Proper handling by the manufacturer is the most critical factor to establishing good quality shelf life of pasteurized crabmeat. Shelf life is the storage time that a product has between the time of production and the time when it is no longer suitable for consumption. Processors must follow a stringent set of guidelines and record each step of production to create a product that will offer a maximum shelf life to home consumers, retailers, and food service facilities.
Storage temperature is a crucial factor in maintaining shelf life. Product that has undergone the pasteurization process and is stored between 32-35F will have a shelf life of up to one year. Buyers and users of large quantities of pasteurized crabmeat need to maintain cool rooms at 32-35F and rotate the inventory so that the older meat is used first. Limited short-duration rises in cool room temperature (though not more than one hour at a time), even as high as 40F, are not critical. However, long-term storage above 38F will shorten the projected shelf life of pasteurized crabmeat.
In addition to a shortened shelf life, long-term storage of pasteurized crabmeat may minutely change the flavor, color, and texture of the product. Users of pasteurized crabmeat should realize that these changes are more noticeable with longer-term storage and increase more rapidly with higher temperatures.