SHELF LIFE TESTING

Close-up of a drink can top with visible shelf life label

Shelf life testing is a crucial process in the food industry. It helps ensure that food products remain safe, meet quality standards, and deliver the expected taste and texture throughout their designated shelf life. This not only protects consumers but also benefits manufacturers by minimizing waste and maximizing product marketability. CVR Labs is your one-stop solution if you are searching for shelf-life testing labs, food shelf-life testing labs, or accelerated shelf-life testing labs.

What is Shelf life testing?

The term “SHELF LIFE” refers to the amount of time a product is stored before it starts degrading or becomes hazardous for use. Shelf life testing is a systematic process that analyzes and establishes how long a product will stay safe, effective, and satisfy its original quality criteria when stored under defined circumstances. The product undergoes exposure to environmental elements such as temperature, humidity, and light to simulate real-world storage conditions. Through systematic analysis, it helps manufacturers and consumers assess the product’s stability over time, ensuring it maintains its desired attributes until its specified life ends.

How shelf life indicated on foods?

A food label usually includes an expiry date, either a best-before or a use-by date.

• A food item’s BEST BEFORE DATE indicates the maximum amount of time that it is reasonable to assume it will maintain its finest qualities, such as freshness. For instance, canned, dried and frozen foods among others have bests-before dates.

USE BY DATE is the longest period of time a food can stay safe for consumption under prescribed storage conditions. Therefore, such foods could cause you poisoning when taken after the expiry period. Some of these are chilled dairy products, cooked meat and prepared salads that have use-by dates.

Shelf life testing is all about figuring out how long a product stays good. There are two main ways to approach this: real-time testing and accelerated testing. Here’s a breakdown of each:

1. Real-time shelf life testing:

In real-time shelf-life testing, we have to keep the product under normal conditions (at room temperature or on a normal store shelf) and examine the product regularly for an extended time. This could be anything from a few months to years (depending upon their actual shelf life period) and this is what we call the shelf-life of the product. We measure it this way to ensure that the product will remain stable on the shelf just like the ones that consumers will be buying.

BENEFITS OF REAL-TIME SHELF LIFE TESTING

Accuracy: This technique provides the most accurate results of how a product degrades in actual conditions. It contains the consideration of the situations, such as the temperature changes that might occur when storing the products at home.

Safety: Through careful observation of the product you will be sure that it is safe for usage throughout the product’s lifespan.

DRAWBACKS OF REAL-TIME TESTING

Time: The biggest disadvantage in fact. The long waiting period for results can be a big obstacle for product launches to be delayed.

Limited Scope: The testing is done at one storage condition only, thus; it might not show how the product degrades under different scenarios that consumers might face.

WHO USE REAL-TIME TESTING?

Such method is the perfect one for products with a long shelf life such as canned goods, dry ingredients, or certain pharmaceuticals. The fact that it is also useful for the verification of the findings of the Accelerated Shelf Life Testing (ASLT), which we are going to discuss next, is the main reason of its importance.

2. Accelerated shelf life testing (ASLT):

 Accelerated shelf life testing rates the decomposition in harsher environments such as high light, high temperature, or high humidity. With this method, researchers can see how a product will maintain its characteristics in a much shorter period. However, researchers then have to use calculations to transform the gained results using something different from the actual storage conditions back to the required levels. Let’s discuss more about this,

Imagine that you are launching your new food product which is quite tasty. However, you find out that its quality degrades much faster than expected. It may result in unsatisfied customers, spoiled inventory, and low profits. This is where the accelerated shelf life testing (ASLT) feature comes in.

Accelerated Shelf Life Testing (ASLT) is an advanced scientific approach that helps predict the product’s shelf life which is kept a fraction of the time it takes under normal storage conditions. ASLT finds it necessary to be harsh on food products by exposing them to higher-than-normal temperatures, humidity, and light, which leads to the acceleration of natural deterioration. Scientists finally use these tests to estimate how these stressed products would handle real-life situations like those on a store shelf.

