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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Food

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Establishment Registration & Process Filing for Acidified and Low-Acid Canned Foods (LACF): Paper Submission Instructions Part VI (Glossary Of Terms)

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1997

ACID FOOD
A food that has a natural pH of 4.6 or below.
ACIDIFIED FOOD
A low-acid food to which acid(s) or acid food(s) are added and which has a finished equilibrium pH of 4.6 or below and a water activity (aw) greater than 0.85.
AUTHORIZED COMPANY REPRESENTATIVE
The person authorized by the company to sign the registration and process filing forms on its behalf. That person should possess the knowledge necessary to answer technical questions concerning filed processes.
CRITICAL FACTOR
Any property, characteristic, condition, aspect, or other parameter, variation of which may affect the scheduled process delivered and thus the commercial sterility of the product. This does not include factors which are controlled by the processor solely for purposes of product appearance, quality, and other reasons which are not of public health significance.
EQUILIBRIUM pH
The pH of the contents of the product container. (See MAXIMUM pH and NORMAL pH.)
FERMENTED FOOD
A food preserved by the growth of acid-producing microorganisms in the food which lowers the pH to 4.6 or less.
FILL WEIGHT
The weight of the product particulates before processing. It does not include the weight of the container or covering liquid.
Fo (LEAST STERILIZING VALUE)
The number of minutes at a reference temperature of 250 degrees Fahrenheit required to kill a known population of microorganisms with a z value of 18 degrees Fahrenheit. This value must be obtained from a scientifically qualified process authority.
HEADSPACE, GROSS
The vertical distance between the level of the product (generally the liquid surface) in an upright rigid container and the top edge of the container (the top of the double seam of a can or the top edge of a glass jar).
HEADSPACE, NET
The vertical distance between the level of the product (generally the liquid surface) in an upright rigid container and the inside surface of the lid.
HERMETICALLY SEALED CONTAINER
A container which is designed and intended to be secure against the entry of microorganisms and to maintain the commercial sterility of its contents after processing. For example, a tin, steel or aluminum can; glass jar; bottle; or pouch.
LOW-ACID FOOD
Any food (other than alcoholic beverages) with a finished equilibrium pH greater than 4.6 and a water activity greater than 0.85, excluding tomatoes and tomato products having a finished equilibrium pH less than 4.7.
MAXIMUM DRAINED WEIGHT
Weight of the solid portion of the product after it has been processed and after draining the covering liquid for a specified time with the appropriate sieve.
MAXIMUM EQUILIBRIUM pH
For acidified foods, the highest finished product equilibrium pH after processing. For low-acid canned foods acidified to a maximum equilibrium pH above 4.6 for the purpose of reducing the thermal process, the maximum pH is then considered a critical factor to be listed under section D, OTHER (specify).
MINIMUM NET WEIGHT
The weight of all the product in the container, including brine or sauce, but not including the weight of the container.
NESTING
Containers which fit within one another when stacked.
NORMAL or RAW pH
For low-acid canned foods, the pH of the product or primary ingredient (e.g, green beans) in its natural state before processing. For acidified foods, it is the pH of the low-acid (pH 4.6) ingredient (e.g., pimentos) with the highest pH in its natural state before processing or acidification.
PACKING MEDIUM
The liquid or other medium in which the low-acid or acidified product is packed. For example, for "Peas in brine", the packing medium is brine.
PILOT PLANT
A processing plant that produces samples of low-acid canned food or acidified foods for market or consumer testing.
PROCESS AUTHORITY
The person or organization that scientifically establishes thermal processes for low-acid canned foods or processing requirements for acidified foods. The processes are based on scientifically obtained data relating to heat or acid resistance of public health and spoilage bacteria and/or upon data pertaining to heat penetration in canned foods.  The process authority must have expert scientific knowledge of thermal and/or acidification processing requirements and have adequate experience and facilities for making such determinations.
SCHEDULED PROCESS
The ordinarily used filed scheduled process for a given product under normal conditions.
THERMAL PROCESS
The application of heat to food, either before or after sealing in a hermetically sealed container, for a period of time and at a temperature scientifically determined to achieve a condition of commercial sterility (i.e., the destruction of microorganisms of public health significance as well as those capable of reproducing in the food under normal non-refrigerated conditions).
WATER ACTIVITY (aw)
A measure of the free moisture in a product. It is the quotient of the water vapor pressure of the substance divided by the vapor pressure of pure water at the same temperature.
WATER ACTIVITY CONTROLLED PRODUCTS
Low-acid canned foods which rely on control of water activity, in conjunction with a thermal process, to prevent the growth of microorganisms of public health significance as well as microorganisms of nonhealth significance.