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fgjuadi

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Posted 21 March 2014 - 11:59 AM

Hi amigos,

 

We are in process of clearly labelling all of our ingredents with BB / Expiration and NOT using them if they are expired (and not buying expired ingredients becuase they are cheaper, and not receiving expired ingredients).  This is a realatively new concept to the team. Tragically, our ingredients with high turnover are the ones that last the longest, and the ones with expensive minimum orders always seem the shortest. 

 

Ive been calling manufacturers and distributors usually a few times a day to ask what the expiration of lot # 8675309 is.   I have one supplier of Spices that gives no expiration/best buy and one supplier of perservatives who said it lasts forever in good storage.

 

So, that doesnt seem right, and I'm trying to train employees to get upset if they don't have an expiration date.  I can't explain to them why this one spice is only good for 6 months and the other spice is fine after 6 years.  And I don't want them to be using 6 year old spices. 

 

Can I assign shelf life to ingredients if the manufacturer does not provide them by testing against the food safety releated product specs?  I don't particularly want to disqualify the vendors as they are great in other ways - will make custom blends for us, always ready iwth specs/MSDS/documentation, have 3rd party certs, etc.


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Posted 21 March 2014 - 12:09 PM

What I would do in that situation is get a letter from the companies on the shelf life/storage requirements of all of the ingredients that don't have an expiration date and use that as your starting point.

 

If you can't get them to put an expiration date on the pallets/products then you can create a system of putting them on yourselves when the items are taken in.  But you'll obviously need to know the production date of each lot which should be on a COA or some paperwork from the supplier.

 

If they don't know/have a shelf life then use a fifo based system to run through them in the order they were delivered or by lot number (in the event you get a lot that was delivered out of order)

 

That's a pretty unfortunate position to be in... your suppliers should have shelf life/exp date information for you.


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debaduttajayaprakash

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Posted 21 March 2014 - 01:53 PM

Hi Magenta 

I work for a herbs and spice company here in Britain and I receive many queries related to the shelf life of herbs and spices.  

Technically for a natural herb and spice there is no shelf life as over time they will loose the characteristic aroma and flavor . But from food safety point of view I prefer to assign a BBE date to each lot . When I assign a BBE date I take many attributes under consideration and so does the Goods In staffs were given to follow the same rule as documented for each ingredients. 

 

1, From food safety and public health point we ask all our supplier and manufacturer for a valid test result for EColi and salmonella irrespective of either the product is natural or been heat treated / Steam sterilized . We have a set a standard for EColi and salmonella i.e. Universal < 100 cfu/g E.Coli and Salmonella not detected in 25 g sample. I myself also carry out random sampling for these ingredients at least every 1 in 3 delivery from same supplier . If all is well we prefer to give a 24 Months shelf life from the date of delivery .

 

2. If for any reason we found any certain ingredient is still available in stock ( which is done every 6 Months ) in a large quantity and BBE adte is shorter then 3 months  then I prefer to get it tested for Yeast & Mold  and TVC load , which gives me a fair idea about the product standard and help me to take any further decision if extension is needed without compromising product quality .

 

3. If it is a herb or spice which is purchased as heat treated or steam sterilized , then we not only obtain a certificate of analysis from our supplier for entire range of Micros  we also  perform test for each ingredients above 100 Kg minimum received for TVC, TYMC, Staf.A, Coliform, Bacillus and entros ( For some ingredients we test for clostridium.p  as well ) and assign a BBE date from the date of our test report. Same procedure is followed for any outstanding stocks  with less then 3 months BBE date to make a fair extension without compromising quality and risking micro loads . 

 

4. For all our curry mixing, seasoning and mixed herbs blends each ingredients get tested before mixing and random testing schedule is in place for final product plus the blenders itself ( i.e. not less then 4 times a year)

 

We also test for moisture content  on a very regular basis to make sure there is no better chance for micro growth within the product during storage 

 

All the above test are done as per a risk assessment designed in house by myself  control the external lab expenses  :)

 

Here in England using  an external UKAS lab for all the micro testing is priced  very reasonable. i.e. £ 18.80 for whole ( TVC, ECOLI, Salmonella, Bacilus, coliform, Yeast & Moulds, Coliforms and Entros )  and add extra £ 2.60 for clostridium . Results are available within 5 working days in maximum some time within 72 Hours if requested. and Moisture results are available within 7-10 working days for £8.00 and can be done within 1 day only for a double price if desperate.  