BENEFITS OF Accelerated Shelf Life Testing

Speed is Key: This approach is faster than the normal way of getting shelf life data, which is important to get the product to the market sooner.

Cost-Effective: As it has less time it is cheaper, Accelerated Shelf Life Testing (ASLT) can be a more budget-friendly technique.

DRAWBACKS of aslt

Not Perfect: The fact that the conditions can be very tough may not be a perfect simulation of real-world degradation. There is a possibility that the results will not be precisely the same as how the product degenerates at normal storage temperatures.

Confirmation Needed: Thus, real-time testing is usually suggested together with Accelerated Shelf Life Testing for the final confirmation to avoid possible discrepancies.

WHO USES Accelerated Shelf Life Testing?

This technique is usually applied for new products or when changing the existing ones. The quicker turn-arounds permit for the faster improvements and optimizations that are made before the actual launch.

ASLT TWO (OR MORE) TEMPERATURE CHECK

Accelerated Shelf Life Testing (ASLT) does not focus on employing one particular type of temperature test. Unlike real-time shelf-life testing based on a single temperature, accelerated testing consists of testing at two or more temperatures.

In the traditional (real-time shelf life) testing, only a single temperature is used to decompose organics. CVR Lab’s unique ASLT involves two or more temperature testing processes. This advantage of testing at two or more extreme temperatures can create a more accurate prediction of the product’s shelf-life, which is used for real-world storage conditions.

(CLICK HERE to download the infographic explaining the difference between real-time and accelerated shelf-life testing methods)

Different storage conditions used in shelf-life testing and product storage:

Storage Condition Temperature Suitable For Benefits Considerations
Frozen
-15°C to -20°C
Highly perishable items (meat, fish, vegetables, ice cream)
Extends shelf life
May alter texture and flavor
Refrigerated
2°C to 8°C
Perishable items (dairy, meat, fruits, vegetables) [Perishable items=Items with a short shelf life]
Maintains safety and quality
Requires consistent temperature control
Room Temperature
25°C/60%RH
Shelf-stable products (grains, canned goods, snacks)
Convenient storage
Optimal humidity may vary
Intermediate
30°C/65%RH
Simulating transport/storage or shelf-stable with moisture
Tests resilience in warmer environments
Not real-world storage condition (ASLT)
Tropical
30°C/75%RH
Shelf-life testing for export/tropical storage or products formulated for heat
Mimics hot and humid environments
Not real-world storage condition for all products

CVR Labs Key Methods in Shelf Life Testing

Microbiological Shelf-Life Tests:

This is the most crucial area in identifying the safe condition of the product during the whole shelf period. Microbial testing detection for the presence and growth of potentially harmful bacteria and mold that can cause other illnesses and yeast are considered foodborne pathogens. Testing these products usually goes through the process where the samples are grown up with a set of controlled conditions observing whether the microbes can grow at the end. Different kinds of tests may be able to energy micro-organisms that are highly frequent such as E. coli, Salmonella or Staphylococcus aureus.

Chemistry Quality Tests:

These tests determine what kind of chemical reaction will take place in a product after being stored. They decide on how the product’s quality will decrease as time passes. Common chemistry tests include:

pH measurement:

Manage changes in acidity or alkalinity, which can influence texture, flavor, and microbial growth.

Oxidation testing:

The primary function of the lipase enzyme is the breakdown of fats, which if not checkmarked can lead to rancidity and off-flavors.

Moisture content analysis:

Monitors water loss, which may lead to changes in texture or products shelf life.

Sensory and Physical Tests:

These tests check for any changes in the product’s sensory attributes, including appearance, aroma, texture, and taste, that may occur during storage. The product is evaluated at fixed time intervals by professional panelists who decide whether it is still fine to withstand consumer appreciation. Physical tests, on the other hand, might be based on the changes in color or texture and consistency of the food items.

