Shelf life study of spices 

1. Introduction

Spices are seed, fruit ,bark or leaves that are used for colouring and for flavouring purposes. Spices are available in the form of Raw, whole & pre-ground forms. Spices are used according to convenience purpose. Some spices are used for rituals & medicinal purpose .From the olden times people have been noticed to that spices help to boost immunity . And they  have health benefits In reducing  such as inflammatory, cancer and cardio vascular diseases etc. Due to good health benefits the spices are sold expensive. The population has increased drastically and of course it resulted in  increasing consumption , production & storage of spices.

Shelf life can be defined as the period of time where the product is safe and good for consumption  after the packaging  .The shelf life depends on the type of the product for example some products can be expired within a week and some may stay upto 2 -3 years.

2.Why shelf-life is importance?

Shelf life study of products varies on the type of the food product .During the shelf  life span, the food product  should remain safe .The manufacturing date and expiry date is mentioned on every packaged product .

Based on that the consumer will decide .If the food is spoiled before the expiry date ,it indicates that there is contaminated during processing such kind of products are been recalled by company. Based on the shelf life of product the consumers use food product .Shelf life is important factor because it indicate safe consumption of the food product. Its not that after the expiry date the product is totally spoiled or make you sick ,the quality, the flavour and texture of the product starts deteriorating .These does not give the required mouthfeel that we expect.

 3 . How to know spices went bad?

On traditional sense ,spices doesn’t expire when stored properly but the flavour and aroma are decreased . To know the whole spices are good we can sense it by smelling or crushing the spices . If the flavour does not give the proper aromatic feel then it is time to replace the spices with fresh ones .And if the spices are kept in humid area there may be chances of early spoilage because due to moisture there will be mould growth that causes odd flavours. When spices are not kept properly they are attacked by insects and other organisms that causes decrease in shelf life and by making them unfit for consumption.

4. Factors influencing shelf life of the spices.

There are  two factors that influence shelf life of spices during storage period. They are Intrinsic and Extrinsic factors-

      • Intrinsic factors : Factors that are inborn within the food and can not be controlled. The intrinsic factors are moisture content, water activity, sugar content, pH, salt content, nutrient content, and oxidation potential.
      • Extrinsic factors are the factors that can be controlled or changed .The extrinsic factors are Modified Atmospheric Packaging (MAP) and packaging materials, temperature, time, chemical preservatives, processing methods.

5.  Major issues/Defects in spices:

The defects in spices are Defects in these products may be grouped as :

      • Damaged due to insect infestation- The spices are contaminated by insects in the farm, while harvesting and during storage. The insect pests include, coleoptera, lepidopetra, hemipetra  The examples of insect infestation ranges from excreta, frass, evidence  of surface feeding and webbing.
      • contamination by animals-Bird droppings and other animals feces are found.
      • Mould development-The spices are attacked in the farm or while storage .Fungi easily attack the spices in linited moisture conditions.
      • Contamination by extraneous material- Contamination by stones, cigarette butts ,stones during processing  and storage conditions.

6. How to store spices for maximum shelf-life?

The shelf life of the spices depend on the form of the product .For example the powdered or ground spices can be stored upto 1 year ,whereas the whole spices can be stored up to 3years.

      • Basic way to increase the shelf life of spices by minimizing the contact or exposure to sunlight, heat, moisture, air. These can minimize the spoilage.
      • Spices should be packed in tightly sealed containers & non porous containers .The best option to store in ceramic& glass containers because they prevent air & moisture that will increase shelf life of spices.
      • Although the popular used item is plastic container ,but they are not perfectly air tight ,and plastic containers are difficult to clean because they absorb colors  & odor.
      • Other viable options are tin and stainless steel . It is important that these containers are to be stored away from heat because they are heat conductive .
      • Spices like chilli and pepper retain colour if longer kept under refrigerated conditions.

      • If there is any spice that is damaged should be removed quickly in order to prevent the spoilage of other spices.
      • While removing the spices from containers they should be removed with any dry utensils in order to prevent moisture that cause mould growth.
      • For traditional packaging of spices, jute bags are used or depending on the value of the spices, A twill, DW and B twill gunny bags are used .And for better protection of the product double jute bags ,multiwall paper sacks ,or paper bags are used , but these can absorb moisture from the environment .So in such situation, HDPE,PP Woven sacks or polyethylene lined jute bags are advised for use.
      • For ground spices the packaging materials used are PP woven, HDPE ,multiwall paper bags, lined textile sacks  ,glass or metal containers .

7. Legal requirements :

The major clause, in accordance with the new guidelines, states that no food item will be permitted unless it has a 60 percent shelf life remaining after customs clearance. The Food Safety and Standards (Import) Regulations, 2016, will take effect once they are published in the Official Gazette, according to the FSSAI.

Food items with less than 60 percent of their shelf life left at the time of clearing will not be cleared from the customs area

8. References :

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