Due to factors such as the high variability of raw materials, intermediate and final products, fluctuating prices, and variable processing times and yields, production planning for sausages is generally a challenging task. One of the most distinctive factors to consider in fresh food production planning is shelf life. Shelf life restrictions directly influence wastage, out-of-stock rates and inventory levels. The shelf life of a product is defined as the time in which the food product will remain safe, be certain to retain the desired sensory, chemical, physical, and microbiological characteristics as well as comply with any label declaration of nutritional data (
Kilcast and Subramanian, 2000
, according to the London Institute of Food Science and Technology Guidelines, 1993). The possibility to offer a higher shelf life than its competitors constitutes a pivotal competitive advantage for fresh food producers, making the provision of shelf life functions crucial for modern production planning systems.