Consumers are concerned about how long a food product will remain fresh, and they wonder if they will be able to keep it for an extended period of time. The amount of time a product can stay on a shelf is very important to a store, especially when it comes to optimizing sales potential. Food items are safe and usable after production and packing for a set period of time, which is referred to as shelf life.
During this time, it should retain the properties that led to its formation (sensory, chemical, physical, functional, or microbiological) and, if applicable, be compliant with any nutrition label statement. All foods must have a certain amount of shelf life. Every food product has a shelf life in terms of microbiology, chemistry, functionality, and organoleptics. While the shelf life of a food product is intended to represent these various characteristics, the circumstances in which the product is to be stored should also be considered.
Commodity mismanagement during harvest, processing, and distribution reduces food shelf life. Fruits and vegetables can be damaged during harvesting and handling, allowing rot to occur. When snacks are crushed before distribution, the quality of the snacks decreases. Root and leafy crops dry out and wilt in low humidity conditions. When stored in high humidity, certain items, such as dry foods, may absorb moisture and become mushy. Temperature changes, for example, can cause re-crystallization of ice cream, resulting in a grainy texture. When food temperature fluctuates, unwanted changes, such as those caused by thawing and refreezing of meals, may occur. The fats in candies and other fat confectionery goods are harmed by melting and solidification.
Furthermore, when the conditions are favourable, microorganisms can reproduce quickly. Plants, for example, protect their fruits and vegetables from microbes before harvesting. Fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, are more susceptible to microbial development once harvested. Similarly, fresh meat that has recently been butchered cannot withstand the rapid spread of bacteria. Microbes, in addition to microorganisms, can cause food degradation, negative sensory characteristics, and even hazardousness. As a result, the pathogenicity of some microorganisms in food processing and handling poses a significant safety risk. As a result, food shelf life studies should frequently be conducted with the assistance of multidisciplinary expertise. It is critical to understand which variables limit shelf life before estimating it.
Chemical, physical, and biological changes may occur as a result of the aforementioned circumstances, resulting in sensory changes in foods. Research fails when the limiting factor is not correctly identified. Often, the characteristics that are easiest to measure are studied rather than those that protect a product from spoiling.
Accelerated shelf-life study
A faster shelf-life determination is in demand due to global food industry competition and national and international competitiveness. As a result, accelerated shelf-life testing is a method of speeding up shelf-life testing. A commodity with a long shelf life is more popular. Temperature has long been known to have an effect on various chemical reactions and food storage. The most common accelerated testing technique is elevated temperature storage. Foods will lose their preserving qualities faster in such controlled environments. Finally, based on the obtained data, calculations will assist in estimating the shelf-life under normal conditions. Accelerated shelf-life testing, on the other hand, is subject to limitations. They are primarily product-specific, and their outcomes must be carefully evaluated based on scientifically sound and comprehensive data.