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The concept of food shelf-life has many facets, but above all it has very important implications for food safety, quality and waste control. Packaging plays an essential role: it supports information on shelf life, it extends the shelf life of the food before and after opening. The guides detail different aspects: ✽definition, ✽validation (HACCP), ✽predictive modeling.


📚documents: 3


📕Validation of Product Shelf-Life
| 📄56 pages | 🏛️Food Safety Authority Ireland, 🇮🇪 | 🔉English | 🔝

🔖Many different factors will affect the safety of food and lead to variation in shelf-life. As such, there is no simple answer to how long a shelf-life should be and how that shelf-life should be set and validated. However, there are good practice guides available for food business operators to follow which will help them to accurately estimate, set and validate the shelf-life of foods. In estimating and setting shelf-life, the primary objective should be food safety. Therefore, an accurate shelf-life is essential. If the shelf-life is too long or food business operators assume that food is going to be produced, distributed and stored under unrealistic conditions there is an increased risk of food safety issues arising, people becoming ill and damage to the food business operator’s brand and reputation. With this in mind, shelf-life should always be an integral part of a food business operator’s procedures based on HACCP and good hygiene practice and should always take into account, reasonably foreseeable conditions of distribution, storage and use of the food including consumer practices where applicable. It is strongly recommended that food business operators document all work related to estimating, setting and validating food shelf-life. This will allow the food business operator to link together documented work to support and provide objective evidence that the declared shelf-life is accurate. It will also allow customers and inspectors alike to verify the validity of the shelf-life declared. The documentation which relates to shelf-life should be filed together and kept by the food business operator as a part of its procedures based on HACCP. The shelf-life of food ideally should be estimated during product development and set before the food goes on sale to consumers. The estimate of shelf-life should be made at the point in the product development process where the food business operator is confident that it can consistently produce the same food from batch to batch under real processing conditions..
📗The safety and shelf-life of vacuum and modified atmosphere packed chilled foods with respect to nonproteolytic Clostridium botulinum
| 📄29 pages | 🏛️Food Standard Agency, 🇬🇧 | 🔉English | 🔝

🔖This guidance is applicable to all raw and ready-to-eat vacuum packed (VP) or modified atmosphere packed (MAP) chilled foods, and provides advice on how to produce these foods safely. The bacterium Clostridium botulinum is able to grow and produce a harmful toxin in the absence of oxygen. It is important that vacuum-packed chilled foods have the necessary controlling factors or hurdles in place to minimise the risk of growth and toxin production by this organism, throughout the shelf-life of the product. The guidance explains the 10 day shelf-life rule and the requirement for additional controlling factors, where the shelf-life is greater than 10 days.
This guidance is recommended for use by manufacturers and retailers of chilled vacuum and modified atmosphere packed (VP/MAP) foods and to assist in the practical development of HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) procedures for these foods. It is designed to meet the needs of all levels of expertise, from technical managers in large enterprises to small businesses and individuals. The guidance is also designed to help Food Law Enforcement Officers carry out their enforcement duties.
📙The safety and shelf-life of vacuum and modified atmosphere packed chilled foods with respect to nonproteolytic Clostridium botulinum
| 📄39 pages | 🏫UZAG-PBF, 🇭🇷 | 🔉English | 🔝

🔖Shelf-life is the period of time over which a food maintains its safety and/or quality under reasonably foreseeable conditions of distribution, storage and use.
The shelf-life of a product begins from the time the food is prepared or manufactured. Its length is dependent on many factors including:
  • the types of ingredients,
  • manufacturing process,
  • type of packaging and storage conditions
Shelf-life is indicated by labelling the product with a date mark.
Shelf-life testing describes how long a food will retain its quality during storage. Controlling the pathogen content (safety) of foods should be achieved by using a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system. Predictive modelling or challenge testing can be used to assess pathogen growth.
During the shelf-life of a food it should:
  • remain safe to eat
  • keep its appearance (odour, texture and flavour)
  • meet any nutritional claims provided on the label.


These documents were not produced by the consortium and are made available through the platform for education and training purposes. They are not exhaustive and they cannot be used as a sole source of information.

PROJECT FITNess - funded by the European Union's ERASMUS programme (contract 2017-1-FR01-KA202-037441)
Food packaging open courseware for higher education and staff of companies
Partners: Croatia (UZAG-PBF), France (ACTIA, LNE, AGROPARISTECH/INRA, AGROSUP DIJON), Germany (TUM), Portugal (UCP), Spain (CSIC)
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