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Chocolate Shelf Life Testing


Truffle Guy
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I'd like to test the shelf life of my chocolates and wondered if anyone knew a place to get them tested for a reasonable price. I can send either the chocolates or the recipe. Thanks in advance for the help!

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I'm honestly not being sarcastic here.......but I test my items by sticking them on the shelf and watching them. I taste one every day to analyze changes in taste and texture and general deterioration. I test them in the environment they will spend the most time in, whether it's a dry temperature controlled case, or a fairly humid refrigerator case. The results I get help me determine the pull date for any item I make. It works and....best of all it's cheap! :raz:

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Thanks, and I do the same thing for my store but I'm working with a large client and will need to provide some documentation and testing results.

I'm honestly not being sarcastic here.......but I test my items by sticking them on the shelf and watching them. I taste one every day to analyze changes in taste and texture and general deterioration. I test them in the environment they will spend the most time in, whether it's a dry temperature controlled case, or a fairly humid refrigerator case. The results I get help me determine the pull date for any item I make. It works and....best of all it's cheap! :raz:

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it's probably going to be difficult to get someone to give you an exact shelf life number - no one's going to want to take the liability. What it should be relatively easy to do is find someone to do water activity (Aw) testing, and then provide general Aw charts and tables that provide general recommendations. Your chocolate supplier should have the eqiupment to do this for you.

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Here's a link to a directory of companies listed under "shelf life testing" from the Institute of Food Technologists website: clickety click.

If you end up having it done, will you share the ups and downs of it (costs, value, etc.)?

Patty

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I looked in the phone book under Laboratories and started callling. I was quoted $130-$250 to check for bacteria. You could also speak with the food inspection people and they will know where to send you. Taste is one thing, but invisible critters are another. You would not want to embarass yourself and lose your opportunity by being to cheap to have the product lab tested. I plan on doing the testing for my bonbons.

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It seems to me that there are so many variables at play here. I know this is done all the time, but how can you determine a shelf life when you can't control shipping, storage and display temps, light, etc. Do these people give you a shelf life which is the absolute minimum?

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Check with your state government -- start with the agriculture department. My province has test kitchens and labs that do all the testing and a lot of the tests are provided free of charge, or with very minimal charges.

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I found a company that will do shelf life testing and also microbiology sampling. It is about $200 per recipe but I think it will be worth it to get a better idea of how accurate the AW values in the books really are. They offer documentation and certification of testing. I'm looking for shelf life when stored at correct temperatures/humidity. My client will have to take responsibility for poor handling. I will be doing all the shipping so I do have some control and most of the shipping will occur in Q4 so temperature will be less of a factor.

I've given the typical 3-4 weeks answer on shelf life although it varies widely from piece to piece with some having much longer shelf lives. I will be getting a vacuum mixer later this summer and that should add a few weeks to shelf life as well. I'll let everyone know how my experience turns out.

It seems to me that there are so many variables at play here.  I know this is done all the time, but how can you determine a shelf life when you can't control shipping, storage and display temps, light, etc.  Do these people give you a shelf life which is the absolute minimum?

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