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Ethnic and Specialty Foods in North Carolina. How do I approach them?. By John E. Rushing, Ph.D., NCSU. How do you evaluate a food product?. Let’s call these unconventional foods, “Specialty Foods”. Mexican Italian Indian Central American Chinese Japanese Bolivian Korean. British

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ethnic and specialty foods in north carolina

Ethnic and Specialty Foods in North Carolina

How do I approach them?

By John E. Rushing, Ph.D., NCSU

how do you evaluate a food product

How do you evaluate a food product?

Let’s call these unconventional foods, “Specialty Foods”

some new ethnic food restaurants in cary



Central American








Other Hispanic




Other African

Some New Ethnic Food Restaurants in Cary
specialty foods
Specialty Foods
  • Ethnic foods commonly are in this category
  • Usually refers to those foods which are not represented by major commodities
  • May use any or a combination of preservation techniques
  • Usually consist of many different ingredients in combination
some characteristics of specialty foods
Some Characteristics of Specialty Foods
  • Tend to be upscale or gourmet
  • Often preserved by acidity, or low Aw
  • Often sold in specialty shops along with being sold in grocery stores
  • Because they are more expensive, they may be “slow movers”
  • Are an attractive category to entrepreneurs


some types of specialty foods
Some Types of Specialty Foods
  • Sauces and marinades
  • Pickled products
  • High end baked products
  • Some frozen foods
  • Foods for special diets
  • May include dietary supplements
  • Foods from certain ethnic groups


food safety concerns for specialty foods
Food Safety Concerns for Specialty Foods
  • Produced by knowledgeable persons within the limits of regulations
  • Acidified foods must have been properly acidified
  • Terminal heat treatments
  • Proper packaging and protection from spoilage


major food preservation methods
Major Food Preservation Methods
  • Fermenting to achieve a low pH
  • Temperature modification
    • Refrigeration
    • Freezing
  • Canning
    • Retorting and other sterilization processes
    • Acidifying
  • Water activity control
  • Uses microorganisms to produce acid from sugars
  • Organisms may also produce other antimicrobial compounds
  • Acids will inhibit the outgrowth of bacterial spores
  • The pH is usually well below 4
  • Some foods are naturally acid
refrigerated foods
Refrigerated Foods
  • Refrigerated food pathogens are on the rise
  • Refrigerated foods should be kept below 40F and as close to 32 as possible
  • Refrigeration should be used with other hurdles, such as thermal treatments, hygienic packaging, and preservatives
  • Discard or use refrigerated products soon


acid and acidified foods
Acid and Acidified Foods
  • These foods depend on acids to prevent the growth and toxin production by Clostridium botulinum
  • Acid foods are naturally acid, such as fruits
  • Acidified foods are low acid foods to which acids or acid foods are added to achieve a final equilibrium pHof 4.6 or below


acidified foods
Acidified Foods
  • Are low-acid foods to which an acid or an acid food has been added to produce a finished equilibrium pH of 4.6 or below
  • “Low-acid foods” are those foods which have a natural pH of above 4.6
  • Are regulated under 21 CFR 114
21 cfr 114 acidified foods
21 CFR 114-Acidified Foods
  • Requires that a food plant be registered under part 108
  • Requires filing and adhering to a scheduled process
  • Requires that the scheduled process be determined by a process authority
  • Requires that adherence to the process be supervised by a certified supervisor


which are not acidified foods
Which are not Acidified Foods?
  • Fermented foods, naturally acid foods, carbonated beverages, jams, jellies and certain salad dressings are not covered by the regulation
  • Foods which have a water activity of .85 or less are not covered
  • Foods with insignificant amounts of low-acid ingredients are not covered
safety concerns for acid and acidified foods
Safety Concerns for Acid and Acidified Foods
  • Finished equilibrium pH of 4.6 or below
  • Adequate buffering capacity to prevent rapid swings in pH
  • Thermal destruction of pathogens and organisms capable of growing in and spoiling the food
  • Protecting the food from recontamination