CVR Labs SHELF LIFE Testing Services

Shelf Life Testing Labs are Crucial for Food Safety. Our specialists will work with you on study protocol development and will be participating in all steps of shelf life study execution.

  • Protocol development
  • Selecting the test parameters for every product.
  • Shelf life study of the product in storage conditions.
  • Stability studies and reports compilation

A key determinant of food safety is the length of time for which a food product can be stored and remain safe. Food manufacturers must carefully indicate their product’s use-by date or best-before date to comply with regulations and protect their brand and consumers. Cosmetics, foods and beverages, medical devices, medicines, explosives, pharmaceutical drugs, chemicals, etc. As a result, they are under its control.

It is the outcome of physical, microbiological, and chemical processes influenced by any of the many potential triggers. This also includes factors such as product characteristics, quality of ingredients, moisture content or acidity level, and external factors including storage, transportation, and type of packaging material. Our experts can provide customized service that considers the formulation of the product, storage, and packaging of the foods. Shelf life testing helps define clear expiry dates of your products to ensure that the quality remains fit for consumption even after the product is no longer produced.

CVR Labs can perform SHELF-LIFE studies for various categories of food products.

CATEGORY:

  • Cereal and Cereal Products
  • Milk and Dairy Products
  • Ready-to-eat food products
  • Ready to Cook food products
  • Spices and condiments
  • Non-alcoholic beverages (non-alcoholic carbonated, carbonated water)
  • Fruits and Vegetable Products
  • Frozen Raw Meat Products
  • Bakery & Confectionery products
  • Nutraceuticals

PRODUCTS:

  • Raw and processed or finished food grain whole and powdered products – rice, wheat, maize, chana, wheat flour, infant food, soya flour, corn flour, besan, cornflakes, sattu, suji, dalia, barley, malt-based foods.
  • Cheese, dairy-whitener, SMP, sweets, paneer, ice-creams, yoghurts, butter etc.
  • Examples include snacks, energy drinks, energy bars, cake, and others.
  • Khichadi, dosa batter, dhokla, poha, and so on.
  • Sachets of powdered chilli, amchoor, imli, methi, haldi, clove, cardamon, coriander, black pepper, masala blends, cumin, dal chini, soy sauce and the like.
  • Artificial syrups for fruit syrups, sharbat, squashes, crushes, and dispensers, among other uses.
  • Raw, processed, etc., fruits and related products.
  • Sugar crystals, caster sugar, cane sugar, gur, icing sugar.
  • Mutton, Chicken, Prawns, Fish etc.
  • Biscuits, hard-boiled confectionery, biscuits, sweets namkeen, toffee and lozenges. Bubble gum etc.
  • Health Supplements, Capsules etc.

The shelf life testing process facilitates the evaluation of how long food products would last and their quality. Confirms that the products remain safe and maintain their desired attributes over the stated shelf life, CVR Labs, a trusted shelf life testing lab in Chennai, provides complete shelf life testing, which helps businesses meet regulations, reduce waste, and create a loyal market base. Our knowledge of physical, chemical, and microbiological characteristics optimizes the quality to ensure the correct results.

Testing Parameters Of FOOD Shelf Life Testing

Shelf life study involves detailed chemical and physical, as well as microbiological analysis of food product quality and hygiene.

PHYSICAL PARAMETERS CHEMICAL PARAMETERS MICROBIOLOGICAL PARAMETERS
Appearance
Moisture Content
Total Viable Count
Odour
Water Activity
Yeasts and Moulds
Colour
pH
Coliform
Taste
Acidity
Salmonella
Texture
Alcoholic Acidity
Campylobacter
-
Peroxide Value
E. coli
-
Acid Value
Staphylococcus Aureus
-
Free Fatty Acids (FFA)
Bacillus Cereus
-
Rancidity
Lactic Acid Bacteria
-
Fat
Enterobacteriaceae
-
Protein
-
-
Salt
-

CONTACT US for more information about our shelf life testing services, Our team of experts is ready to assist you with your shelf life testing needs and provide tailored solutions for your business.

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