Shelf Life Extension
What is Shelf Life Extension?
Shelf life extension is an effort to make food safe for long periods, still keeping its original quality. Baked products beyond their shelf life can become:
- Stale, firm and dry
- Less resilient
- Not as flavorful
- Unsafe due to microbial growth
Advances in bakery processing technologies and ingredients innovation have led to significant shelf-life extension. For example, breads and buns that traditionally lasted 6 or 10 days, now remain soft, springy and mold-free up to 3 weeks.
How does it work?
Two main factors influence the shelf life of bakery products:
- Microbial spoilage: Product contamination with air-borne mold spores starts immediately after leaving the oven. As time passes, microbial growth continues to increase. Eventually, green spots form on the crust.
- Staling and moisture loss from product: Bread staling can affect both bread crust and crumb. Crust staling is generally caused by moisture transfer or migration from the crumb to crust. The result is a soft, leathery texture. On the other hand, crumb staling happens when hydrated starch reverts to the crystalline form.
To extend the shelf life of products, different ingredients and processes can be used. Strategies depend on the end product, and if it is a clean label or not. Here are some solutions to slow both mold and staling.
Preventing mold spoilage:1,2,3,4
- Mold inhibitors: can be clean label mold inhibitors or artificial preservatives.
- pH and acidity: lowering the pH of the final product using acidulates or long dough fermentations, such as sourdough and preferments.
- Cleaning and sanitation: implementing good cleaning and sanitizing practices in critical product-contact surfaces. For example, pay attention to the mixer, divider, conveyors and cooler. Mold spores can not survive the baking process, so sanitation is key for controlling mold growth or product recontamination after baking.
- Implementation of HACCP principles: a HACCP plan is a systematic approach to food safety management that identifies and evaluates food safety hazards.
- Water content: controlling water activity and moisture content in baked products can be done with optimum baking and cooling conditions.
- Packaging: using adequate packaging method and materials. For example, modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) reduces mold growth and increases shelf life.
Slowing down staling rate and moisture loss4,5,6
- Emulsifiers as crumb softeners: although they do not produce softer fresh bread, they do slow the rate of firming over time. Some examples are lecithin, mono- and di-glycerides, amphiphilic proteins, alpha-cyclodextrin, DATEM, SSL and CSL.
- Hydrocolloids: can slow crumb moisture loss. When choosing hydrocolloids, keep in mind their capacity to make liquids dense. Also, their water holding capacity, hydration rate, and the effect of temperature on hydration.
- Enzymes: alpha-amylase, xylanase, and lipase have significant anti-staling effects. Hydrolysis of starch by alpha-amylases release dextrins and other oligosaccharides.
- Long fermentations: using dough systems that require long bulk fermentation before mixing. For example, sourdough or yeast preferments like sponges and poolish.
- Freezing: freezing temperatures pretty much stop all chemical reactions and molecular motion. So, this prevents starch from recrystallizing after baking.
A principle of U.S. food law is that food must be wholesome and fit for consumption. A product that is dangerous to consumers would be subject to potential action by the FDA. It could be removed from commerce, regardless of any date printed on a label.
In an effort to reduce food waste, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) have revised current guidelines for product dating on labels. FSIS is changing recommending using “Best if Used By” because research shows that this phrase is easily understood by consumers as an indicator of quality, rather than safety.7
- Albers-Nelson, R. “Clean Label Mold Inhibitors for Baking”. Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension FAPC-173, 2010.
- Tucker, G.S. Food Preservation and Biodeterioration, 2nd Edition, by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2016, pp. 1–35;193–204.
- Smith, J. Food Additives Data Book, 2nd Edition, Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2011, pp. 2–916.
- Igoe, R.S. Dictionary of Food Ingredients, 5th Edition, by Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, 2011, pp. 3–244.
- Cauvain, S.P. “Bread Spoilage and Staling.” Technology of Breadmaking, 3rd Edition, Springer International Publishing Switzerland, 2015, pp. 287–299.
