There have been many articles recently about expiration of food products and best by dates.
Our customers set their best by dates for food safety as well as food quality. Often the expiration has more to do with the freshness than the issue of contamination.
The only true way to find the food safety expiration is with a shelf study performed by a food science laboratory. This is a relatively expensive exercise for a small business and typically take a long time. There are some facilities that will perform an accelerated shelf study, but they are costly.
Most products that are shelf stable, meaning that they do not need refrigerated must be subjected to some kind of heat treatment to prevent the growth of pathogens, primarily botulism.
This heat treatment can offer shelf stability for a long time.