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Ask the Expert Column: What are Shelf-Life Studies?

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My auditor says I need a shelf-life study for my product. What does this mean?

We live in a world of increased market competition, constant scrutiny on product performance, and continued expansion of certification body and customer requirements. This means any shelf-life claim on a product must be backed by sound analytical data. Your auditor has probably suggested you run a new study to verify your data now that time has passed or ingredients have changed. While a quick solution would be to market your product with the same shelf-life as your competitor, an accurate determination can only be obtained by storing the product in stability chambers kept at standard, and/or accelerated, conditions to observe its performance over time. 

Stability chambers ensure products are kept at specific temperatures and humidity levels throughout the duration of a study and can span a variety of conditions, from Frozen (-15C) to Accelerated (40 C) as can be customized if needed.

In products that contain significant levels of fat or vitamin content, targeted analyses are used to ensure quality and integrity of the label claim. Rancidity testing can determine the level of oxidation, while vitamin or active compound quantifications can be used to ensure that label claims are met throughout the shelf-life of the product. 

Microbiological analyses are also essential in analyzing the stability or shelf-life of a product. In many products, the growth of aerobic bacteria or yeast and mold are the primary cause of overall product degradation. Throughout the course of a shelf-life study, Eurofins employs industry-appropriate methods to provide analysis of spoilage and indicator organisms that may impact the safety and quality of your product. 

Organoleptic testing documents and evaluates physical aspects of a product’s acceptability. A trained team of sensory panelists evaluates a variety of characteristics such as color, taste, texture, aroma, dryness/saturation, packaging, separation, stratification and more. Our team then scores each product time-point using descriptors for these key sensory attributes to document the product throughout the study. Our team can also assist in developing and implementing a custom quantitative scale depending on the needs of the client. 

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