Wednesday 28 May 2014



PRESERVATIVES (from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)

1.- Permitted levels
1.1.-Recommended additives to inhibit micro-organisms

Sulphites and sulphur dioxide. Sulphur dioxide gas and sodium or potassium sulphite,
bisulphite or metabisulphite are the most common forms used.
Commonly used levels

Fruit puree can be preserved by adding 600ppm sulphur dioxide (SO2) and sealing in drums.
The semi-processed fruit can be stored for several months. Most of the SO2 that is absorbed
during storage is lost during drying, but it is recommended that the puree is boiled before
drying to reduce the levels of residual SO2.

Sorbic acid. Sorbic acid and sodium and potassium sorbate are used to inhibit the growth of
moulds and yeasts. The activity of sorbic acid increases as the pH decreases. Sorbic acid and
its salts are tasteless and odourless when used at levels below 0.3%.
Commonly used levels

Benzoic acid. Benzoic acid, in the form of sodium benzoate, is a widely used food
preservative suitable for acid foods. Benzoic acid is often used in combination with sorbic acid
at levels of 0.05 to 0.1%.
Commonly used levels

Citric acid. Citric acid is found naturally in citrus fruit. It is widely used in carbonated drinks
and as an acidifier of foods. It is less effective at controlling the growth of yeasts and mould
than the other acids.
Commonly used levels
no limit

Preservatives - permitted levels in fruit products
The use of chemical preservatives is regulated by maximum permitted levels. These amounts
vary between countries. Processors should check with their local authorities for the local
regulations and for the regulations in the country of sale.
Chemical preservatives cannot be used to cover up for poor quality raw materials. They are
only added as a precaution to extend the shelf life of products by inhibiting microbial spoilage.
Some chemical preservatives can taint the flavour of fruit juices if the recommended level is
exceeded. Some consumers prefer to consume fruit juices with no chemical additives. They
may be prepared to pay a premium for these products.

1.2.-Recommended additives to reduce PH
Organic acids, which are both naturally present in foods during fermentation or which are
added to foods during processing, have been used for many years for food preservation. The
most commonly used organic acids include citric, succinic, malic, tartaric, benzoic, lactic and
propionic acids.
Citric acid is found in citrus fruits. This acid is more effective than acetic and lactic acids at
inhibiting the growth of thermophilic bacteria.
Malic acid is widely found in fruit and vegetables. It inhibits the growth of yeasts and some
bacteria due to a decrease in pH.
Tartaric acid is present in grapes and pineapples.
Benzoic acid is the oldest and most widely used preservative. It occurs naturally in cranberries, raspberries, plums, prunes, cinnamon and cloves.
Benzoic acid is primarily used as an antifungal agent in fruit-based and fruit beverages, fruit
products, bakery products and margarine. Lactic acid is not naturally present in foods, but is
formed during fermentation of sugar by lactic acid bacteria. Lactic acid inhibits the growth of
spore forming bacteria at pH 5.0 but does not affect the growth of yeast and moulds.
Propionic acid occurs in foods by natural processing. It is found in Swiss cheese at
concentrations of up to 1%. It is effective against moulds and bacteria.

2.- Sulphuring or sulphiting
Sulphur dioxide is used to preserve the colour and increase the shelf life of dried foods. There
are two main methods of adding sulphur to foods - sulphuring and sulphiting. Sulphuring is
more common for fruits and sulphiting for vegetables. Sulphuring uses rock sulphur which may be more readily available than sodium or potassium metabisulphite. One of the disadvantages of sulphiting is that it wets the fruit (the fruit is dipped into a solution of metabisulphite). This prolongs the drying period required.

- Sulphuring -
Sulphuring involves burning elemental sulphur in an enclosed chamber. Sulphur dioxide gas is
given off, which is absorbed by the food. The sulphur chamber is either a cabinet or tent in
which perforated trays are stacked on top of each other. Food is placed on the trays inside the
cabinet. The sulphur is placed in a box close to the trays and allowed to burn for 1-3 hours. A
simple sulphur tent can be made from a rack of shelves that are covered with an airtight
polythene sheet. It is essential that the cover does not have holes and that it is firmly
anchored down at the ground to prevent sulphur dioxide gas from escaping. The amount of
sulphur used and the time of exposure depends on the commodity, its moisture content, the
sizes of the pieces and the permitted final levels in the product. For most fruits, 5-6g of
sulphur per kg of food is adequate. For most vegetables, 10-12g sulphur per kg food is
sufficient. Sulphuring should always be carried out in a well-ventilated place - preferably
outdoors - as the fumes of burning sulphur are unpleasant and can be dangerous if inhaled.
Sulphur dioxide gas is corrosive, therefore the cabinet used for sulphuring should not be made of metal. Wooden or plastic-coated metal shelves should be used within a wooden cabinet or a polythene tent.

