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Accelerated Shelf Life Testing


Accelerated Shelf Life Testing To Determine The Expectant Shelf Life for your Product

Turnaround depends on the shelf life you are trying to achieve.

Shelf life testing is important for all food and beverage products. But what is accelerated shelf life testing and how are they different from each other?

What is Accelerated Shelf Life Testing?

Accelerated shelf life testing is a process that is used to determine the shelf life of a product. This testing is done in order to determine if the product will still be safe to eat after it has been stored for a certain amount of time.

Why Use Accelerated Shelf Life Testing?

Accelerated shelf life testing can help to ensure that your products are shelf stable and meet the needs of your customers. This testing can help to identify potential problems with your products before they cause customer dissatisfaction or even product failure. By identifying these problems early, you can take steps to address them and ensure that your products continue to meet customer needs. Shelf life testing is also usually required by distributors such as grocery stores in order to sell your product.

How Does Accelerated Shelf Life Testing Work?

Accelerated shelf life testing is a process that involves subjecting a food product to various conditions that can affect its shelf life, such as high heat and humidity. This information is then used to create a shelf life prediction for the product. This type of testing can help manufacturers determine the best way to store their products and can also help them to identify potential problems early on.


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What is the Methodology & Procedures used:     The Rule of 10 “Q10”

Accelerated Shelf Life Test Lab

If you decide to run an Accelerated Shelf Life Test, we also recommend running a real time test alongside that test. Most retailers will want the real time test but will accept an accelerated test as directional performance.

A tool used in accelerated studies is “the rule of ten,” or Q10, which is the factor by which the rate of spoil-age increases when the temperature is raised by 10C. The rule of ten or Q10 is a guideline used in shelf-life testing to determine the expiration date for food items. This guideline states that if the food item has a shelf life of ten days, it should be stored at room temperature. If the shelf life is shorter than ten days, the food item should be stored in a refrigerated environment.

Another way to look at it, the rule of ten is a guideline that helps to estimate how long a product will be safe to use. This rule states that for every 10 degrees that the product is increased in temperature, the product’s shelf life is cut in half. For example, if a product is stored at 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it will be safe to use for approximately 20 months. If the same product is stored at 60 degrees Fahrenheit, it will only be safe to use for approximately 10 months; if you have a food that is normally good for 10 days at room temperature, it will only be good for 1 day if the temperature is 100 degrees.

What to Look for in an Accelerated Shelf Life Test Lab

Accelerated Shelf Life Testing

Accelerated shelf life testing can help your product line to maintain its quality and extend its shelf life. In order to be a reliable and effective tool, an accelerated shelf life test lab should have the following features:

  1. Temperature and humidity controlled environment.
  2. Good storage and handling facilities
  3. Comprehensive testing procedures.
  4. Accurate and reliable equipment.
  5. Standard and Accelerated Shelf Life Testing Services

Need Help With Your Shelf Life Study?

We can provide a staff-based food scientist who can answer your questions about your shelf life result.

Don’t Need An Accelerated Shelf Life Study?

We also provide a regular shelf life test at a lower cost.

How It Works

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Fill Out Lab Submission Form

After we receive your payment, we will email you our
Lab Submission Information Form.

Please fill out the form and include it with your samples.

 Ship Your Samples and Form

Ship six (6) 4oz freshly prepared samples, in the EXACT packaging you plan to sell the product in, to our lab.

FedEx or UPS / 1 or 2 day air
Samples shipped in glass containers must be double bubble wrapped and labeled “CONTAINS GLASS” on the outside of the package.

*if using glass packaging – submit one additional sample in case of breakage.

If refrigerated, pack with cold packs
Include your completed Lab Submission Form.

We Will email your results and explanation.

You will receive a lab report showing your results at the end of each testing point and an explanation provided by our staff microbiologist.

Turnaround depends on shelf life expectancy you are trying to achieve.  For accelerated shelf life testing, 1 week – 1 month of shelf life.



What You Get

Shelf Life Testing

Includes 5 test points. The following microbes will be tested during your shelf life testing service:

1. pH
2. Water Activity
3. Yeast
4. Mold
5. Aerobic Plate Count

Testing Points Reports

At the end of each (5) testing points, we will email you a report summarize the status of your shelf life testing.

Explanation of Results

Our staff microbiologist will provide an explanation of your shelf life testing results, making your lab report easy to understand.

Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to your questions on Shelf Life Testing

What is shelf life?

Shelf life is the amount of time for which a food or beverage is considered suitable for sale or consumption. The shelf life of a food product begins at the time it is manufactured or prepared and ends at the time it becomes unsuitable for sale or consumption.


What factors can influence a shelf life?

Your product’s ingredients (recipe), how it’s processed, type of packaging, and storage temperatures – either refrigerated or shelf stable (room temperature) – can all influence the shelf life of a food or beverage product.

Is food safety the only concern with shelf life?

No. Some products may be safe eat for a long time, such as beef jerky or dried foods; however, you need to consider the food’s aesthetics (also known as organoleptic properties) as well:

  • Appearance
  • Aroma
  • Taste

These properties are all affected with time, and any major change in these properties will certainly affect the quality of the eating experience and therefore will affect the shelf life of the product.

What are some examples of the shelf life of different products?

Here are a few shelf life duration guidelines that we have collected over the years, which may give you some idea of how long to your product will need to be tested for.

  • Beef Jerky: 9 months-1 year
  • BBQ Sauces: 4 months-6 months
  • Pasteurized Dairy Products: 3 weeks
  • Raw Juices: 5 days
  • Cakes, Cookies & Other Bakery Goods WITH Preservatives: 30 days
  • Salsa: 3 months-4 months


How long should I test my product for?

As a guideline to determine the length of shelf life testing your product may require, we recommend using the shelf life of a similar product as a reference to estimate your own product’s shelf life. For this estimate, use a similar product that is currently on the market and that has ingredients similar to the those in your product.

Other factors to consider when determining shelf life estimates are whether or not your product has preservatives or if it is heat-processed to preserve freshness. Lastly, the differences between making the product in a commercial kitchen versus a home-based kitchen can greatly impact the duration of your product’s shelf life.

Is laboratory testing necessary to determine my product’s shelf life?

Lab testing is the only method to determine an accurate shelf life for a food product.
Lab testing can be expensive and time consuming; however, there is no way around it. If a food manufacturer, big or small, needs to determine an accurate best-by date for their product, then testing in a lab must be done.

How can I extend my product’s shelf life?

We offer Recipe Modification consulting and can recommend ways to extend your product’s shelf life. For example, foods that are more acidic or that have lower water content tend to have a long shelf life; therefore, adjusting these measures can increase your product’s shelf life. Additionally, many of our clients add natural preservatives (such as ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) or citric acid) or artificial preservatives (such as stabilizers like carrageenan or xanthan gum). We can recommend the amount and type of preservatives that will best fit your product. Any expected increase in shelf life needs to be validated by submitting your product for shelf life testing.

Do you do accelerated shelf life testing?

Yes, we do accelerated shelf life testing.

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