Most products that OFI produces are shelf-stable, meaning that they do not need to be refrigerated, and must be subjected to heat treatment to prevent the growth of pathogens, primarily botulism. This heat treatment can offer shelf stability for a long time.
Our customers at OFI set their best by dates for food quality as well as food safety. 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 takes a long time. There are some facilities that will perform an accelerated shelf study, but they are costly.
A key term is commercially sterile. It doesn’t mean that it is sterile. But that under normal conditions ( 55 to 80 F) microorganisms will not grow.
Most products with a validated SP are considered commercially sterile. With a commercially sterile product, there is no expiration date.
However, there are other factors:
Maybe you feel that it doesn’t taste as good after 6 months or a year
Maybe the color fades after time
Unlimited liability – as a brand owner is not good to have unlimited liability. for example, even though it doesn’t expire, you may want to say 2 years or 3 years that the old items come off the shelf life.
Continue reading about Food Shelf Stability And Expiration Here: Intro To Product Stability