ longevity :
The product is tested with the most appropriate microbiological analysis to monitor the microbial quality of your product.Shelf Life study ends when microbial spoilage is observed
- Organoleptic (Or Sensory Evaluation)
The product is assessed on sensory attributes like appearance, odour, taste, texture. Generally, 8-10 experienced panelists are appointed who test the sensory features of the sample. The study ends when product is disliked or unaccepted by the panelists.
- Physical/ Chemical Test
- Vitamin and mineral content : Tests are performed for determining the vitamins and minerals present in the packaged food.
- Nutritional content : It consists of ascertaining the various ingredients that are used for making the food product.
- Rancidity : The term refers to the state of the food product when it becomes totally inedible and unfit for consumption.
However, shelf life of a product is not solely dependent on the constituents of the food product. There are various factors too that effect the shelf life of a product, such as :
- Moisture, pH and water content surrounding the storage area
- Fat, Oil, & Alcohol content in the food product which gives rise to microbial activity
- Packaging of the food product and how resistant is it to environmental factprs
- Exposure to light and Storage Temperatures in the Storage area
Food Testing helps to determine how to maximize shelf life of a food product. By this analysis, manufacturers can know which factor/ingredient can be controlled, thus maximizing shelf-life. Products with very little shelf life (like products made milk, curd, fresh juices etc.) can be a major nuisance for customers, who mostly prefer products that last long.
Shelf life analysis can be designed to the specified requirements, so that all determining factors are considered and tailored accordingly. Equinox Labs has performed shelf life analysis for a number of clients, which has helped them maximize shelf life.
To know more about our services visit our website www.equinoxlab.com