129 Evaluate the use of dynamic shelf life

Evaluate the use of dynamic shelf life

“Expiry date overdue” is the main reason for food waste in the value chain. A more flexible shelf life labelling throughout the year could help reduce food waste.

Shelf life is affected by several conditions that may vary. It is possible to specify increased shelf life in periods of time or for batches. This is termed as “dynamic shelf life». In practice, it means that overall shelf life can be expanded when conditions give the opportunity to do so.

The supplier should inform the customer if dynamic shelf life is applied.

According to the Mattilsynet (Norwegian Food Safety Authority), the use of dynamic shelf life within the current regulations: “It is the manufacturer who assesses and puts the shelf life of the food products. Manufacturers know the raw materials and processes used. Shelf life should be based on common and realistic conditions for transportation, storage and sales. This does not prevent manufacturers from taking into account that there may also be different external conditions for the shelf life of the foodstuffs. In practice, manufacturers often put the shelf life out of the most demanding but realistic conditions throughout the year. If the business has full control and overview of the terms, nothing stops them from choosing different shelf life throughout the year for the same product. This means the food is given a shelf life that is adapted to season, temperature and other conditions.”

More information can be found here: http://www.mattilsynet.no/mat_og_vann/merking_av_mat/generelle_krav_til_merking_av_mat/holdbarhetsmerking_paa_matvarer.2711

Examples of using dynamic shelf life that could have longer shelf life than often is the practice today:

  • Different temperatures throughout the year

In order to make a realistic assessment, the producer assumes that the products are stored in normal outdoor / room temperature for a shorter period of time through the value chain, such as transshipment, stock refills in stores, consumer carts, transport from store to home and in the home (in and out of the fridge and on the kitchen table). In summer, the outdoor / room temperature is higher and thus has a greater impact on shelf life. To make a realistic assessment, it’s normal to take into account the assumptions in the summer period and determine the shelf life based on this, and the same shelf life is normally used throughout the year.

  • Different shelf life based on different technology

Different companies may have different production methods and / or hygiene standards. To make a realistic assessment, the starting point is the technology that provides the shortest shelf life.

  • Different shelf life of raw materials

The regulations or internal rules stipulate that raw materials that are up to x days “old” may be used at any given time in the manufacturing process. Then the shelf life is determined by using x-day-old raw material each time. This even though you often use fresher raw materials than x days.

  • Different raw material quality

Raw material quality may vary naturally over a year, and in some cases this may affect shelf life. To make a realistic assessment, the raw material with the shortest shelf life is used, and normally uses the same shelf life of the finished foods throughout the year.

Dynamic shelf life and the EPD database

There is no need for any changes to the EPD database to utilize dynamic shelf life.

It is the product’s shortest shelf life during the year the supplier must register in the EPD database.

Published on: 31. July 2018