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Coffee and tea (in single serve cups) shelf life analysis


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#1 diorc1922

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Posted 18 May 2015 - 04:33 PM

Hi all,

 

Can anybody please advice me on the best method to conduct shelf life testing, biological and chemical hazard analysis for coffee, tea and dry beverages which has been packed in K-cups (single-serve cups)? I could send all the samples to an accredited lab but since we have multiple customers, the cost will be extremely outrageous. Based on risk assessment, the products should be free of these micro contaminants but BRC standard still requires us to have recorded evaluation. Please help. 

 

Thanks so much!



#2 xylough

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Posted 18 May 2015 - 07:40 PM

Dior1922,

 

Hi, Thank you for your inquiry. Do K-cups use oxygen barrier film to seal the cups? Is there a one-way off-gassing valve on the K-cup? If the answer is yes, it is customary for Shelf  Life Testing to store retain samples for the duration of expected/stated shelf life and then test for the presence of oxygen on the expiration date. Additionally, for any type of coffee or tea you may perform and document quality organoleptic blind "taste" testings on production day as a baseline and then again at desired intervals and end of shelf life to ascertain to what degree the organoleptic attributes have been preserved throughout intervals of the shelf life.  Of course developing teams (panels) of taste testers for coffee and tea is not a walk in the park.

 

The oxygen testing is a moot point on coffee that is not packaged immediately after roasting in oxygen barrier packaging of some kind.

 

I am not familiar with appropriate microbiological testing and frequency for coffee. To my knowledge and experience there is not a significant hazard risk unless maybe if the coffee is going into food, e.g., a chocolate bar.

 

It is becoming more and more common to develop sampling plans and test lots of coffee for the mycotoxins that are most commonly associated with coffee, i.e., Sterigmatocystin, Ochratoxin A (OTA) and possibly Aflatoxin. This test is more cost effective in-house because the fluoroscope and associated lab equipment is not very expensive compared with the cost of sending test samples out to an accredited lab on a regular basis.

 

Regards



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#3 diorc1922

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Posted 19 May 2015 - 12:02 AM

Hi xylough,

 

Thanks so much for the feedback! We flush out the Oxygen out of the cups and replace it with Nitrogen. We also do test for sensory (taste test and oxygen level) for shelf life. My biggest concern is actually having to do mycotoxins to every lot as you mentioned. Do you have any suggestions for an in house lab equipment? I'm not too familiar with this, i'm sorry...

Thanks again!



#4 Charles.C

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Posted 19 May 2015 - 07:11 AM

Hi all,

 

Can anybody please advice me on the best method to conduct shelf life testing, biological and chemical hazard analysis for coffee, tea and dry beverages which has been packed in K-cups (single-serve cups)? I could send all the samples to an accredited lab but since we have multiple customers, the cost will be extremely outrageous. Based on risk assessment, the products should be free of these micro contaminants but BRC standard still requires us to have recorded evaluation. Please help. 

 

Thanks so much!

 

Hi diorc,

 

You should be aware that shelf life is potentially based on one of 2 categories - safety or quality(def.here as non-safety related characteristics)

 

If you can show that no sig.safety hazards. exist in relation to storage, then the latter may be based on "quality" (eg a quality correlated total plate count, organoleptic factors). Accelerated methods are also available to save time if applicable.

 

As far as safety testing goes, yr "lot" problem is a classic testing dilemma. The most common solution is to attempt to "group" the products so that a sampling scheme is possible.  This approach is used in areas like foodservice where a vast range of meal types are involved but can be re-grouped into 2-3 haccp types.

 

It all depends on the risk analysis for the products/packaging.

 

if no hazards, it depends on which quality characteristics are regarded as "critical" and then basing the shelf-life accordingly. Again, grouping may be possible.

 

I agree with xylough that testing in-house can save money, sometimes a lot, it depends on the predicted volume of work / technical capabilities/cost. For example if a short external sampling run  demonstrates a stable pattern with no sig. problems, the sampling rate can be minimised. Its a risk/cost-benefit scenario. :smile:


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


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