Shelf Life of Food Products

The shelf life of food is always a concern, particularly to those starting a food business. It is a massively important part of any food production activity. What should I do? What rules do I need to follow? Can someone tell me how to go about it?

Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to get helpful advice. One reason for this is that it can be very difficult to give helpful advice. There is no one-size-fits-all or magical silver bullet. Each case is different and each case needs to be looked at separately. That can often mean both a technical challenge and a technical expense.

In all honesty there are many occasions when paying for expert input can be a genuinely good thing to do. However, getting some background knowledge beforehand is the most useful thing of all. It is the responsibility of the food  business operator to get it right, not necessarily their testing laboratory. The more the FBO understands their product, the better they can help both themselves and any third party to ask the right questions from the start.

Listed below are some genuinely useful sources of information and general advice. Some of them have further links that may also be helpful. Please note that the non-EU links are not necessarily compliant with EU regulatory perspectives, but the basic science behind it all is the same.

FDF Industry Guidance on setting product shelf-life

Food Standards Agency Business Guidance

General guidance, so there is a lot of information that can require a bit of sifting

Hambleton District Council guidance for determining the shelf life of food

Well done to Hambleton DC for putting together something simple but informative!

Food Safety Authority of Ireland Guidance on Shelf-Life Determination

Genuinely helpful.

New Zealand Government Guidance Document: How to Determine the Shelf-Life of Food

Genuinely helpful.