Knowledge Based Bio-Economy


Development of a software tool for prediction of ready-to-eat food product shelf life, quality and safety (Food Quality and Safety)

Project acronym: SOPHY

Title of project: Development of a software tool for prediction of ready-to-eat food product shelf life, quality and safety

Research area: Food Quality and Safety

Contract No: 289053

EU contribution: €2 879 156

Start date: February 2012

Duration: 36 months

Status: on-going

The market for convenience and ready-to-eat food products is growing constantly – not only in Europe but globally. The trend to combine convenience and healthy nutrition has driven sales of pre-packed leafy salads in recent years.

Food producers must balance meeting consumer demand for innovative, healthy and low priced products with ensuring food safety and an appropriate shelf life for their products. This puts the food industry, of which are 99.1 % are SMEs, under enormous pressure. Many are looking to reduce costs without reducing quality and safety by optimising processes.

Using fresh-cut salads and deli salads as its model, the SOPHY project is developing a web-based software tool to predict the safety, quality and shelf life of ready-to-eat products. Food producers will be able to optimise their raw material selection, product formulation and processing steps virtually. The software estimates the effect of each production step on the safety (growth or survival of relevant pathogens) and shelf life (growth of specific spoilage organisms and/or formation of undesirable by-products) while considering quality (organoleptic characteristics and other quality parameters).

The predictive and probabilistic models are based on existing data sets on bacterial growth and quality changes, collected under various conditions generated during previous studies, as well as data generated during this project. Users will also be able to insert their own data, e.g. initial bacterial contamination. The web-based software can be continuously expanded – even after the project end – by inserting new data sets (e.g. other food products, different environmental conditions, etc.).

The objective of this project is not only to develop predictive and probabilistic models, but also to compile information about different processing techniques, product formulations (e.g. clean label), environmental conditions (e.g. modified atmosphere packaging), and about hygiene, quality and safety management. These information sheets aim to educate food producers and help them to understand the different factors affecting shelf life and pathogen growth. This increased awareness is crucial to improving overall food safety and quality.
The SOPHY software could be a useful tool to support food producers during risk analysis and assessment, promoting science based food safety management systems.

An Advisory Platform consisting of external experts from research and industry is providing the project team with continuous feedback.

Website of

Coordinator: Christine Jewan,

Organisation: ttz Bremerhaven, Research and technology transfer centre, Germany,