3.- Sulphiting
Sulphiting uses sulphite salts such as sodium or potassium sulphite or metabisulphite. The fruit or vegetable is either soaked in a sulphite solution or, if the commodity is being blanched in water, sulphite can be added to the blanching water.
Adding sulphite to the blanching water is attractive since it combines two operations into one.
However, if the vegetables are steam blanched, or if they are not blanched at all, they need to
be dipped into a sulphite solution.
The strength of the sulphite solution and the dipping, spraying or blanching times depend on
the type, size and composition of fruit or vegetable.
Dipping and spraying sulphite are not generally recommended for small-scale processors.
Immersion blanching in a sodium metabisulphite solution is the most appropriate method,
provided that the chemicals are available locally.
Sulphiting must be controlled accurately to obtain the correct levels of SO2 in the food. Too
much SO2 gives the food an unpleasant smell and may be illegal according to local permitted
levels. The strength of sodium metabisulphite solution is expressed as parts per million (ppm)
or mg per kg. As a conversion, 10,000ppm SO2 is equivalent to a 1% solution. 1.5g of sodium
metabisulphite dissolved in 1 litre of water will give 1000ppm (0.1%) SO2. The most practical
way to make a sulphite solution is to prepare a stock solution of 8,000ppm (0.8%). This is
done by dissolving 12g (2.5 level teaspoons) sodium metabisulphite in 1 litre of water. The
stock solution can be diluted by adding extra water to give weaker solutions.

4.1.-The principles of pasteurisation
Pasteurisation is a relatively mild form of heat treatment, generally at a temperature lower
than the boiling point of water. Because it is a mild heat treatment, pasteurisation causes
minimal changes in the taste, colour and nutritive value of a food. Foods (fruit and vegetable
juices and purees) are generally pasteurised to reduce enzyme and microbial activity and
thereby increase the shelf life. Pasteurisation extends the storage life of bottled fruits and juices by several months. Pasteurisation is often combined with another form of preservation such as concentration, acidification and chemical preservation. The severity of heat treatment and the resulting extension of shelf life are mostly determined by the pH of the food. In low acid foods (pH>4.5) the main purpose is to destroy pathogenic bacteria. In foods with pH below 4.5, the main purpose is to destroy spoilage micro-organisms and prevent enzyme activity. Blanching is a form of pasteurisation that is applied to vegetables to inactivate enzymes and to preserve colour. If it is carried out for long enough, it may also destroy some micro-organisms. Some low pH foods, for example fruit juices and pickles, are pasteurised in their containers after packaging. The process is similar to canning, but the heat treatment is less severe. The benefit of pasteurising in containers is that the risk of contamination of the product after packaging is greatly reduced.
The main factors that influence pasteurisation of a food are as follows:
- Temperature and time
- Acidity of the products
- Air remaining in the containers

4.2.-Practical aspects of pasteurisation
In terms of practical processing of fruit juices, there are two main types of pasteurisation:
Low Temperature Long Time (LTLT) The temperature used is fairly low and the food is held at
this temperature for several minutes. There are three distinct phases of treatment: heating to
the desired temperature, holding at this temperature for the required time, cooling the
product. Two typical time and temperature combinations used for fruit juices are as follows:
63-65°C for 30 minutes 75°C for 8-10 minutes This is the method of pasteurisation most
regularly used by small-scale processors as it requires very little equipment and produces a
safe product.
High Temperature Short Time (HTST) High temperature short time pasteurisation has fewer
damaging effects on the nutritional value, especially on the vitamin content of foods. However,
it requires more accurate temperature control and slightly more sophisticated equipment.
Depending on the pH of the food, the type of product and the result required, there are a
number of different combinations of time and temperature that are commonly used. 88°C for 1
minute 100°C for 12 seconds 121°C for 2 seconds

4.3.-Pasteurisation of packaged foods
Fruit juices and purees are usually pasteurised after filling in to containers. Hot water is
normally used if the food is packaged in glass, to reduce the risk of cracking the glass. The
maximum temperature differences between the container and the water are 20°C for heating
and 10°C for cooling. Metal or plastic containers are pasteurised using steam and air as there
is less risk of the containers breaking. The food is then cooled to about 40°C to evaporate any
surface water and minimise corrosion to the container of cap.
Hot water pasteurisers may be batch or continuous. The simplest form of batch equipment is a
hot water bath in which crates of packaged food are heated to a pre-set temperature and held
for the required length of time. Cold water is then pumped in to cool the product. A continuous
version contains a conveyer belt that carries the bottles through heating and cooling stages.

