Shelf Life Determination
Determining the shelf life of a food product is an integral step in getting your product to market, and the team at Perennia’s Food and Beverage Centre has the equipment and expertise to make this happen. A thorough, complete study gives an accurate estimation of durable life or the best before date for your product. Results from the study provide data to support evidence that the food will remain wholesome, palatable and nutritious until the end of the durable life in an unopened package with recommended storage conditions.
A taste panel is often the chosen tool for collecting data for the shelf life study since it replicates the customer experience. Perennia Food and Beverage Centre performs sensory tests with in-house panelists following scientific methods to obtain objective data to determine a best before date. Specialized training of panelists can be conducted prior to the study if the situation requires it.
There are often constraints in the final stages of launching a new product, so utilizing accelerated shelf-life studies can be the best way to expedite the study in addition to using real-time for intervals between sensory tests. Models exist for some types of foods to translate the time of storage at an elevated temperature to an equivalent time at room temperature. Our technical team can help by designing the study with the appropriate intervals for taste tests and number of panelists.
Other laboratory indicators (microbiological, chemical or physical) can also be performed if your product is particularly sensitive to any one attribute. Our team can assess the characteristics of your products and help you determine the factors to test if laboratory analysis is required.
It’s important for companies to perform shelf-life studies once the final formulation, packaging and supplier approvals have been made. Sufficient quantity of the product must be submitted to ensure the same product can go through the full duration of the study. Shelf-life studies should not be considered a single point testing regime. Companies should perform confirmation tests on new lots from time to time to confirm the durable life. If there are changes to formulation, processes and/or packaging, a new shelf-life study must be performed.
Consumers have begun to expect Best Before dates on all food products – even those that are not required by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. A properly conducted shelf life study contributes to essential knowledge of the quality of your product and how it performs over storage.
Additional information on conducting shelf-life studies can be found on Perennia’s Video on Shelf Life, Perennia’s Fact Sheet on Shelf Life Studies and on the CFIA’s website