Shelf Life of Selected Perishable Food Products


Product Shelf Life (Days) Optimum Temperature (Celsius)
Apple 90-240 0
Bananas 7-28 13.5
Bell Peppers 21-35 7
Cabbage 14-20 1
Eggs 180 1.1
Onions 30-180 1
Lettuce 12-14 0.6
Fresh Meat (beef, lamb, pork, poultry) 14-65 -2
Oranges 21-90 7
Pears 120-180 -0.6
Potatoes 30-50 10
Seafood (shrimp, lobster, crab) 120-360 -17.8
Strawberries 5-10 0.6
Tomatoes 7-14 12

Source: adapted from APL.

Food products begin to deteriorate the moment they are harvested or slaughtered, so it is primordial for cold chain logistics to insure that the cargo is kept in optimum storage conditions so that shelf life, and therefore commercial potential, is maximized. The above table depicts the shelf life of dominant perishable food products if kept under optimum storage temperature. Although temperature is the most important factor mitigating the perishability of a food product, respiration and ethylene production are also significant for produces.

Once harvested fruits and vegetables are still living and therefore generating chemical reactions that consume oxygen and release carbon dioxide and water. This process is different for each product type and results in ripening, which alters many attributes having a commercial value such as color, flavor and texture. Ethylene is also being generated once a fruit and vegetable is harvested. Depending on the commodity this gas influences the ripening, so high concentrations tend to accelerate the process and lessen the shelf life.

As storing a commodity above optimal temperature reduce its shelf life, storing at temperatures below optimal may also cause damage such as discoloration and improper ripening. In light of a large variety of temperature conditions in which food products need to be stored, large grocery chains have built distribution centers will multiple cold storage sections.