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2.3.1.3 - Shelf Life Trials

Shelf Life Trials

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jportz

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Posted 25 September 2015 - 05:55 PM

We have never done shelf life trials on our products and I don't even know where to begin.  Can anyone help me?  We are a fermented plant who produces relish and brined vegetables in bulk.  We also do little retail of pickles, relish and brined vegetables.  I have researched information since we go by industry standard 6 months ambient and 9 months under refrigeration but, haven't found any information to back up our shelf life.  Can someone give me advice on where to start and do I have to do a shelf life on each different recipe that we produce?  I am so confused on where to start.

 

Thank You.



esquef

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Posted 25 September 2015 - 08:54 PM

There are companies that do accelerated shelf life testing (just Google; you'll find many), but real time testing is preferred, at least with respect to validation. With acidified foods such as pickles obviously pH vs. time would most likely be your number one concern. Under the FDA and or USDA websites you can see how acidic a product must be to be considered safe ambient temperatures. Water activity also plays a role in safe ambient shelflife.

Keep in mind that if your products make someone ill due to pathogen contamination prior to the label stated shelf life and you haven't really done your homework well the FDA is ready to pounce. That would be a "Use By" date. If, however the product(s) go bad and it's just a quality issue (foul taste, discoloration, etc.) it's a different story ("Best By" date).


The following is from this site:

http://www.shelflife...shelf_life.html

You may also find this doc from FDA useful:

http://www.fda.gov/F...s/ucm094159.htm

Real Time vs. Accelerated Shelf Life Studies

There are two basic methods for performing shelf life studies: Real Time and Accelerated. Real time studies store the product under the normal conditions of the product for a period of time greater than the expected shelf life. The product is checked at regular intervals to determine the point of product deterioration.

Accelerated shelf life studies attempt to predict the shelf life of a product without running a full length storage trial. This type of study is usually used for product with a longer shelf life. Acceleration factors such as temperature are applied to the product to attempt to increase the rate of deterioration. The data can be used in predictive mathematical models to project spoilage rates and bacterial growth. Accelerated studies should be used with caution, you must know a good deal about your specific product formulation and properties to interpret the data optimally.

It is always recommended that when an Accelerated study is selected that a dual, real-time study is also run concurrently to validate the projected data.

7 Steps to Determine Shelf Life

1. Identify what may cause the food to spoil ◦Product: raw materials, formulation, water activity, pH, oxygen availability, preservatives
◦Process: Processing activities, packaging, storage conditions

2. Decide which tests to use

◦Sensory: odor, appearance, flavor texture
◦Microbiological: spoilage and pathogenic organisms
◦Chemical: pH, free fatty acids, headspace analysis, etc.
◦Physical: product abuse storage and handling

3. Plan the shelf-life requirements

◦What tests need to be done
◦How long will the studies be run
◦How many samples for each test
◦How many samples for the entire study
◦What are the storage conditions
◦When will the study be run

4. Run the Shelf Life study

◦At time intervals established in step 3.
◦Run the appropriate tests in step 2

5. Determine the shelf life

◦Eventually a point is reached when the product no longer meets requirements for quality or safety, which is the shelf life
◦Usually a pre determined point is established to end the study if quality and safety are not affected

6. Establish working shelf life

◦Working shelf life will be less than actual shelf life due to real world factors such as storage conditions and potential product abuse

7. Once product is released to the market -> Monitor Shelf Life

◦Investigate any customer complaints or failures
◦Evaluate samples from production and distribution to validate study results

Good luck,
esquef



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QATX12

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 02:36 PM

Does anyone have Micro Limits/Standards for Relish?



FurFarmandFork

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 03:05 PM

Does anyone have Micro Limits/Standards for Relish?

There are dozens of threads discussing micro limits on the forum. Type in microbial limits or specifications in the search box on the upper right of each page and you'll find some resources.


Austin Bouck
Owner/Consultant at Fur, Farm, and Fork.
Consulting for companies needing effective, lean food safety systems and solutions.

Subscribe to the blog at furfarmandfork.com for food safety research, insights, and analysis.

jportz

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 03:08 PM

Our micro limits for Relish are < 5,000 for Aerobic <100 for yeast and <100 for mold.  I can't tell you where they came from because they were here when I started 8 years ago and have always been like that. 



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QATX12

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 07:39 PM

Our micro limits for Relish are < 5,000 for Aerobic <100 for yeast and <100 for mold.  I can't tell you where they came from because they were here when I started 8 years ago and have always been like that. 

Thanks jportz!

   This isn't my area of 'expertise' and would like to gain better knowledge of this particular product. Based of your history, do you find those limits hard to attain or do you see your product consistently coming more in the APC <100, YM <10 range? I'm assuming it is industry standard to heat this product, am I wrong? What about Lactic Bacteria do you worry about those? I was reading a section from the Compendium of Methods for the Microbiological Examination of Foods and they point to yeasts and lactobacilli (particularly Lactobacillus Fructivorans) as spoilage organisms for this product.






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