Shelf life

Shelf Life Definition and Factors

  • Shelf life is the recommended maximum time for which products or fresh produce can be stored.
  • It refers to the defined quality of goods remaining acceptable under specified conditions.
  • Canned foods have different shelf lives based on their acidity levels.
  • Preservatives, antioxidants, induction sealing, and vacuum/oxygen-barrier pouches can extend shelf life.
  • Shelf life is specific to the product, package, and distribution system.

Pharmaceutical Shelf Life

  • Expiration dates guarantee the full potency and safety of drugs.
  • Most medications remain effective and safe past their expiration dates.
  • A study by the FDA showed that about 90% of drugs are still effective up to 15 years after expiration.
  • Drug manufacturers may specify shorter shelf lives to encourage repurchasing.
  • The Shelf Life Extension Program (SLEP) tested and extended the shelf life of drugs for the US military.

Temperature and Shelf Life

  • High temperatures accelerate chemical reactions and can lead to degradation of food and pharmaceuticals.
  • Rubber products degrade and explosives become more unstable at higher temperatures.
  • Cooling can extend the shelf life of certain products.
  • Temperature control, such as refrigeration, is essential for extending the shelf life of perishable goods.

Health Considerations and Shelf Life

  • Bacterial contaminants can make unused food dangerous to eat, leading to food poisoning.
  • Shelf life alone is not a reliable indicator of food safety.
  • Proper storage can extend the freshness of some foods beyond their sell-by date.
  • Improper storage of milk can lead to bacterial contamination or spoilage before the expiration date.
  • Health issues play a role in determining the shelf life of certain foods.

Other Applications of Shelf Life

  • Shelf life applies to products beyond food and drugs, such as gasoline and glues.
  • Time limits are applied to items like vouchers and gift certificates to ensure validity.
  • Temperature data loggers and time temperature indicators help estimate the remaining shelf life of products.
  • Shelf life estimation is crucial for managing stockpiles of medical countermeasures.
  • Further reading and external links provide additional information on shelf life.

Shelf life Mentions

Shelf life Data Sources

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