A shelf-life study is used to evaluate the time, under specified storage conditions, that a food will tolerate without producing unacceptable microbiological, chemical, physical and/or sensory changes. Even though there are a lot of shelf-life prediction models available in the food industry, as well as some estimation tests such as the preliminary incubation test or the Moseley Keeping Quality test, an experimental real-time study is the best way to collect actual analysis data and better estimate the shelf life of a product such as fluid milk.
Usually, a fluid milk product will have both a primary shelf life and a secondary shelf life. The primary shelf life is the longest storage time of the unopened product at which the product is still acceptable for consumers’ consumption. The secondary shelf life, also referred to as the open shelf life, is the longest acceptable time a product should stay opened before it is consumed. It is recommended that food companies evaluate both the primary shelf life and the secondary shelf life of a product to provide better instructions for the consumer.