Food Engineering/Manufacturing/hot sauce


QUESTION: Hello Mr. Clark., I try both, sodium benzoate and  sodium bisulfite in the preparation of hot sauce. My ph is below 3.5 so far bisulfite preserve color better. But gives the sauce a little of a bitter after taste. Any suggestions?

ANSWER: There may be a concentration of sodium bisulfite that preserves color but has less after taste. You can only determine this by trial and error. The maximum allowable concentration for many preservatives in the USA is 0.1%, but most are still effective at lower concentrations, such as 0.05 %. It is worth trying. Some sauces have added EDTA, again at about the same levels. At 3.5 pH, you may not need a preservative; that is testable as well.

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QUESTION: Sir., hot sauce lab report came back as follow: water activity 0.915 - pH 3.34.... of the two ( benzoate or bisulfite ) which would be more appropriate to use...

Either or both could work for your sauce. The water activity is fairly low, though not low enough for complete protection alone. However, under the hurdle concept, each attribute contributes to protection - low pH, low water activity, and preservatives. You can probably use lower concentrations of preservatives because of the low water activity and low pH.Try to determine the maximum level at which flavor is not impacted.

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J. Peter Clark


How various processed foods are made; ways to improve manufacturing; how to make a new food product.


Employment history: Research Engineer, U.S.Agricultural Research Service, Associate Professor Chemical Engineering, Virginia Tech, Director of Research, Continental Baking Company, President, Epstein Process Engineering, Inc., Vice Presdent Technology, Fluor Daniel, Inc., Consultant to the Process Industries

Organizations: American Institute of Chemical Engineers (Fellow) Institute of Food Technologists, American Association of Cereal Chemists, American Association of Candy Technologists, American Society of Agricultural Engineers,

Publications: Several Encyclopedias (Kirk and Othmer, Chemical Technology; Food Science, Food Technology and Nutrition; Wiley Encyclopedia of Food Science and Technology; Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems); five books, two book chapters; numerous journals.

Education: BSChE Notre Dame PhD University of California, Berkeley

Awards: AIChE Food, Pharmaceutical and Bioengineering Division Award 1998

Clients: Major food processing and pharamaceutical companies.

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