Liquid and Semi-solid Foods and Dietary Supplements

On March 3, 2011 FDA published a final rule that amended 21CFR 113, which regulates ‘thermally processed low-acid canned foods in hermetically sealed containers” to allow the use of ‘temperature indicator devices’ other than mercury filled glass thermometers.  So why am I telling you about this?  Partly because what the agency calls ‘canned foods’, which brings to mind metal containers and possibly glass jars, also refers to other aseptically processed foods and beverages. But I tell you about this mostly because this modernization from mercury filled glass thermometers is not the agency’s only recent alertness to this general sector of regulations. You see, the sister regulations for ‘thermally processed low-acid canned foods’ are regulations covering the production of ‘acidified foods’– foods which are not aseptically processed because their pH is low enough to prevent spoilage.

So what? Well, you and I and FDA have noticed many more liquid dietary supplements in the marketplace. Most contain acid ingredients and therefore, are acidified foods. However, not all manufacturers comply with the regulations of 21CFR114, which require that they register their facilities as acid food producers and file the processes by which they assure that the product will not spoil and cause public harm. This registration is separate from the more generic food facility registration. I wrote about this once before in November of 2010 but I am raising the issue again because I continue to see liquid dietary supplements that have acidic components added to them but whose processes have not be filed with FDA.  Because this regulation is important for ensuring the safety of public health, any violation could cause your company to have to cease production until FDA approves your process and your entire Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) program.

I am also concerned about these sister regulations because I have seen a number of liquid ‘alkalinizing’ products on the market—they too would fall under one of these sets of regulations. The guidance documents for these regulations are really hard to find on the FDA website and an FDA staffer in the office of Low Acid Canned Foods agreed that the regulations are difficult to understand; none the less, if you are producing a liquid or semi-solid product that is preserved in any way, you probably need to pay attention to this.

If you have any doubt about which regulations apply to your products, contact us by leaving a comment. We are here to help. If you know what regulations apply to your product but need help complying with them—contact us.

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