Shelf Life Testing

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

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

If you are selling your food product in a retail environment; then your retailer will more than likely require a shelf life test. At some point, you should strongly consider getting shelf life testing to give your product a valid expiration date.

RL Food Testing Laboratory Testing offers real time microbiological shelf life testing depending on what shelf life expectancy you are trying to achieve.


In addition to the testing, our microbiologist will analyze your lab reports, provide pass/fail reporting per pull and deliver a complete summary of the laboratory findings upon completion of testing.

The following microbes will be tested during your shelf life testing service:

  • pH
  • Water Activity
  • Yeast
  • Aerobic Plate Count
  • Mold

Lab testing is a complicated process that involves special equipment which needs to be calibrated and maintained constantly.  The service provided by a lab typically is limited to testing and generating the results data.  Interpretation of those results needs to be done by a qualified microbiologist.  RL Food Testing Laboratory can carry out your testing needs, provide you with detailed reports during testing (shelf life) and a summary at the conclusion of testing. Reporting services by our microbiologist include pass/fail reports and an analysis/evaluation of that data upon completion of testing. All of these services are included when you opt for bundle pricing for your Shelf Life Study.

Shelf Life and Microbiologist Evaluation Report Pricing:  

      Shelf Life Testing – $850.00

     Final evaluation report – $175.00

     Pass/Fail Check (shelf life x6) $50.00 per pull 


What is accelerated shelf life testing?   There is a type of testing that can accelerate the testing of a product but there are some important aspects of it that you need to know

  • Most retailers will not accept an accelerated shelf test as a result
  • It must be run simultaneously with the microbiological shelf life testing – which means you are paying for two tests
  • It subjects the product to a stress test that simulates heat, light and pressure to simulate a shelf presence.   The test becomes a calculated result versus an actual result
  • The turnaround time depends on the shelf life estimate but a good rule of thumb is 1 week for each month of expected shelf life
  • The cost can exceed $1,400 per sample
  • Please visit our FAQ page to learn more about shelf life testing
    Frequently Asked Question (

Shelf Life Testing


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Fill Out Lab Information Form

After we receive your payment, we’ll email you our Lab Product 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 Information Form. 

We’ll email your results and explanation.

You’ll 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 for.



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 the price for a one-year shelf life test the same as the price for a one-month test?

Yes. The cost is $850 regardless of expected length of the shelf life test.

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?

No. Our lab only conducts real-time shelf life testing. If your shelf life is expected to be a year, then your testing will take one year.

Why RL Food Testing?

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