The Fungible Nature of Bread: How to determine shelf life and freshness of bakery products?

The shelf life of any bakery product is a very important issue in the food industry. It determines how fresh your products are and it is the crucial parameter that affects your business in terms of sales and competitiveness, because customers want to get the freshest products available.

Food shelf life testing in UAE of baked products has become even more important, since increasingly frequent recalls in recent years have made manufacturers and sellers appreciate the importance safety standard compliance takes for consumer health and concerns about if it is better to avoid particular products or risk consumer exposure to sell them. As with any type of product, in the case of bakery products it is essential that you establish a time frame during which consumers can buy your product safely without obtaining any health problems.

How consumers ensure freshness and quality of bread

Bread is a staple of the human diet. It is consumed in almost every country in the world and has been for thousands of years. In fact, bread is one of the oldest prepared foods known to man and it has been made using a wide range of ingredients including, wheat flour, rye flour, barley flour, cornmeal, millet and sorghum.

Bread is available in many different forms including: wholemeal bread, brown bread or white bread; sliced bread or unsliced bread; sweetened breads or unsweetened breads; sliced or unsliced cakes.

Bread does not have a long shelf life as it contains yeast which causes fermentation which results in the breakdown of carbohydrate into alcohols such as ethanol and carbon dioxide gas. This process causes discolouration (browning) and an increase in volume (puffing). The rate of these changes may vary depending upon how much oxygen has been allowed to reach the dough during baking.

The shelf life of most types of bread will be less than seven days when stored under normal conditions (i.e., room temperature), however some types can last longer if stored correctly. Consumers are known to determine if it’s still fresh by using a few simple tests:

Checking the colour of your bread to determine its freshness. If it’s brown or golden-brown on the outside but white on the inside, it’s still good to eat. If it’s brown all over, it may be stale and should be discarded.

Looking at the bottom of your loaf for mould growth. If there are no signs of mould, then your bread is fine. If there is any type of growth on the bottom or sides of your loaf, throw it away immediately because this means that fungus has entered the product and could make you sick if eaten.

Smelling the bread before eating it. If your loaf smells sour or musty, throw it away immediately because this means that bacteria have started to grow inside of it and you could get sick if you eat this type of loaf.

Shelf life tests for packaged bakery products

  • Microbiological testing

It is not uncommon for bread to become stale or even mouldy. This happens due to the presence of microorganisms in the bread. It is therefore important that you test the shelf life and freshness of your bakery products before selling them.

Microbiological testing includes microbial counts, pathogens, mould/mildew, and food allergens. Microbial counts are used to determine the number of live bacteria present in a product; these bacteria can cause illness if consumed in large quantities. Pathogens are bacteria that cause disease in humans; some pathogenic bacteria include Staphylococcus aureus and Salmonella enterica. Mould/mildew refers to fungi that grow on food items; this type of fungi can cause illness if eaten in large quantities. Finally, food allergens include nuts and seafood’s that some people may be allergic to; food allergies can cause anaphylaxis if consumed by someone who is allergic.

URS Lab undertakes Microbiological tests through Total viable count (TVC) and Yeast and Mould count (Y&M) method. The TVC is an estimate of the total number of microorganisms in a sample, whereas, Y&M is an estimate of the total number of yeast and mould in a sample. These tests indicate the presence of spoilage organisms in a product, which can adversely affect its quality and safety.

  • Chemical testing

Chemical testing includes pH, moisture content and total aerobic plate count (APC). pH is a measure of acidity or alkalinity; low pH indicates an acidic substance while high pH indicates an alkaline substance. Moisture content refers to the amount of water present in food; high moisture means that the food may spoil more quickly than low-moisture foods. Total aerobic plate count refers to the number of bacteria growing under aerobic conditions. These instruments measure the amount of moisture in a food product, which determines how long it will last on your shelves before going bad. They also measure other properties such as acidity levels, which help to determine if a product has gone bad or not.

  • Physical Testing

Shelf life testing in UAE for packaged bakery products can be divided into physical testing, which includes colour, odour and texture. Colour is one of the most important factors in determining shelf life for bakery products. The colour of bread should not change during storage because it indicates that the product has been stored properly. If the colour changes, this means that the product has been exposed to light or heat, which will cause degradation of nutrients.

Shelf Life Calculations

There are numerous formulas used by manufacturers to determine the optimum time a product should be sold at retail locations. The most common formula is called the Haugh Unit (HU) formula, which measures moisture content as well as other attributes such as pH level, yeast content and temperature. This allows companies to determine how long a product can sit on shelves before it starts spoiling and becoming unsafe for consumption.

Benefits of Early Detection of Stale Bakery Products

  • Early detection of stale bakery products helps manufacturers:-
  • Avoid food contamination and helps to increase the shelf life of the product by reducing spoilage.
  • Prevent loss due to poor quality products.
  • Reduce cost associated with product recalls, product replacement, and legal fees.
  • Increase customer satisfaction as stale products are removed from the market before customers have a chance to complain about them or return them for refunds or replacements.
  • Avoid additional investments in quality control systems that may be unnecessary if the problem is identified and corrected when it occurs.
  • Optimise the use of resources like raw materials, packaging material, energy and water used during production of bakery products.

How to ensure food safety throughout the supply chain of bakery products?

Bread shelf life testing is an important part of the process of ensuring food safety throughout the supply chain of bakery products. Bread is one of the most popular foods in the world, with over 2 billion loaves being consumed every day with the segment generating US$0.38 tn in revenue this year according to Statista Consumer Market Report on bread and cereal products.

Bread shelf life testing is performed to ensure that the product meets local regulations and that it will be safe for consumption after a certain period of time. The shelf life of bread is dependent on many factors such as storage conditions, packaging materials used and processing methods used by manufacturers.

Test your Bread and Bakery Products

Without knowing the shelf life of products and freshness of bakery products, you are not able to detect and determine the quality of bakery products. We at URS provide expert laboratory testing services in Dubai that provide bakery shelf life and freshness data in a cost effective way using scientifically proven techniques. Through rapid microbial testing, we guarantee that you get best results in the market with maximum food safety provided by our services. With our experts working round the clock, you can be rest assured that your bakery product is always ready for consumption. Please contact us for a more in-depth approach on how to test the shelf life of breads and baked goods.