- Rayas-Duarte, P., and Mulvaney, S. “Bread Staling.” Breadmaking: Improving Quality, 2nd Edition, Woodhead Publishing Limited, 2012, pp. 580–594.
- “USDA Revises Guidance on Date Labeling to Reduce Food Waste” United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service. 14 Dec. 2016. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/newsroom/news-releases-statements-transcripts/news-release-archives-by-year/archive/2016/nr-121416-01
What preservatives can I add in gluten-free dry baking mixes for extending the shelf life?
Hello there! We are addressing all questions in the forum, so others can participate and contribute. Please post your questions here: https://bakerpedia.com/forums/ Thank you!
May I know which packaging to use for increasing the shelf life of bakery products? If you know then could you please help me with any vendor’s details who produce the best packaging materials.
Hi Tanveer, great question! If you post your question in the BAKERpedia Baking Industry Professionals group, our team and community can share some suggestions. Also, check out our page on packaging: https://bakerpedia.com/processes/antimicrobial-packaging/
For increasing shell life of cookies what else to be needed with lecithin ?
Or lecithin will be enough to add?
Hi Shruti, we are addressing questions in our forum, so others can participate and contribute. Please post your questions here: https://bakerpedia.com/forums/ Thank you!
Do ascorbic acid increase shelf life of bread. What quantity do I add to 50kg flour for commercial baking
Hi Ayot, thank you for the question. We are addressing them in the forum, so others can participate and contribute. Please post your questions here: https://bakerpedia.com/forums/ Thank you!
Hi imran I have a small bread business and iam safering with shelf life problem as my bread stay only 3-4days
And the is not soft can u please help out this
Hi Imran, great question. If you post your question in the BAKERpedia Baking Industry Professionals group, our team and community can share some suggestions.
I started making bread… But my bread doesn’t live upto more than 3 days….
Why can you please suggest me the correct process of bread after mixting
Hi Saif, we are addressing questions in our forum, so others can participate and contribute. Please post your questions here: https://bakerpedia.com/forums/ Thank you!
I am developing a product – something between a waffle / pancake and it has different sweet fillings in. I tried vacuum sealing the product to extend the shelf life, but after 4-5 days it is dry. I am aiming for two weeks shelf life +. What preservatives can I use to help me achieve the longer shelf life?
Hi Zoya, we are addressing questions in our forum, so others can participate and contribute. Please post your questions here: https://bakerpedia.com/forums/ Thank you!
Hey… Im using bread improver,calssium powder, gulating powder . But bread life is still 4-5 dayz and fungus start getting. So plzz help me to prper recipe
Hi Dhawane, great question. Do you mind posting in our forum, so our team and others can participate and contribute? https://bakerpedia.com/forums/
Hi Joanna, I make dinner rolls and use improver and calcium propionate but my bread still hards in the second / third day and got mold in the sixth day. Can you please help out on how I can do it properly to last for at least 3 weeks
Hi Adesoji, great question. If you post it in our forum, our team and community can share advice there: https://bakerpedia.com/forums/ Thanks!
How can we increase the shelf life in cookies and cakes without damaging the quality.
Hi Melani, that’s a great question. If you post it in our forum, our team and community may be able to help you: https://bakerpedia.com/forums/ Thanks!
I make cakemixes and pancake mixes commercially. Now I want to explore export opportunities. how do I improve shelf life of my mixes from 3 months to 1 year?
Hi Juls, that’s a great question! If you post it on our Baking Industry Professionals group, our team and community may be able to help with an answer.
Thanks for sharing.
This is Leena from India.Actually am very new to this field and look forward to your support.I am starting a commercial level company for manufacturing of bread ,buns and cookies…My problem is with the shelf life extension for the same products.I want these baked products to be safe and healthy snack food for the growing children.Can you please help me out on how I can do it properly to last for at least 3 weeks.Please help me with the actual proportion needed for the dough and preservatives.Anticipating for your kind reply…
Hi Lenna, great question. If you post your question in the BAKERpedia Baking Industry Professionals group, our team and community can share some suggestions.
Thanks for sharing.