The shelf life of a product is an indication of its quality and freshness. It’s the length of time a product maintains the desired quality levels with consumers. Fresh food is important to customers. 


Consumers want their food to be fresh. The importance of a supermarket’s fresh food to British consumers was revealed in a poll, in which 54% said it was a most essential element in deciding where they would shop.


What is the best method for testing the shelf life of dairy items?


Why is it Important to Test the Shelf Life of Dairy Products?  

Keeping long-life dairy goods fresh necessitates certain characteristics after time, such as low acidity, especially when combined with other odours and tastes. Sensory elements are sensory components that influence how customers perceive the freshness of dairy products. However, these factors also undergo natural changes throughout a product’s lifecycle.


Lipolysis and proteolysis are responsible for these changes. Lactic acid bacteria can be found in dairy products and contribute to their fermentation processes naturally.


It’s crucial to examine the taste and appearance of foods because they can influence consumer selections and brand reputation. Producers and producers cannot ensure the quality or safety of their goods sufficiently to reassure merchants and customers if shelf-life testing is not done.


What Influences the Shelf Life of Food? What Are the Factors that Influence It?

Natural modifications occur in dairy products that can influence their shelf life, as we’ve seen. The quality of most food items, on the other hand, deteriorates with time.

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Bacteria are the most common cause of food spoilage. The development of bacteria is the most common cause of spoilage. Psychotropic bacteria are responsible for most spoiling problems. These microbes can grow rapidly even in refrigerated conditions.


Freshness is lost when a product’s quality deteriorates while it remains in storage. Off-flavours begin to smell or taste, but the threshold of this varies from person to person. However, as the quality of products degrades during storage, so does their attractiveness to customers.


Customers who are happy with the freshness of a restaurant’s food will spend 74% more than unhappy customers. The process of change has an impact on dairy products gradually, and it may be imperceptible. Therefore, understanding and predicting the shelf life of UHT milk and other long-life dairy items is so important in the food industry.


How to Test Monitor the Shelf Life of Food 

Food shelf-life testing can be done in a variety of ways, including:

Real-time science – storage of products in conditions comparable to real-world situations to estimate feasible shelf lives


In real-world storage, pathogens or microorganisms are added to the food during production to study the potential effects of such contamination under actual storage conditions.

Predictive microbiology – the use of statistical and mathematical methods to forecast the activity of foods in storage conditions


Modifying the conditions such as temperature to enhance their influence on food behaviour.

The purpose of this technique is to assess attractiveness based on changing dates of manufacture for a product’s physical qualities to predict its appeal.

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Predicting Shelf Life of Dairy Products 

Testing for adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is one specialist approach for determining the shelf life of dairy items. This may be used to test non-dairy products such as almond milk, among other things.


ATP is a biomarker for microbiological quality. It can help you determine the quality of your product.


The Charm Epic ATP System automates ATP testing, and its associated software provides real-time analysis and trends. It can detect shelf life in as little as 24 to 26 hours.


Why Dairy Testing Supports Shelf Life

The quality and composition of raw milk products affect their shelf life as well as their overall performance.


As a result, various dairy testing kits assist farmers in ensuring that their milk yields are as high as possible.


Microbiological Considerations

The two most important factors to consider while optimizing the conditions for producing ESL milk are microbiological and sensory. During refrigerated storage, ESL milk should not develop any bacterial growth. However, this is rarely the case due to a variety of circumstances.


Bacteria are the cause of spoilage in many dairy products. The bad effects on flavour and nutritional value caused by these bacteria may be reduced through pasteurization. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether the use of aseptic packaging, as well as low-temperature and high-pressure processing, is effective in preventing bacterial growth during cold chain transportation. We also conducted various microdilution studies on different segments to evaluate their sensitivity to heat treatment under mild conditions (cold pasteurization). Bacterial issues can be divided into those related to the bactericidal nature of the heating conditions and those associated with post-processing contamination. The relative importance of these for shelf life depends on whether ESL milk is packaged aseptically or under rather

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The nature of the heating conditions and storage temperature are the only aspects that affect aseptically packaged milk’s microbiology, whereas post-processing contamination, as well as processing and storage methods, are important for ESL milks not packaged aseptically. Since ESL milk is frequently not processed under aseptic conditions, spore-forming bacteria that do not get destroyed by the heating procedure include non-spore-forming bacteria that enter the milk after processing.


Another factor to consider with ESL milk is the quality of the raw milk. Because heat kills bacteria in a logarithmic manner, the higher the bacterial count in raw milk, the greater will be the residual count after heating. Additionally, if psychotropic germs such as Pseudomonas infect and grow in the raw milk, they may produce heat-resistant proteases that cause unpleasant tastes during storage. The total number of organisms should not exceed 105CFU/mL in general.


How Effective is Your Dairy Testing?

For commercial success and consumer appeal, reliable and fast testing of dairy products and herds is critical. If you’re looking for equipment to help test your milk’s shelf life, we recommend contact Calibre Control. Calibre Control supply a wide range of testing equipment for the food and drink industry, with a knowledgeable customer support team.