pH regulator is divided into two categories depends on their function, to either increase or decrease the pH of food products. Alkaline agents are used to increase the pH, while an acidulant is used to decrease a product’s inherent pH.
In both ready-to-drink and powder drink beverages, especially fruity drinks, a pH regulator is employed to accentuate their natural acidic taste. Apart from those two functions, a regulator may also be employed as a buffering agent in order to maintain the pH of a product.
Food scientists measure the acidity of a food based on its pH value. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14 with ph 7 being neutral. Any pH below pH 7 falls in the acidic range while those above pH 7 are considered to be in the basic range. Lower pH readings, indicate the food more acidic. In order to preserve foods with acidity, the regulation requires the pH to be 4.6 or below. At these levels, toxins formed by the deadly organism causing botulism are inhibited. We refer to foods which have readings greater than pH 4.6 as low-acid foods. Low-acid foods have high pH readings.
Properly acidifying to pH 4.6 or below will inhibit the growth and formation of toxins from the bacteria which cause botulism, but acidification cannot take the place of proper sanitation and care in manufacturing. The manufacturer must, therefore adhere to the highest standards of cleanliness and protection of product.