Two popular books ("Dropping Acid" by Dr. Jamie Koufman and "The Acid Watcher Diet" by Dr. Jonathan Aviv) claim that Title 21 of the FDA regulations require that all low-acid foods be acidified to inhibit bacterial growth.

Looking at the regulation, it appears that section 114 describes the use of acidification to preserve foods, but section 113 describes and permits the use of thermal processing as an alternative. This would contradict the books' claim that "all" preserved foods are acidified, and it's consistent with my subjective impression that many canned foods (e.g. beans) don't seem acidic at all.

Is there a blanket regulation that I'm missing? If not, what methods (such as using a pH tester or reading labels to see if they mention citric acid or similar preservatives) can be used to determine whether a particular food has been acidified?

  • 2
    Are you asking about commercially produced foods that have ingredients labels? Or home-canned foods? If the latter, if you are using a boiling-water bath you are urged to add lemon juice and salt. Only with a pressure canner can you skip acidification. If the former, can't you just read the ingredients list? – Kate Gregory Sep 29 '17 at 22:19
  • I'm asking about commercial foods. I agree that it seems like the ingredients list should list any added acids, so I'm baffled by these authors' claims and trying to figure out where they come from. – user11536 Sep 30 '17 at 14:56

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