 

I will say the above procedure is working for us and believe me we never had any issue so far in last two years since I put this system in place and aligned them all with our prerequsite programme so that it is practised as a standard procedure never get missed if any one is off.  

 

Let em know your view on it and 

Regards



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fgjuadi

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Posted 21 March 2014 - 11:33 PM

What I would do in that situation is get a letter from the companies on the shelf life/storage requirements of all of the ingredients that don't have an expiration date and use that as your starting point.

 

Would product specs with this info from their letterhead suffice, or do you think a separate letter that addresses it specifically?

 

 

That's a pretty unfortunate position to be in... your suppliers should have shelf life/exp date information for you.

 

My purchasing department thinks it's *fabulous*, but I've no idea how thet get away with it. Seems like it would open up room for complaints on lots so old the records burned in the great fire of '82. 

 

 


3. If it is a herb or spice which is purchased as heat treated or steam sterilized , then we not only obtain a certificate of analysis from our supplier for entire range of Micros  we also  perform test for each ingredients above 100 Kg minimum received for TVC, TYMC, Staf.A, Coliform, Bacillus and entros ( For some ingredients we test for clostridium.p  as well ) and assign a BBE date from the date of our test report. Same procedure is followed for any outstanding stocks  with less then 3 months BBE date to make a fair extension without compromising quality and risking micro loads . 

 

4. For all our curry mixing, seasoning and mixed herbs blends each ingredients get tested before mixing and random testing schedule is in place for final product plus the blenders itself ( i.e. not less then 4 times a year)

 

We also test for moisture content  on a very regular basis to make sure there is no better chance for micro growth within the product during storage 

 

All the above test are done as per a risk assessment designed in house by myself  control the external lab expenses  :)

 

Here in England using  an external UKAS lab for all the micro testing is priced  very reasonable. i.e. £ 18.80 for whole ( TVC, ECOLI, Salmonella, Bacilus, coliform, Yeast & Moulds, Coliforms and Entros )  and add extra £ 2.60 for clostridium . Results are available within 5 working days in maximum some time within 72 Hours if requested. and Moisture results are available within 7-10 working days for £8.00 and can be done within 1 day only for a double price if desperate.  

 

I will say the above procedure is working for us and believe me we never had any issue so far in last two years since I put this system in place and aligned them all with our prerequsite programme so that it is practised as a standard procedure never get missed if any one is off.  

 

Let em know your view on it and 

Regards

 

I wish I had the same confidence in my supplier that I have in you; seems like you have a pretty solid process :)  I'd be happy to hand off the responsibility if I could.

 

The thing about micro testing is, I can't test the spices we already have, becuase we have used them in product, and if I find something bad, I'd be obligated to test my retains for mirco and face a potential recall.  We use a tiny amount of various spices in a variety of products, so the bag lasts a long time and the recall list would be crazy long (which adds to the risk of the ingredient not having a shelf life). On the other hand, if there is something bad in there, I really, really want to know about it, as we have no kill step.  

 

Moisture Content on the other hand - that's very interesting to me.  I can test those myself (no in house mciro lab as I can not have positive controls, but in house moisture analyzer) and it takes minutes instead of days.  A positive result can indicate a probelm but not confirm a pathogen, which I like.

 

I think I'll end up testing moisture content for current inventory, and when a new lot comes in have it sent off to micro before releasing to production. Does the allowable moisture content target vary per item, or do you have a blanket standard?

 

Also thanks to both of you - I'm buildng my ingredient system and running into all sorts of little probelms like this with one or two ingredients, and each one I can cross off the list is another weight off my shoulders.


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Charles.C

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Posted 22 March 2014 - 07:16 AM

Dear magenta_m,

 

Shelf life is a real bogy topic IMO. Unfortunately it is also continuously sought information.

 

There are a lot of previous threads here on this topic but in most cases they have one thing in common – they provide no directly usable answers.