barriers to achieving acidity
Barriers to Achieving Acidity
  • Inadequate acid in the cover brine to overcome buffering capacity of the food
  • Presence of alkaline compounds from peeling or other processing aids
  • Peels, waxing, or piece size
  • Oil in the product causing a barrier to penetration of the acid


processing acidified foods
Processing Acidified Foods
  • Hot fill and hold requires filling at 180F, capping and inverting
  • Many products are pasteurized by processing in the jar to achieve the required thermal process
  • Some products use a steam capper to eliminate the need for inverting
acid and acidified foods processed without heating
Acid and Acidified Foods Processed Without Heating
  • Many specialty products do not receive a terminal heat treatment
  • New concerns raised by the finding of acid tolerance response in certain bacteria
  • Salmonella may survive as low as pH 3.0
  • In apple cider outbreaks, E.coli 0157:H7 survived pH 3.7


spoilage of acidified foods
Spoilage of Acidified Foods
  • Usually by yeasts and molds
  • Yeasts and molds are killed by pasteurization temperatures
  • Spoilage is from underprocessing or post processing contamination
  • Benzoates and sorbates are used to inhibit yeasts and molds
foods with no thermal treatment
Foods With No Thermal Treatment
  • The pH should be below 3
  • Should be supplemented by preservatives such as sodium benzoate or potassium sorbate at 0.1%
  • May be kept refrigerated
  • Even though growth of pathogens is not a concern at low pH, survival is


fda rule for juice products
FDA Rule for Juice Products
  • Portions of the juice industry are arguing for only a mandated HACCP plan
  • FDA’s advisory panel and consumer groups recommend a 5D thermal process
  • The controversy may extend to other raw food products


foods with reduced water activity
Foods With Reduced Water Activity
  • Water activity (Aw) is not the same as moisture level
  • Think of Aw as the availability of water to bacteria in the food
  • At 0.85, hardy pathogens such as Staphylococcus will not grow and produce toxin


some important aw levels for bacteria
Some Important Aw Levels for Bacteria
  • 0.98 Optimum growth of most microorganisms in foods
  • 0.97 and below, Gram positives tend to predominate
  • 0.94 Limit of growth for Clostridium botulinum
  • 0.86 Limit of growth for Staphylococcus aureus


limit of growth for molds and yeasts
Limit of Growth for Molds and Yeasts
  • Yeasts
  • 0.90 Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • 0.62 Saccharomyces rouxii
  • Molds
  • 0.93 Rhizopus nigricans
  • 0.77 Aspergillus niger


concerns for low aw foods
Concerns for Low Aw Foods
  • Aw is difficult to measure, and must be maintained by packaging
  • Yeasts and molds must be inhibited in intermediate moisture foods
  • Sorbate and propionate are preferred inhibitors
  • Hygiene is important as organisms are not necessarily killed without a thermal process


safety in low aw foods
Safety in Low Aw Foods
  • Measure the Aw or refrigerate
  • Don’t vary the formulas for baked goods without refrigeration
  • Protect the food from moist conditions: some dehydrated foods are very hygroscopic
  • Use Aw effectively to make flavored and herbal oils


herbal foods
Herbal Foods
  • Botanicals must be correctly identified
  • Be sure that the herb is a food and that you are using the proper part or preparation
  • Herbs are to be produced under proper agronomic conditions
  • Use dried herbs in formulations with oil or properly acidify them first


dietary supplements and nutriceuticals
Dietary Supplements and Nutriceuticals
  • Dietary Supplement and Health Act of 1984 defines dietary supplements
  • Dietary supplements are not foods and cannot be represented for use as a sole item of a meal or of a diet
  • Deemed a food, but excluded from food additive safety and approval requirements when properly labeled


temperature modification
Temperature Modification
  • Refrigeration increases the lag time for the growth of microorganisms
  • Freezing inhibits the growth of microorganisms by tying up the water
  • Harmful organisms may survive refrigeration and freezing
water activity control
Water Activity Control
  • Drying removes water from the system to inhibit growth of microorganisms
  • Salting and sugaring tie water up to make it unavailable to the microorganism
  • A combination of drying and salting and sugaring can be used to produce an intermediate moisture food