Low-moisture foods are not necessarily safe because they are considered “dry”. Food pathogens, including Salmonella, can survive for significant amounts of time in foods such as wheat flours, cereal, and other grain-based products. In fact, thousands of low-moisture food related salmonellosis infections are reported every year in the United States alone. Water activity is a proven way to prevent microbial growth.
Measure moisture right with water activity
Why measure water activity? Because it’s more precise than measuring moisture. Having more precision may not sound important until manufacturers calculate how much they’ll lose when they buy ingredients with too much water left in them. Water activity is an easy way to monitor this problem and can also provide moisture readings at the same time.
Deliver the right texture, every time
The right texture can make or break a breakfast cereal, literally. Water activity helps manufacturers know when loss of texture may become a problem for their product. This is especially true for products that have more than one component, like raisin bran. Water activity will predict which components will gain and lose water and whether the final water activity will deliver the correct texture.
Vitamin verification made easy
Cereals and grains, especially whole grain products, are often billed as “healthy”. In addition to being a good source of dietary fiber, whole grains contain an array of B vitamins, which can degrade as products sit in a warehouse for months before getting to the store shelf. Water activity is a better predictor of vitamin degradation than moisture content.