Informe del Comité Científico de la Agencia Española de Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutrición (AESAN) sobre el establecimiento de la vida útil de determinados alimentos listos para el consumo loncheados o cortados y envasados antes de la venta en establecimientos de comercio al por menor

  1. Pablo Fernández Escámez
  2. Carlos Alonso Calleja
  3. Carlos Franco Abuín
  4. Gloria Sánchez Moragas
  5. Antonio Valero Díaz
Revista del Comité Científico de la AESAN

ISSN: 1885-6586

Year of publication: 2023

Issue: 37

Pages: 153-186

Type: Article

More publications in: Revista del Comité Científico de la AESAN


Royal Decree 126/2015, of 27 February, approving the general rule on food information on foodstuffs presented unpackaged for sale to the final consumer and to mass caterers, those packaged in places of sale at the request of the purchaser, and those packaged by retail trade operators (BOE, 2015), states that it is mandatory to mention, among other information, the date of minimum shelf life or expiry date, in the case of foods packaged by retail trade operators for immediate sale in the establishment or establishments owned by them. The indication of dates on packaged foods is also regulated by Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers (EU, 2011). The shelf life of such products may vary depending on the type of food and method of preservation. Accordingly, the Scientific Committee of the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (AESAN) has assessed the shelf life, in relation to the possible presence of Listeria monocytogenes, of certain products (cheeses, cooked meat products, including pâtés, and cured meat products) which are divided up or sliced and packaged (vacuum packed or not) before sale, in retail establishments, in order to ensure consumer safety. In addition, for vacuum-packed foods, the potential risk due to the possible presence of Clostridium botulinum, as well as other possible biological hazards, has been taken into account. For this purpose, factors associated with the presence and growth of biological hazards (water activity (aw), pH, ripening time) have been established for each of the product categories considered and published predictive microbiology models have been used to establish shelf life. Based on the available information, it is concluded that to control the risk of L. monocytogenes, the acceptable shelf-life for cooked meat products (such as cooked ham or cooked shoulder) stored at 4 °C with aw levels of 0.995 or higher and pH of 6.71 or higher (worst case conditions assessed) is maximum 5 days for both air-packed and reduced oxygen atmospheres. For pâtés that are divided up, air-packed and stored at 4°C, with aw values of 0.988 or more and pH values of 6.5 or more is maximum 6 days. And in the case of divided up or sliced cheeses, with a maturation period of at least 2 weeks and less than 2 months, stored at 4 ºC, the admissible shelf life is a maximum of 10 days, both for products conserved in the air and in reduced oxygen atmospheres. Products with aw and pH values that limit the growth of L. monocytogenes (such as cured ham, chorizo, salchichón or cheeses matured for more than 2 months) can be stored at room temperature. The estimated shelf life for these products would be related to parameters not directly associated with the growth of L. monocytogenes. The manufacturer may establish alternative shelf lifetimes to those reflected in the report if he is able to demonstrate to the competent health authority that the product has a combination of factors and/or packaging and storage conditions that ensure that the concentration of L. monocytogenes is less than 100 CFU/g at the time of consumption. The risk associated with the presence of Clostridium botulinum in vacuum-packed products and enteric viruses has also been assessed and concluded that it would not affect the stated recommendations. Finally, it is recommended that establishments ensure adequate hygienic and sanitary conditions during the slicing, cutting and packaging of food to prevent contamination by food-borne pathogenic organisms that may pose a risk to consumer health.