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Determining shelf life re-validation frequency


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#1 Sarah72

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Posted 28 September 2019 - 01:53 PM

Hello,

 

Does anyone have experience with determining shelf life validation frequencies? We have done the microbiological and organoleptic testing for all of our different types of products in 2016 (when we became SQF), and then I did it again last year (November 2018) to be safe.

 

Does anyone know if these need to be re-done yearly? I do not want to waste money on sending samples to the lab for microbiological testing unnecessarily, especially since it seems we got by in 2017 without re-doing them. I am just not sure if this was luck, or if auditors are okay with this being done only once.

 

Our products are dried spices/herbs and dried soup/sauce bases, so I am pretty sure all of our products would reach the end of their shelf life due to loss of colour/flavour long before anything would be unsafe to eat. (all previous validations indicate the products are safe microbiologically almost indefinitely and we end up determining the shelf life based on organoleptic testing in any case)

 

Any insight/suggestions on what auditors might expect from this would be greatly appreciated! Our window for our unannounced audit is quickly approaching and I would hate to get a non-conformity for something I had thought of, but then dismissed as unnecessary.

 

Thank you



#2 Charles.C

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Posted 28 September 2019 - 02:41 PM

Hello,

 

Does anyone have experience with determining shelf life validation frequencies? We have done the microbiological and organoleptic testing for all of our different types of products in 2016 (when we became SQF), and then I did it again last year (November 2018) to be safe.

 

Does anyone know if these need to be re-done yearly? I do not want to waste money on sending samples to the lab for microbiological testing unnecessarily, especially since it seems we got by in 2017 without re-doing them. I am just not sure if this was luck, or if auditors are okay with this being done only once.

 

Our products are dried spices/herbs and dried soup/sauce bases, so I am pretty sure all of our products would reach the end of their shelf life due to loss of colour/flavour long before anything would be unsafe to eat. (all previous validations indicate the products are safe microbiologically almost indefinitely and we end up determining the shelf life based on organoleptic testing in any case)

 

Any insight/suggestions on what auditors might expect from this would be greatly appreciated! Our window for our unannounced audit is quickly approaching and I would hate to get a non-conformity for something I had thought of, but then dismissed as unnecessary.

 

Thank you

 

Hi Sarah,

 

You omitted to mention an idea of current length of shelf life or storage condition.

 

The SQF Manufacturing Standard/Guidance seems to offer no help.

 

Here is requirement from BRC Standard which may be representative other than perhaps BRC's beloved  "risk basis" -

 

The site shall ensure that a system of validation and ongoing verification of the shelf life is in place. This shall be based on risk and shall include sensory analysis and, as applicable, microbiological testing and relevant chemical factors such as pH and aw.  Records and results from shelf-life tests shall verify the shelf-life period indicated on the product..

 

IMEX  it is, typically, minimally necessary to verify that product complies with specification at end of declared shelf life


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#3 Sarah72

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Posted 28 September 2019 - 02:57 PM

 

Hello,

 

Thank you for the input!

 

Our products shelf life are all between 18-24 months. We produce 20-30 different lots/batches of different spice mixes daily, so we really do not verify that every lot is still complying at the end of its shelf life. Auditors have always been ok with us simply having the validation, without verifying every single product at its shelf life end.

 

Both times I have done this validation, organoleptic testing was the limiting factor. Microbiological results were shown to remain pretty much the same for lonnngggggg after this window.

 

So based on risk, do you think an auditor would deem it acceptable that I do my re-validation based solely on organoleptic tests? Or is it worth spending the extra money to have everything tested for microbiological conformance as well, just to satisfy every possible expectation?

 

 

Thank you!



#4 Charles.C

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Posted 28 September 2019 - 04:07 PM

 

Hello,

 

Thank you for the input!

 

Our products shelf life are all between 18-24 months. We produce 20-30 different lots/batches of different spice mixes daily, so we really do not verify that every lot is still complying at the end of its shelf life. Auditors have always been ok with us simply having the validation, without verifying every single product at its shelf life end.

 

Both times I have done this validation, organoleptic testing was the limiting factor. Microbiological results were shown to remain pretty much the same for lonnngggggg after this window.

 

So based on risk, do you think an auditor would deem it acceptable that I do my re-validation based solely on organoleptic tests? Or is it worth spending the extra money to have everything tested for microbiological conformance as well, just to satisfy every possible expectation?

 

 

Thank you!

 

Hi Sarah,

 

My experience is with BRC / frozen seafood involving a range of varieties, eg shrimp, fish, squid, etc/NRTE/RTE/precooked, mainly shelf life 2 years. Auditors have expected to see a few, documented, ongoing verification procedures using a prioritised, rotating, sampling schedule. No requirement to maintain all at the same time due, as you said, logistically impractical.

 

I daresay someone using SQF will be able to give a more specific opinion. Maybe SQF don't care since it's not in the Code. :smile:


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C





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