 

The usual reason is that to make a shelf life prediction requires a decision on the specific criterion(s). This can be either safety or non-safety related, or maybe both. The sub-choice can vary through the whole range of quality parameters and their growth patterns. It seems to me that product specification, per se, is a rather different issue although the implications may overlap.

 

If you are willling to nominate a target quality parameter, methods do exist to make the prediction ranging from accelerated to lengthy procedures. There are numerous published examples, some of book size. But no “validated” numbers are available off-the-shelf AFAIK except for certain, mostly microbiological, situations, eg L.mono./chilled RTE foods.

 

IMEX rules of thumb are frequently used, based on company (proprietary) experience (or acquisition). Some are anecdotal, some not. Auditors tend to go along with this policy provided some hard data exists for some “representative” items. Simple economics also comes in to the calculation of course. Some of the use by dates on frozen foods I have encountered are pure  fantasy land but survive because the product is typically consumed well before the theoretical expiry date.

 

It’s another grey area.

 

Rgds / Charles.C


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


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fgjuadi

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Posted 22 March 2014 - 01:12 PM


 

There are a lot of previous threads here on this topic but in most cases they have one thing in common – they provide no directly usable answers.

 

UGH, sooo many old threads.  I kept finding ones about shelf life expiring.  

 

IMEX rules of thumb are frequently used, based on company (proprietary) experience (or acquisition). Some are anecdotal, some not. Auditors tend to go along with this policy provided some hard data exists for some “representative” items. Simple economics also comes in to the calculation of course. Some of the use by dates on frozen foods I have encountered are pure  fantasy land but survive because the product is typically consumed well before the theoretical expiry date.

 

It’s another grey area.

 

Rgds / Charles.C

 

Oh!  That was exactly what I was trying to stop!  Our R&D guy really knows very well when best buy dates are bogus cuz he's been in hte business for decades and really knows if something will cause problems.  I kept hearing "We'll use expired ____ because Mr. X said so"    "Mr. X uses expired _____ and his creations are delicious!"  And I was thinking "Yeah, MrX is right, but we will not extend shelf life without a manufacturer approval" which is surprisingly difficult to explain to the floor - Use NOTHING without an expiration date, unless It's one of these 20 things, in which case, anything goes!

 

In this case, I think there are a number of suppliers of spices that will offer a shelf life, so I will discuss with purchasing & R&D about exploring other options. 

 

Here's how I imagined an audit would go:

Me: "And here are all of our clean, organized ingredients we inspect and use FIFO on and have vendor approval on and COA for and use in a timely and safe manner and strain before use and check the SKU and expiration before use"

 

Auditor:  "I see.  And when does" <grabs an ingredient with a "forever" expiration becuase it's the only one unlabled> "THIS expire? Bawahahaha"

 

Me: "Well, some guy across the country in R&D with no qualifications or background in QA/Science said it was probably okay, and it's super cheap"


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Bean Queen

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 11:30 PM

.How do you determine if a product has indeed exceeded its shelf life? Odor, aroma, taste, etc?  Shelf life will be impacted by storage conditions.I do not think micro testing is a good indicator for shelf life determination of spices.



Charles.C

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 11:51 PM

.How do you determine if a product has indeed exceeded its shelf life? Odor, aroma, taste, etc?  Shelf life will be impacted by storage conditions.I do not think micro testing is a good indicator for shelf life determination of spices.

 

Dear Bean queen,

 

So what do you suggest for spices ?

 

Rgds / Charles.C


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


jenky

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 06:18 PM

MM -

I work for a spice and seasoning company.  For spices, you are not looking for a true "expiration" date, but a shelf life guideline.  Yes, it does vary by type of spice and form - whole spices last longer than ground spices, spices last longer than leafy herbs, etc.  To determine what you have in inventory is still good, do a sensory evaluation - quick and easy.  Does it still taste, smell, and look right?  Spices will lose aroma, flavor, and even change color with age.  Are old spices the "bad" or "unsafe" - no, but probably not the quality of ingredient you want to use in your product.

