One of the biggest concerns of manufacturing companies is how to increase the shelf life of food products while ensuring consumer safety. Expired products can damage the reputation of manufacturers and yield adverse results which can be pretty expensive to deal with. Keeping such things in mind, we have collated a list of methods that are followed by companies to increase the shelf life of products.
- Refrigeration or cold storage is a popular means of food preservation which is commonly used for perishable food items like fruits, veggies, meat, etc. Usually, the food items are stored at a temperature either at or below -18 degrees.
- Dehydration removes moisture from food products and helps preserve them for longer. Despite being one of the most primitive methods of food preservation, new techniques have been added such as hot air drying, drum dehydration, osmotic dehydration, foam mat drying, etc.
- Under the aseptic canning procedure of food packaging, the final products are packed into sterilized cans in a sterilized environment. Here the food is sealed in containers before being sterilized using heat. However, the amount of heat applied depends on the nature of the product and the size of the container. This technique is usually used for food products such as fish, citrus fruits, tomatoes, etc. that are slightly acidic in nature.
- Products like baking soda, milk powder, grains, etc. require air-tight packaging to prevent the materials from absorbing moisture which is infamous for triggering the growth of micro-organisms. Glass and plastic air-tight containers are available at cost-effective rates which can help keep the food fresh longer and add to its shelf life.
- Non-thermal food processing is an advanced food preservation technique involving the discharge of high-voltage short electric pulses into food items for increasing their shelf life. Some popular non-thermal food processing techniques are high-pressure processing, pulsed electric field processing, and ohmic heating,
- In the radiation food preservation technique, the food products are exposed to controlled radio waves like x-rays, gamma rays, etc. for adding to the shelf life of food items. This technique can be especially helpful in slowing down the ripening of vegetables and fruits as well as disinfecting pulses and grains.
- Natural antimicrobials like herb, plant, or spice extracts can help extend shelf life by preventing spoilage. Customers also have a preference for safer ingredients making it imperative for companies to swap chemicals with natural alternatives.
- A lot of advancement can be seen in the market for food trays and pads to store fresh-cut produce. Pads can slow down a product’s respiration rate by absorbing excess juice. This is why more and more companies are opting for food trays with pads to store the products.
- Since the time of harvesting fruit or vegetables, companies are trying to ensure proper treatments and handling methods that don’t tamper with the quality of the produce. Some examples of poor treatment methods are using contaminated water for cleaning food items or storing them in contaminated areas.
- One of the best steps towards increasing the shelf life of fruit and vegetables is to improve their packaging. You can control microbial growth, ripening, and respiration rate by following proper packaging methods. This, in turn, helps to extend seasonality and freshness while reducing food loss. Under the modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) technique, the gases surrounding the food products are controlled by using carton containers, pallet covers, and sheets to control ethylene or by limiting the oxygen surrounding the fruit to enhance its shelf life.
The above-mentioned food preservation techniques are commonly used in the food industry by following their shelf life guide. However, properly implementing them is easier said than done and requires the expert guidance of food consultants to attain optimal results in the form of longer shelf life.
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