8 Reasons You Need Shelf-Life Testing

This is why shelf-life studies are on the rise and why it is an important part of every quality program.

1 Meet Regulatory Requirements

Regulations require that products be labeled with an expiration, best-by, or sell-by date.


2 Ensure Quality / Reduce Consumer Complaints

Shelf-Life testing helps your company guarantee quality throughout the lifecycle of the product. A proper expiration date helps ensure that customers are using the product during its peak of quality. It also deters customers from using your product past that peak. If they still do, they may not attribute those quality issues to your company.


3 Ensure Consumers Experience Your Product As Intended

You worked so hard to develop the perfect product, right? Make sure your consumers experience it exactly as approved from your test kitchen! There is a timeframe a product can be stored before its quality deteriorates past what your team finds acceptable to represent that product. Companies perform shelf-life testing to precisely determine that timeframe. By doing this, you can guarantee the quality of the product is still as intended when consumers enjoy it.


4 Keep Consumers Safe

Shelf-life testing shows you what can grow in your product over time. You can use that information to determine the point at which your product may no longer be safe for consumption. An accurate expiration date on your packaging is crucial to keeping consumers safe. This is because it deters them from consuming products past their prime.


5 Make Distribution-Chain Decisions

Knowing the shelf life of your product will tell you the exact timeframe you have for your product to pass through the distribution chain. Understanding this timeframe can help you decide the best distribution channels, transportation partners, and retailers for your product. It will also tell you how long the product will have on the shelves once it finally arrives at its retailer.


6 Make Production Volume Decisions

Understanding the shelf life of your product helps your team balance between economies of scale and preventing costly product loss. The latter being due to products held in inventory beyond their expiration or sellable date.


7 Prevent Recalls

Shelf Life testing helps determine an accurate expiration or best-by date for a product. But why is this important? What happens if the expiration date is inaccurate? If the product becomes spoiled before the printed date, your company may need to issue a recall. In addition to costing the company substantial financial losses, recalls also damage the company’s reputation and the reputation of its products.


8 Protect the Reputation of Your Brand and Product

Recalls, safety, and quality issues are all things that can hurt the reputation of your company, brand, and products. You can help protect your company’s reputation by ensuring consumers experience your product(s) as intended. You can also do this by preventing large recalls due to safety or quality issues from inaccurately marked expiration dates.


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5 Things Every Manager Needs to Know About Shelf-Life Testing

What is Shelf-Life?

Shelf-life is the length of time that a product can be stored while remaining usable and fit for consumption or sale.

What Can I Learn From Performing Shelf-Life Testing On My Product(s)?

Shelf-life testing can help you learn many valuable things about your product, including:

  1. In what way your product changes with time and storage conditions.
  2. How long your product can be stored before the quality deteriorates to the point at which it is unfit or unsafe for use.
  3. How quickly the quality of the product declines under various storage conditions.
  4. What changes occur (microbiological, chemical, physical, and sensory) in your product over time.
  5. The timeframe you have for distribution and storage of your product.

Why is Shelf-Life Testing Important?

Shelf-life testing is essential for:

  1. Ensuring customer satisfaction
  2. Determining accurate expiration dates
  3. Providing insights to product development and formulation personnel
  4. Brand name protection
  5. Production volume decisions

When Do I Need A Shelf-Life Study?

Shelf-life studies should be conducted under the following situations:

  1. During product formulation or before a new product launch (new)
  2. When you modify a formulation, process, or storage condition (change)
  3. When a consumer complains or when a product spoils before the stated shelf life (corrective action)
  4. Periodically to ensure that the product is performing as desired and expected (verification)

Where Should Shelf-Life Studies be Conducted?

It is best to conduct shelf-life studies at a laboratory. This is because they can provide guidance and a controlled environment. However, make sure that you choose a laboratory with the research capacity, experience, and expertise to properly design and conduct an accurate study. For example, AEMTEK is one of these such laboratories.

Experience and knowledge are important because knowing what types of analyses to perform is vital to achieving accurate results. Knowledgeable experts will decide what to test based on product specifications and storage conditions. These experts will also recommend how often to test samples during the study. We refer to these testing intervals as “test points”.

Lastly, the study also must take place under environmental conditions that mimic real life. Whoever is performing the testing must reliably — and exactly — maintain the determined environmental conditions for the duration of the study.

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