Shelf-life extension advances help to reduce food waste

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Shelf-life extension would cut food waste
Shelf-life extension would cut food waste

Related tags Sustainable shelf-life extension Packaging Modified atmosphere Food

Extending the shelf-life of food would help reduce huge amounts of unnecessary food waste - both in supermarkets and once people get food home - according to experts in the field.

New processes are being developed to help manufacturers extend product shelf-life, together with better tests to more accurately determine product shelf-life.

The Chilled Food Association (CFA) is continuing to brief industry and retailers on its sustainable shelf-life extension project (SUSSLE), whose findings are available to CFA members exclusively until January 1 2018, and retailers that sign a non-disclosure agreement.

The £750,000 project investigated the effects of heat processing on spore-forming pathogens, specifically non-proteolytic Clostridium botulinum​. It achieved its aim of defining a milder heat process than currently recommended, ensuring a safe shelf-life for prepared chilled foods, while reducing energy use.

Meanwhile, in a bid to help the industry enhance shelf-life accuracy, Leatherhead Food Research (LFR) has produced new advice, ‘Shelf-life determination: best practice guidance’.

Microbiological screening

Methods for validating shelf-life have made big progress over the 10 years, said LFR. These include real-time testing where finished products undergo microbiological screening during storage, and accelerated testing which assesses non-microbiological changes under controlled conditions.

Combining these tests with practical methods to extend shelf-life, such as the use of modified atmosphere packaging, can play a significant role in food waste reduction, LFR has claimed.

LFR’s white paper, available to download online, summarises real-time, advanced and challenge testing techniques. It also covers wider factors such as ingredient quality and underlines the importance of keeping up-to-date with innovations in shelf-life extension.

“Shelf-life determination is a complex field, but our white paper acts as a stepping stone for food manufacturers who want to become more shelf-life savvy,”​ said Isabel Campelos, senior technical advisor (food safety) at LFR.

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