One of the most important measurements we make in the food industry is pH. Almost everything in food production can be altered by small changes in pH. The implications for food quality and safety are enormous.
What is the exact pH and how is it used to create the final food product specification? Learn more about the importance of pH in foods below.
WHAT IS PH? Every substance has a measurable degree of acidity or alkalinity, determined by the number of hydrogen (H) or hydroxyl (OH) ions. The ratio of these two numbers determines the acidity of a given aqueous solution. A higher relative number of hydrogen ions means that a solution that is more acidic than a solution centered on the hydroxyl will be more alkaline.
This measurement is useful for determining characteristics ranging from soil quality to water quality. For our purposes, this provides us with a useful food Hottest Sauces acidity scale.
HOW DO FOOD AFFECT PH?
Food pH scales help manufacturers understand exactly how a particular ingredient might react with another. It also defines how a product can perform in a given environment. Here are some food characteristics and processes that are affect by pH:
Production: The way we prepare food is largely influence by the acidity of the ingredients. For example, the fermentation of bread and the aging of wine are strongly influenced by pH. This acid/alkaline ratio determines the rate and duration of the reactions required to produce the desired end product. Taste: Taste varies considerably with the pH ratio. A person may prefer a bite from acidic foods and drinks – dry wine, for example. The pH level can also reduce the intensity of the sour taste. The same science can be applied to dairy products and processed foods. Texture: More than just taste, consumers judge a product by how it feels. The texture of food can make your mouth water or grind your teeth.
Adjusting the pH leads to a change in the texture of the final product, affecting consumers’ perception of pleasure. Think cream cheese versus gouda crumbs. Appearance: Appearance is as important as food. Vegetables are a prime example of food items that are judge largely by their crisp, green appearance. The appearance of products acts as a measure of pH as they play a role in color and texture. Food manufacturers can slow down color change by adjusting pH levels using specific substances and ingredients during preparation. Likewise, they were able to completely prevent the pH change with the cryogenic technique.
FOOD SAFETY IS THE ABSOLUTE PRIORITY
In addition to surface characteristics, pH concentration has a huge influence on how long a food product is safe to consume.
Over time, food products such as dairy products and raw produce lose their natural acidity. Finally, the spikes balance and the bacteria can reproduce. While timing is critical, especially for foods with a shorter shelf life, food manufacturers can use pH-altering ingredients to protect against the growth of bacteria. bacteria while maintaining food quality.
For example, food manufacturers can add vinegar or lemon juice to mayonnaise and salad dressings to significantly extend shelf life and ensure safety for consumers. From start to finish, food safety depends on precise and highly controlled pH measurements.
HOW IS PH MANAGES?
As in the mayonnaise example above, food manufacturers can add key ingredients to maintain ideal pH levels. However, the pH management process is much more comprehensive.
From the outset, manufacturers need to understand the natural pH of raw materials and how that level will change over time and in what environment. From there, they can adjust ingredients, if needed, to replace lost acidity as food production progresses.
A major part of pH management is taking detailed and frequent measurements. Because pH is an exact science, food manufacturers use sophisticated tools to monitor pH at every level of production. Thorough monitoring and record keeping helps ensure the ability to create safe and palatable food products.