During heating it is essential that the heat penetrates through to the centre of the bottled
product. The time taken for this to happen is dependent on the volume of bottle and the type
of contents. This is facilitated if the bottles are shaken or vibrated during heating, to mix the
contents of the bottle.
It is only possible to measure the internal temperature of the products by opening the bottles.
One or two bottles per batch should be used as test samples to monitor the temperature.
These cannot be used for sale as they have been opened and will therefore have a reduced
shelf life.

4.4.-Pasteurisation of unpackaged liquid foods
At the small-scale, open boiling pans or surface heat exchangers are used to pasteurise small
batches of juice. However, for larger scale activities, plate heat exchangers are widely used.
Equipment for pasteurisation
The simplest form of pasteuriser is a hot water bath in which bottles are immersed. A more
advanced pasteurising unit includes plate heat exchangers and tubes through which the liquid
to be pasteurised passes. This is quite expensive and usually recommended for large-scale

5.-Quality Assurance
5.1.-The preservation index
The Preservation Index is a measure of the preserving power of combinations of acid and
sugar (sugar is measured as total solids). The index is used to assess whether a chutney or
pickle is safe from food spoilage and food poisoning micro-organisms.
A correct balance between the levels of sugar and acid is needed to prevent the growth of
mould after the chutney is opened.
The preservation index can be used to calculate the amounts of ingredients (sugar and acid)
that need to be added to ensure a product will be preserved after opening.
The preservation index is calculated as follows:

The measurement of total solids and acidity is described below. If the processor does not have access to the type of equipment required, it is advisable to take a sample to a local bureau of standards or food testing laboratory for analysis.

5.2.-Measurement of pH
PH is an indication of the acidity of a solution. It is measured on a scale of 1 to 14 where pH1-
6 is acid, pH8-14 is alkali and pH7 is neutral. It can be measured by sipping a piece of pH
paper into a sample of liquid food and comparing the colour change with a chart supplied with
the paper. For greater accuracy a pH meter should be used.
The measurement of pH does not measure the amount of acid present. This is important in
pickling when preservation is achieved by the correct combination of acids, salt and sugar.
Another method should be used.

5.3.-Measurement of acidity
The following method is used to calculate the total amount of acid (citric acid or acetic acid) in
a product.
1. Take a 10g sample of food and mix with 90ml distilled water.
2. Add 0.3ml of indicator solution such as phenolphthalein.
3. Titrate the solution with 0.1M sodium hydroxide until the pink colour does not change. This
should be done by carefully adding sodium hydroxide from a graduated vessel such as a
4. Make a note of the amount of sodium hydroxide used to reach the end point.
5. Calculate the amount of acid according to the following formula:
% acid = number of ml sodium hydroxide x conversion factor
Conversion factors:
Acetic acid 0,06
Citric acid 0,064
Tartaric acid 0,075
Lactic acid 0,09
It is necessary to know the type of acid before selecting the conversion factor.

6.4.- Measurement of total solids
The soluble solids content of a solution is determined by the index of refraction. This is
measured using a refractometer, and is referred to as the degrees Brix. It is widely used
during fruit and vegetable processing to determine the concentration of sugar in the products.
Sugar concentration is expressed in degrees Brix. At 20°C, the Brix is equivalent to the
percentage of sucrose (sugar) in the solution (60° Brix is equivalent to a sugar content of
60%). The measurement must be made at 20°C to get an accurate value.

6.5.-Measurement of degrees brix
1. Ensure the solution is at a temperature of 20°C.
2. Place one or two drops of sample onto the prism and close the prism carefully. The sample
should be evenly spread over the surface of the prism.
3. Hold the refractometer near a source of light and look though the field of vision.
4. The line between the dark and light fields will be seen in the field of vision. Read the
corresponding number on the scale. This is the percentage of sugar in the sample.
5. Open the prism and remove the sample with a piece of paper or clean wet cotton.

6.6.-Measurement of salt concentration
The concentration of salt in pickling brines can be measured using a brine hydrometer. A
sample of brine at 20°C is filled into a large clear glass or plastic cylinder and the hydrometer
placed in the liquid.
When the hydrometer has stopped moving, the scale is read at the surface of the liquid.
The reading is converted to % salt using a conversion table suppled with the hydrometer.

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