Guidance for Extension of Shelf Life of Food and Beverage Commodities
Due to various reasons, shelf life extensions on AAFES owned food and food commodities may be necessary to protect the financial interest of the government. Requests for serviceability evaluation of AAFES product for the purpose of extending product shelf life should be a rare occurrence.
- OCONUS: Due to some products inherently having a short shelf life after production, extended lead time for ordering and shipping, troop rotations, and other challenges of managing food in OCONUS locations, requests for a serviceability evaluation by local public health authorities for consideration of extending the shelf life of food and food commodities may occur more frequently in OCONUS Distribution Centers. Installation level request for extension should be a rare event.
- CONUS: In CONUS, a request for serviceability evaluation of AAFES product by local public health authorities for the purpose of extending the shelf life of food and food commodities will only be submitted after coordination with the appropriate Division Vice President and the Director, Food & Drug Safety/Staff Veterinarian, HQ AAFES. A justification for requesting a serviceability evaluation and shelf life extension must be presented in writing.
- Food & Food Commodities: The US Food and Drug Administration defines food and food commodities as "(1) articles used for food or drink for man or other animals, (2) chewing gum, and (3) articles used for components of any such article." For the purpose of this policy, AAFES defines food and food commodities in the same manner and this definition includes dietary supplements and dietary ingredients; infant formula; pet foods; beverages (including alcoholic beverages & bottled water); fruits and vegetables; meat and poultry; fish and seafood; dairy products and shell eggs; raw agricultural commodities for use as food or food components of food; canned foods; live food animals; bakery goods, snack foods, and candy; and any other product intended for consumption.
- Serviceability Evaluations: Inspections performed by local public health authorities to determine the wholesomeness, condition, and/or fitness for intended use of food and food commodities.
- Shelf Life Extensions:Inspection and approval of extension of the expiration date for products reaching "best by", "sell by", "freshest by", expiration, or other similar date. Such inspections and the resulting extension may only be conducted by the responsible public health authority.
- Public Health Authority:Members of the Army Veterinary Service, Army Preventive Medicine, or US Air Force Public Health responsible for providing food safety and defense support to DOD installations or facilities.
Types of Products Requiring Extensions
- Retail Food Items: Food products intended for sale to consumers through AAFES retail outlets such as Main Exchanges, EXCHANGE Express Stores, etc.
- The Exchange Food Service Operations: Food products destined for operations such as fast food restaurants, school feeding programs, and AAFES operated food production facilities i.e., bakeries etc.
- Non-food Items: Retail or supply items such as health and beauty aids, tobacco products, paper products, and other non-food products not intended for consumption. Public health and veterinary personnel do not inspect or extend non-food products.
Products Prohibited from Shelf Life Extension
Under NO circumstance will over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, baby food, infant formula, or dietary supplements be extended. Local Public Health Authorities may also elect to not perform serviceability evaluation for the purposes of shelf life extension for other food and food commodities (i.e. fluid milk products).
General Guidelines for Shelf Life Extensions
- Retail Food Items: The length of an individual extension of retail foods and beverages will always be coordinated between the AAFES manager and the Public Health Authority or their designated representatives. A single extension or combined total of multiple extensions will not exceed a total of 60 days without the AAFES manager receiving prior approval from the Vice President, Specialty Stores-Consumables Division, HQ, AAFES and Director, Food & Drug Safety/Staff Veterinarian, HQ AAFES.
- Contingency Operations Retail Food Items: Due to the unique challenges of transporting food and food commodities into military contingency operational areas in a timely manner, the 60 day retail food extension limit does not apply to retail foods and beverages in these areas. In these locations, product may be extended as long as it is determined to be wholesome and fit for its intended use by Public Health Authorities.
- AAFES Food Service Operations: Product destined for AAFES food service operations and AAFES production facilities that is wholesome and in good or excellent condition may be extended. The length of an approved individual extension and any subsequent extensions on the same product will be coordinated between the AAFES manager and the Public Health Authority or their designated representative(s) and should be based on product wholesomeness, quality (fitness for its intended use), and safety.
- Reference Document: DLA Manual 4145.12 (Joint Service Manual for Storages and Materials Handling) may be used as a reference to assist in determining length of extension for AAFES products being inspected at the end of labeled shelf life. Extension of AAFES products is authorized to allow the product to reach the shelf life listed in DLAM 4145.12 for similar or like product provided that conditions of wholesomeness, condition, and quality are met and that packaging and storage conditions are capable of protecting the product during continued storage. Additional extensions are authorized so long as product meets above criteria of condition, quality, wholesomeness, packaging, and storage capability and the responsible officer determines that he/she has the capability to utilize product while it still meets the above criteria.
- Manufacturer Shelf Life Extensions of Frozen Foods: Some items shipped overseas are produced and packaged but then frozen by the manufacturer or AAFES in order to extend the shelf life. In this case, the expiration date on the original label would reflect shelf life of the product in the chilled state. The manufacturer must provide guidelines for determining the new shelf life and handling of frozen or previously frozen products. A secondary label must contain an expiration date to reflect the shelf life in the frozen state. In some cases, a production date may be used to calculate the expiration date by adding the number of months the manufacturer has expressed as the shelf life in the frozen state. This is the case for some institutional foods and retail luncheon meats and franks going to Europe and Pacific Regions. Managers should have applicable manufacturer guidelines described above on file and will provide copies to Public Health Authorities upon request. If managers do not have these available, they should request the documentation through the appropriate buyer at HQ, AAFES.
Requesting Shelf Life Extensions
When requests for product serviceability inspection and/or extension are necessary the AAFES manager will contact the servicing Public Health Authority for assistance.
Documenting Shelf Life Extensions and Product Condemnation
When AAFES owned product is extended or condemned by the Public Health Authority, AAFES requires a written statement from inspectors indicating the details of the extension or the cause of unwholesomeness and/or description of factors causing the product(s) to be unfit for its intended use. Authorized inspectors, in accordance with current Service or installation regulations and/or policies, will be the only personnel authorized to sign AAFES extension or condemnation documentation.
Product determined to be unwholesome or unfit for its intended use will be discarded IAW local procedures. AAFES management and buyers will determine if disposal of older products that remain wholesome and in usable condition is an appropriate measure to manage inventory.
Inventory management will not be used as a justification for condemnation or to deny extension. AAFES will manage excess inventory by redistribution, discounting, or disposal as appropriate. Concerns about inventory management will be addressed to local managers and to the office of the AAFES Staff Veterinarian at DSN 967-3604/3736 or COMM (214) 312-3604/3736 or email at PubHealth-FoodSafety@aafes.com.
Services Food Directorate,
Public Health AND Food Safety Office,
HQ Exchange Dallas, Texas