International food consultancy Campden BRI has launched a new e-book - Maximising Shelf Life, in which its experts share insights on how the combination of packaging and processes need to be optimised to reduce waste and increase shelf life, while maintaining consumer confidence without compromising product safety or quality.
Microbial profiling, super-chilling, heat pasteurisation and modified atmosphere packaging are just of a few of the preservation techniques that food and beverage processors can adopt, according to Campden BRI. Yet, with so many different factors to consider, uncovering the best and most sustainable option to extend the shelf life of individual fresh, frozen, ambient and bottled brands can be difficult.
Given the volume of interconnecting factors, Campden BRI says its Maximising Shelf Life e-book explains step-by-step the approach food and beverage processors need to consider for any shelf-life extension project. Including how its scientific processing and packaging experts can assist with uncovering, validating, reviewing, proving and implementing a shelf life strategy aligned to individual product applications that meet HACCP and country-specific food safety legislation.
For brands switching to more sustainable packaging, for instance composite materials or plant-based formulations to minimise environmental impact, these risks also need to be carefully weighed up. Recyclability is only a small element of the packaging waste and circular economy landscape. Rigorous independent tests can help to measure the performance in relation to shelf life, as well as ensuring compliance with food contact materials regulations in-place to safeguard consumer health.
Campden BRI reminds brand owners that when considering sustainability, there is much to consider. For instance, if the packaging material allows gases, moisture, light and microbial contaminants in, then it inevitably shortens shelf life, leads to higher food waste and the squandering of valuable resources. Consequently, this results in a far bigger carbon footprint.
Many tests determine whether packaging is fit for purpose. Campden BRI advocates testing packaging over every product’s shelf life. Campden BRI’s microbiological expert, Linda Everis said the rationale is threefold: to mitigate the transfer of constituents; to ensure pack and seal integrity is maintained and testing barrier properties from microorganisms. “Given the number of new materials entering the market, many with little historical data, testing the material in conjunction with the product to ensure they are both compatible over the product’s shelf-life is vital,” she said.
When working with or investigating a new material, shelf-life studies should be performed on both the packaging and product.
Campaigns to aggressively reduce food waste by extending shelf life can, if not properly validated, lead to deeper food safety issues. In order to reduce the environmental and social costs of food and beverage waste, Campden BRI advises processors embarking on any shelf life project to always deploy sound scientific principles.
Despite the large amount of historical shelf life test data, independent tests for each product application will always be the most robust methodology as it balances all the relevant formulation, manufacturing, distribution, packaging and storage factors.
Click here to download a free copy the Maximising Shelf Life e-book.