For a cheap ingredient, water can cause a lot of expensive problems–microbial growth, mold, loss of texture, caking and clumping, rancidity, vitamin loss. The best way to understand water in your product is by learning how to measure water activity.
Why water activity?
Water activity’s usefulness as a quality and safety measurement was suggested when it became evident moisture content could not adequately account for microbial growth fluctuations. The water activity (aw) concept has served the microbiologist and food technologist for decades. It is the most commonly used criterion for safety and quality.
If you’re a food manufacturer, product formulator, or food scientist, this comprehensive guide can help you use water activity to improve product quality and safety, avoid scrapping expired product that is still good, stop selling unexpired product that is actually bad, avoid paying too much for packaging that doesn’t help your product, and more. Includes:
- What water activity is, why you need it, how to measure it
- Water activity vs. moisture content
- Water activity measurement method comparison
- Government regulations that recommend water activity
- How water activity simplifies shelf life
- How water activity controls microbial growth, improves texture, stops moisture migration, slows chemical reactions and physical degradation, and more
- Moisture sorption isotherms: what they are, how to create them, how to use them
- Why moisture content is not accurate
- A scientific definition of water activity