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Shelf life: Indefinite?


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#1 Alex V.

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 04:59 PM

Hi all,

 

Been struggling with this for a bit, wanted your input:

 

I work for a sausage casing company, we make the outsides of sausage, basically the animal intestine that the ground meat is shoved into.  After cleaning and processing the casing is stored either in dry salt, or in a 90%+ brine solution.  This makes an environment so hostile to microorganisms that the shelf life of the product is basically infinite.  At least the industry hasn't determined an expiry range because their experiments took upwards of 5 years.

 

The casings are graded by quality and by diameter and strand length.  This creates a huge amount of variation among the casings each of which could be in demand by different customers.  

 

So my question is this: when the product is sold on an almost infinitely granular basis and has no logical expiration date, how does one deal with FIFO?  When we can we do use the oldest material that the customer will accept, however most of the time we're selling material that was purchased to fill a specific order for a customer.  Extras (and there always is) end up on inventory until we can sell that specific gauge and quality.

 

Thanks!


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#2 FurFarmandFork

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 05:19 PM

Most products that don't have a microbial end of shelf life have a quality one. Is there any experimentation on the development of off flavors from oxidation in the casing? Or could the casing become more brittle over time?

 

The other determination of end of shelf life will be based on the integrity of your packaging. If you're using plastic there's a general shelf life for stress fractures that could be used as a standard, chat with your supplier.

 

If however the shelf life is truely indefinite (for most intents and purposes something like >5 years), then it's going to be based on customer expectation. I used to work for a freeze dryer that had 25 year shelf life, so people didn't mind getting older products. But as a food manufacturer I would be suspect of ingredients more than 3 years old. Even if it's something like salt that has no reason to have gone "bad", there was a lot of opportunity for packaging failure or contamination of the product in those last three years that might not be visible.

 

And of course, always remember that a hostile micro environment for growth is not always a lethal one, and may still make your casings a potential source of contamination in downstream products if there was an issue.


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For discussions related to food safety, production, and agriculture. Check out my blog at http://furfarmandfork.com/.

 


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#3 Charles.C

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 02:19 AM

Hi all,

 

Been struggling with this for a bit, wanted your input:

 

I work for a sausage casing company, we make the outsides of sausage, basically the animal intestine that the ground meat is shoved into.  After cleaning and processing the casing is stored either in dry salt, or in a 90%+ brine solution.  This makes an environment so hostile to microorganisms that the shelf life of the product is basically infinite.  At least the industry hasn't determined an expiry range because their experiments took upwards of 5 years.

 

The casings are graded by quality and by diameter and strand length.  This creates a huge amount of variation among the casings each of which could be in demand by different customers.  

 

So my question is this: when the product is sold on an almost infinitely granular basis and has no logical expiration date, how does one deal with FIFO?  When we can we do use the oldest material that the customer will accept, however most of the time we're selling material that was purchased to fill a specific order for a customer.  Extras (and there always is) end up on inventory until we can sell that specific gauge and quality.

 

Thanks!

 

Hi Alex,

 

Not my area however this seems to be a popular topic on the Net.

From a quick look casing shelf lives seem to be regarded as rather finite albeit subjective. And possibly dependent on specific details..

For example - 

 

Natural Hog Casings are shipped and stored unrefrigerated. Store in refrigerator when received and they will last up to 2 years (if package is airtight). Once opened, unused casings can be stored in a brine solution or granulated salt in original resealable pouch. Refrigerate unused casings. Do not freeze. Use within 3 to 4 weeks. Collagen Casings can be stored up to 2 years if unopened. Rehydrate in refrigerator overnight to reconstitute. Once opened, unused casings can be stored up to a year, in resealable pouch and stored in a refrigerator. Fibrous Casings can be stored 2 to 3 years or longer.

 

 

The Casing Boutique guarantees all natural sausage casings with a shelf-life of one year. In order to ensure this guarantee, store your casings in a cool, temperature-controlled environment of between 5°C and 10°C – ideally in the fridge. If your sausage casings are stored between 10°C and 20°C, their shelf life will diminish to six months. Store casings away from direct sunlight and heat at all times

 

I also noticed a short discussion seemingly between sausage aficionados here -

 

https://food52.com/h...lf-life-storage


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Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#4 MJOAOCARDOSO

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 04:29 PM

Hi, 

 

I thinkits similar to the BBE on canned fish.Sterilization gives it a eternal shelf life if kept in a cool dry place,but the can varnishes have a BBE date depending on the medium, more acidic(around 3 to 4 years) and less acidic around 5 years. 

regs


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#5 Charles.C

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 08:47 PM

Hi, 

 

I thinkits similar to the BBE on canned fish.Sterilization gives it a eternal shelf life if kept in a cool dry place,but the can varnishes have a BBE date depending on the medium, more acidic(around 3 to 4 years) and less acidic around 5 years. 

regs

 

Hi Maria,

 

I think the casing shelf life is for the unfilled item.

 

Regarding canned goods shelf life, USDA sort of agrees with your Principle but Geographic/Cultural opinions can vary a little, eg -

 

https://www.lifehack...an-expiry-date/

http://modernsurviva...f-life-studies/

 

Date labelling re "Safety vs Quality" is itself another topic with wide conceptual variations.


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Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#6 Derf

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 02:55 AM

Hi Alex,

Having used these materials extensively in the past (some up to your 5 years age)  and understanding that there are many differing grades would suggest the answer to your question "when the product is sold on an almost infinitely granular basis and has no logical expiration date, how does one deal with FIFO? " it does not really matter.

Providing you have traceability to the raw material and you do not go over what you consider is a reasonable life (say 5 years) providing the quality is not deteriorating to a customer receiving 1 week old stock or 5 year old stock shouldn't make a difference.

From a quality systems and general perspective do the best you can within the range you have, without tying yourself in knots about it.


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