The shelf life or DMD (Date of Minimum Durability) indicates the durability of a food product or, as defined in UNI 10534-2005 standard, the period of time that corresponds to a tolerable decrease in food quality.
More reference regulations are EC Regulation No 178/02 laying down the general principles and requirements of food law, establishing the European Food Safety Authority and laying down procedures in matters of food safety and European Regulation No 1169/2011 setting out all the information that must be given to the final consumer on the label of prepacked, packaged, non-prepacked or prewrapped products.
The responsibility for determining shelf life lies with FBOs (Food Business Operators): manufacturers but also large distribution companies and distribution companies are responsible for the proper management of the product's shelf life, in particular when it needs to maintain the cold chain. Some types of products need determining their PAO (Period After Opening), that is the useful lifetime of a food after its package has been opened for the first time.
To determine the proper DMD, it is necessary to carry out appropriate laboratory testing after product packaging operations that simulate the real conditions of storage for a certain period of time. The main aspects to consider are:
- Evaluation of product type and formulation
- Chemical parameters: fat rancidity, number of peroxides, etc.
- Physical parameters: pH, free water, etc.
- Microbiological parameters: CBT, enterobacteria, coliforms, moulds, yeasts, etc. (Regulation (EC) No 2073/2005)
- Sensory evaluations: smell, colour, taste, texture, etc.
- Evaluation of packaging interaction
More in detail, sensory evaluations can be:
- Objective: Studies with panels of experts giving their judgement on the sensory profile with qualitative and quantitative indications, as defined in ISO 13299 standard (Sensory analysis - Methodology - General guidance for establishing a sensory profile)
- Subjective: Studies with groups of final consumers giving their personal judgement on the liking of the product
Our highly-trained team evaluates the characteristics of the product to establish the proper testing parameters to provide the customer with high-value scientific data that are useful to determine product durability and to improve the entire manufacturing process.
White Lab Laboratories are the ideal partner for Food Business Operators to determine shelf life.
- Accelerated shelf life testing
- Thermal abuse testing
- Evaluation of the origin of defects from a chemical and organoleptic point of view
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