In the food and beverage industry, product shelf life and stability are crucial factors in determining the quality and safety of products. If you already don’t know, shelf life refers to the period during which a product can maintain its quality and safety attributes, while stability refers to the product’s ability to resist change in its physical, chemical, and microbiological properties over time.
Consumers expect food products to have a reasonable shelf life, and businesses aim to meet these expectations while attempting to minimise waste and optimise profitability.
Sunflower lecithin, the natural emulsifier and stabiliser, is known to enhance the shelf life and stability of food products by preventing the separation of ingredients, maintaining freshness and inhibiting spoilage of the product. It’s these properties of sunflower lecithin that have made it a popular ingredient in the food and beverage industry generally and in the production of plant-based and clean-label products particularly.
As you already know, the shelf life and stability of packaged food are impacted by several factors. Understanding these factors is essential for product developers and production managers to formulate effective strategies that can benefit the business.
Below is a look at some of the major factors that impact the product shelf life and stability:
Oxidation is one of the primary factors that cause food of all sorts to spoil. It occurs when oxygen reacts with the lipids and other components in the food, leading to the development of off-flavours and rancidity. The oxidation process accelerates with exposure to light, heat, and metal ions.
Another significant factor that affects product shelf life and stability is Microbial growth. It’s the growth of bacteria, yeasts, and moulds in food that leads to spoilage and foodborne illnesses. Factors that promote microbial growth include moisture, temperature, pH, and oxygen availability.
Chemical reactions also have an impact on the shelf life and stability of food products. These reactions often lead to changes in colour, texture, and flavour, causing the nutrients to break down. Some common chemical reactions in food products include enzymatic browning, Maillard reaction, and lipid oxidation.
The stability and shelf life of food products is also affected by physical changes such as moisture migration, texture changes, and crystallization. These changes can alter the product's appearance, texture, and taste, leading to decreased consumer appeal and increased waste.
By addressing these factors, food manufacturers can create products that meet consumer expectations for quality and safety while minimizing waste and optimizing profitability.