 

I would not recommend micro testing for shelf life tested in spices as the water activity of spices is below the threshold of growth from most microorganisms, except extremely xerophilic molds/yeasts.  So, a waste of time and money.  Moisture analysis may be somewhat helpful if your concerned about the storage conditions (e.g. humidity, etc), but this is going to be more time-consuming than a sensory analysis for not much benefit unless, like I said, there is concern about the storage conditions.  The guidelines for moisture levels in spices varies by spice.   Attached is a document from ASTA with recommendations for moisture levels - see page 15.  There are some other books out there too that can help you with specifications for spices, e.g. moisture, vo, etc.  I recommend "Spices and Seasonings: A Food Technology Handbook" by Tainter and Grenis. 

 

A good, spice supplier should give you some guidance on shelf life.  If not, you might want to ask why are buying from these guys?  You can also check out the national spice retailer websites.  They will have some very generic guidelines that you can follow, but it is a good place to start.

 

Good luck ... getting folks to understand that while some ingredients may not ever "go bad" doesn't mean that the QUALITY is acceptable to use is challenging sometimes. 

Attached Files



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Posted 29 March 2014 - 08:28 AM

Dear magenta_m,

 

After a little net digging here are a few items to mull over. They expand the informative comments from previous posters. Presented In increasing order of complexity -

 

http://www.spicesinc...-and-herbs.aspx

http://www.eatbydate.com/other/spices/

http://www.eatbydate...do-spices-last/

 

Attached File  ses1 - Shelf Life Study of Seasoning.pdf   437.2KB   124 downloads

(mainly not English except for references / introductory abstract)

Attached File  ses2 - Shelf Life Study of Seasoning (translation ses1).doc   464KB   89 downloads

("my-GG" translation of 1st attachment . Slightly approximate in a few places but the content is interesting, technically well explained, and quite readable IMO. Numerical results for a variety of mixed "flavourings" support the use of substantial intrinsic shelf lives which are available with, for example, appropriate moisture characteristics / storage conditions.)

 

The items below are more general food texts and contain both theory and examples. They illustrate the similarities / differences depending on whether safety / non-safety target criteria ae used. The second one has an elegant "micro. vs quality" decision tree in the introduction to assist choosing the most appropriate route.

 

A few predictive micro. treatments also exist which amplify the "X days after production" type rules, eg for L.mono. in chilled RTE foods.

 

Attached File  shl1 - technological evaluation of shelf life of foods.pdf   358.61KB   164 downloads

(mainly non-safety oriented, chapter from an older reference but content still very applicable. Technically concise/impressive with numerous practical examples)

 

Attached File  shl2 - validation product shelf life (mainly safety oriented).pdf   399.48KB   151 downloads

(after initial overview with decision tree, mainly safety oriented, 2011, ie oriented towards (UK) "use by' labelled items.)

 

Attached File  shl3 - shelf life procedures, Bin Fu.pdf   195.96KB   162 downloads

(posted here few years back, safety/non-safety scope, more directed to frozen foods but content quite generally valid. Detailed but readable theory with many examples)

 

Rgds / Charles.C


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


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GMO

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Posted 01 April 2014 - 11:18 AM

From experience organoleptic issues occur with spices so they don't necessarily last forever if you want them to have some flavour.  That said I've had spices in my cupboard at home I've used way past their shelf life and have still been fine.  Chillis lose a bit of hit, ginger definitely tones down the fire as does mustard. 

 

The best way, if it's possible to do so, is to taste it.



debaduttajayaprakash

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Posted 01 April 2014 - 12:37 PM

micro test do not determine the shelf life but at least after a long storage period it will work as an indicator from public health point of view. Water activity is main to tell if the product is fine or not from micro loads. 

Not necessarily organoleptic property will give you a safe indication of shelf life as ingredients with high micro count is not good to use and may cause product recall unless you don't know the end user and how it is been eaten cooked or uncooked. 



Charles.C

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Posted 01 April 2014 - 03:26 PM

micro test do not determine the shelf life but at least after a long storage period it will work as an indicator from public health point of view. Water activity is main to tell if the product is fine or not from micro loads. 

Not necessarily organoleptic property will give you a safe indication of shelf life as ingredients with high micro count is not good to use and may cause product recall unless you don't know the end user and how it is been eaten cooked or uncooked. 

 

Above maybe a bit hastily composed ?. :smile:

 

eg "micro test", "high micro count" require context to be meaningful.

 

Rgds / Charles.C


Edited by Charles.C, 01 April 2014 - 07:03 PM.
edited

Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


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