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Guide to Inspections of Low Acid Canned Food 3

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boiling water bath (100° C/212° F).

  1. A tape measure for determining the dimensions of retorts, the length and diameter of pipes and other physical dimensions as required. A small compact tape measure at least 8 feet in length with both metric and english numbering systems is suggested. These can be purchased from any hardware store.
  2. Gauges and Vernier Calipers for determining the inside and outside diameter of pipes, bleeders, and holes in water and steam spreaders. A set of inexpensive drill bits, available in any hardware store, is useful for determining the size of small holes in steam spreaders, water spreaders, and bleeders.
  3. Dividers for measuring the temperature curves on temperature recording charts. It is useful to have two sets of dividers with a 4" to 5" span and one set of dividers with a 8" span. This allows the dividers to be set for specific temperature curves during the review of thermal processing records which may contain several different temperature curves on one temperature recording chart. Dividers can be purchased at office supply stores.
  4. A sanitary can opener for removal of the panel of the can lid or bottom during can seam tear down examinations. If no problems are encountered during the visual examination of cans and examination of the firms can tear down records and procedures, can seam tear downs may not be part of the routine cannery inspection; however can seam tear down examinations may be important to documentation of faulty seams during the inspection of a lacf manufacturer. Sanitary can openers can be purchased from laboratory and cannery equipment suppliers.
  5. Number 5 nippers for tearing down a can seam for physical examination and measurement. Number 5 nippers can be purchased at most hardware stores.
  6. A can seam micrometer for measuring can seam specifications during can seam tear down and examination. Seam micrometer can be purchased from cannery equipment suppliers.
  7. A vacuum gage, although not a necessity during a lacf inspection, can be an aid in determining the firms container vacuums. Vacuum gages can be purchased from cannery equipment suppliers.
  8. A chlorine test kit that is capable of measuring the low level residual chlorine found in cooling canals and recirculated water supplies. Other types of test kits will have to be used for other sanitizers. This test kit can be used in those situations where the firm does not have a test kit or where the investigator is unable to observe the firm checking for a measurable level of sanitizer at the exit end of the cooling canal or recirculated water system.
  9. A method of determining pH. Inexpensive pH test paper can be used for this purpose. Wide range pH test paper is normally not acceptable for determining pH in a narrow range. Narrow range pH paper in the range of the product to be tested (i.e. pH 2.8-pH 4.6) is available and can be used by the investigator to determine product pH in the field. For more accurate determination of pH a portable pH meter should be used. The portable pH meter should be standardized with pH solutions in the pH 7 and pH 4 range before use. Maintenance and calibration of the pH meter on a routine basis is required for accurate readings. pH paper can normally be obtained from the district laboratory or through laboratory suppliers. Determination of pH is useful in situations where the pH of the product is controlled as part of the thermal process (e.g., green beans are acidified to pH 4.7 to lower time and temperature requirements of the thermal process), and to aid the investigator in determining the status of products which may be lacf, acid foods or acidified foods.
  10. Safety equipment consisting of hearing protection, eye protection, safety hats, and safety shoes should be employed where required.

In cases where equipment sources cannot be identified locally, please contact DEIO (Food Group) for assistance.

CRITICAL FACTORS A "Critical Factor" is defined in 21 CFR 113.3 (f) as any property, characteristic, condition, aspect, or other parameter, variation of which may affect the scheduled process and the attainment of commercial sterility. Critical factors vary for different products, different styles of pack and for different processing systems. Critical factors may include: fill weight, drained weight, headspace, product particle size, consistency/viscosity, product maturity, product formulation, initial temperature, thermal processing temperature, thermal processing time, mechanical vacuum, % free liquid, % solids, brix, product orientation in the container, container orientation in the retort, container cooling procedures, retort come-up time and other factors identified by the processing authority. During the inspection the investigator must review the filed scheduled process and supporting

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