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Guidance Note 18 Validation of Product Shelf-life

Friday, 04 November 2022

General food safety requirements are that food must not be placed on the market if it is unsafe.

Shelf-life is the period of time over which a food maintains its safety and/or quality under reasonably foreseeable conditions of distribution, storage and use1-2. The shelf-life of a food begins from the time the food is produced and/or packed.

Validating product shelf-life is obtaining and documenting any evidence that proves that the shelf-life of a food is accurate and that the food will maintain its safety and/or quality until the end of that shelf-life.

While the overarching responsibility for food safety rests with food business operators, there is no generic method to estimate and set food shelf-life. This is because many different conditions can affect product safety and quality. As such, this document outlines good practice for food business operators to estimate, set and verify the safety of food over its shelf-life.