Validation and Verification

How to verify food shelf life

Find out how to verify your food shelf life along with dealing with customer extortion, testing air quality and what are the risks associated with spices.

Watch Video


HACCP Mentor Episode 38

Welcome to Episode number 38 of HACCP Mentor Review. In this episode we talk about customer extortion, how to verify food shelf life, undertaking air quality testing and some interesting stats on spices which will help in your raw material risk assessments.

Customer Extortion

I had a very interesting telephone call from a client this past week about a customer complaint that they had received. The customer claimed to have broken a tooth after consuming one of their products. The product contained olives in which the pip had not been removed.

The injury allegedly happened 6 weeks ago. Anyway, this guy calls up to say that he has been to the dentist to have the tooth fixed. Now keep in mind that this was 6 weeks ago and this is the first contact since the alleged incident.

He then proceeds to tell management that if he doesn’t get $800.00 for his dentist bill by 5pm that day, he is going to the media. There is no denial from my client that this type of incident could occur – we know it can – pits are found naturally in olives. Regardless of who is a fault, the customer does not have the legal right to extort payment from a food business.

If you want to find out what to do if your food business is ever in this position check out HACCP Mentor’s post on “How to handle attempts of food extortion”.

How to verify food shelf life

Establishing food shelf life and regularly verifying the shelf life of your food products is a basic food safety requirement. This means – you have to be able to back up (with evidence) the food shelf life or expiry date that you label on your products. When establishing the shelf life, consideration needs to be given to not only your process environment but also target food safety and quality parameters. The packaging that the product gets sold to the consumer in needs to also be considered. When setting up your shelf life verification program make sure that it includes:

  • Testing of retention samples at different points in the product shelf life eg. day 2, day 45, day 100 for all parameters.
  • Challenge testing of the product to support your storage instructions eg. to account for the cold chain process post dispatch.
  • Testing the product beyond the stated shelf life eg. test at 13 months if the product has a 12 month shelf life indicated on the label.

Just a quick note for any food business that is starting out. Establishing your food shelf life from what your competitor has labelled is not acceptable. The way that they make their food product may be very different to how you manufacture your food product. Their manufacturing site is going to be very different to yours as well.


Testing Air Quality

The action for this episode is to check that air quality testing has been completed in the previous 12 months. In this regards, I am referring to testing compressed air that comes into contact with any food or food contact surface. The quality of the air used in your food manufacturing business can have a direct impact on the quality and safety of your manufactured food products.

Risk Profile for Spice

The USFDA has recently released a risk profile on pathogens and filth in Spices. If you use spices in any of your food products this is a great resource to check out. The information provided will assist you in undertaking your own raw material hazard analysis which the majority of GFSI standards require you to undertake. I have put together an infographic on some of the key information which you can view below or find on my HACCP Mentor pinterest page.

FDA Spice Risk Profile


Share and comment

That wraps up another episode. Any questions or feedback is appreciated, so just leave your comments below this post. Feel free to also share with your work colleagues and other QA friends. I hope you found the topics useful this episode of HACCP Mentor Review. Until next time, I am Amanda Evans-Lara from


4 thoughts on “How to verify food shelf life”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get free HACCP advice and updates

Find out how to better implement and manage your HACCP, legal and food safety compliance requirements by joining the HACCP Mentor newsletter.

Scroll to Top