Validation of Thermal Processes Applied to Low-Water Activity Foods

Original Air Date: Tuesday, August 23rd

This webinar outlines the concept, design and execution of appropriate validation strategies and procedures intended to mitigate microbiological hazards in LWAF.

In the context of FDA regulations, low-water activity foods (LWAF) are those products with a water activity (aw) of less than 0.85. For many decades, these products were believed to present a low microbiological hazard risk. This was the case because the small amount of “chemically-free” water in these products is not sufficient to support active growth of bacterial pathogens. However, various food related illness outbreaks, starting with a massive outbreak of salmonellosis due to peanut butter consumption in 2008-2009, raised awareness of the risk resulting from extended survival of pathogens in these products even in the absence of active growth.

This situation spurred the promulgation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, signed into law in 2011. The resulting regulations required the validation of control measures intended to eliminate or mitigate the risk of microbiological hazards in these type of products. Thermal processes (e.g., roasting, drying, extruding, baking, etc.) originally intended to provide desirable functional or preservation properties in these products are often claimed to deliver a “kill-step” against microbial pathogens. In these cases, the food processor must scientifically demonstrate that such processes are capable of delivering the claimed pathogen reduction. 

What you will learn during the presentation: 

  • How low-water activity foods contribute to various food related illnesses
  • Appropriate validation strategies procedure for LWAF
  • How to alleviate microbiological hazards in LWAF


Shirin Abd

Senior Research Microbiologist at Eurofins Microbiology Laboratory


Wilfredo Ocasio, Ph.D.

Senior Director, Advanced Micro Group Eurofins Microbiology Laboratories

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