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Shelf-stable beverages - pH and preservatives

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Posted 31 August 2016 - 03:35 AM

Evaluating some high acid, cold-fill shelf-stable beverages (no pasteurization) with following general ingredient list:




Flavoring Syrup (with preservatives, small amount of juice concentrates, citric acid, colors)

Citric and/or malic acid

Ascorbic Acid

Preservatives (SHMP, Potassium Sorbate, EDTA)


The equilibrium pH is very low, approximately 3.0. HACCP plan was created with pH as a CCP, and preservatives as a critical quality point. Products are formulated to produce a safe shelf-stable product. Never had any micro growth or food safety issues. Similar products have been on shelves for decades with no issues.


Now with review/update for HARPC, team is looking at changing preservative addition to CCP also. Others have argued that pH alone is not enough, considering the formula without any preservatives and acid tolerant pathogens.


I've seen studies showing acidified vegetable products with a pH of 3.3 or below may contain enough acid to ensure a 5-log reduction in bacterial pathogens without a heat treatment. Has anyone seen studies out there for other types of products or beverages.


How do others incorporate the overall formulation controls into food safety plan for these types of products? 


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Posted 31 August 2016 - 05:45 AM

Hi ustigenj,


Not my area but afaik, the danger may be survival in addition to growth ?


There is a vaguely related thread below but, from a quick look, the attachments don't answer yr specific query -



Kind Regards,



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