Understanding the shelf life of your product plays a critical role in protecting your brand, but the way a food’s “best by” date is determined depends highly on the attributes of your individual product. When a food manufacturer contacts me about running a shelf life study, I typically ask a series of questions to help determine which methods are the most relevant – what is the pH and water activity? How is the product processed and packaged? Is it stored ambient, refrigerated or frozen? If you don’t have answers yet, don’t sweat it! We can walk you through what we need to know.

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Are you experiencing shelf-life issues or increased numbers of Listeria findings in a Ready-to-Eat foods environment? If so, you may want to take a deep dive into your equipment.

Largely, as a consequence of Listeria control efforts, most of us have at least a basic knowledge of hygienic equipment design. In truth, though, we often find inadequacies in the design of the equipment in our facilities, which are magnified with age and/or inadequate maintenance. Couple this with the widespread use of high-pressure water hoses and their ability to drive product residue, microorganisms and water deep inside equipment, and you have all the components needed to create a microbial growth niche. Continue Reading

According to the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) and the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF), shelf-life is “the amount of time that a food product is considered acceptable for consumption when stored at the appropriate storage conditions.” When determining if a food product is acceptable for consumption, several factors – including organoleptic properties (taste, texture, odor, appearance), microbial spoilage and chemical changes to the product during storage – must be considered.  Continue Reading