How long do shelf-stable foods last after retort processing?
Canning is a method of food preservation that renders a food and its container commercially sterile by the application of heat, alone or in combination with pH and/or water activity and/or other chemicals. The hermetically sealed container maintains the sterility of the food. "Commercial sterility” or, as it is sometimes known as, “shelf stability” means rendering the product free of viable microorganisms of public health significance as well as those capable of reproducing in the food under normal non-refrigerated conditions of storage and distribution.
Although commercially sterile products are known as ''canned foods”, the products may be in cans, glass jars, plastic containers, laminated pouches, paper-board containers etc. that are sealed to prevent the entry of microorganisms. Canned products are often referred to as “low-acid canned foods"(LACF)or acidified low-acid foods, depending on whether the pH is above 4.6(for LACF) or is 4.6 or below (for acidified foods). An acidified low-acid food is a canned product that has been formulated or treated (by addition of an acid or acid food) so that every component has a pH of 4.6 or below within 24 hours after the completion of the thermal process. An additional criterion not related to pH for both low-acid canned foods and acidified low-acid foods is the water activity of the product. Low-acid canned foods and acidified low-acid foods have a water activity level above 0.85. A third type of canned products is those that have a natural pH≤4.6; these are referred to as "acid foods''.
“So how long do shelf-stable foods last after retort processing? can we extend the shelf stability of the retort products up to 36 months?, the most frequently asked questions when we’re dealing with customers, the following is the shelf stable food storage chart, recommended by the USDA.
Shelf Stable Food Storage Chart