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!
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.