Depending upon the finished goods, your ingredient specification is very important to you but to your supplier that ingredient may be just a “left over” material or “by product”. One man’s tin is another man’s gold. Due to many different reasons, a normal food production process is developed to provide a food product that consumers will want to purchase. What drives a processor to select a specific type of ingredient is based on availability, functionality, and price. Given the potential for variability in the quality of the “left over” or “by product” material, there must be a way to define the characteristics which the material must meet given the capability of the processing line to produce the finished goods.
For example, how did the idea to make Maraschino cherries come up? Cherries bruise and start to rot, throw them in a brine tank for a while. The development of the Maraschino cherry process created a new product but also allow the cherry processor a means to recover costs from “bad” cherries. Potentially Cherries that do not meet the fresh produce cherry specification could also be used for juice or juice concentrate.
Apple cider vinegar is made from beautiful USDA Number 1 apples, nope, just your usual sort offs and other by products. Basically what you need is the sugar from an apple source so your yeast can convert the sugar to alcohol which is then converted to acetic acid aka vinegar. The appearance and form of the apple sugar source have very little if any value to the finished product “apple cider vinegar”. Regardless, you need to have a specification to allow the purchase of the ingredient. In this case, the specification could be very general in nature.
Even our little friend the “tater tot or treat” is not made from a whole potato. It is made of the left over pieces of potatoes. The development of this finished goods has been making kids happy for decades. The processing opportunity is probably managed within the scope of another process line near the main processing line for the primary finished goods.
Pig skins are a byproduct of pork slaughter operations. I don’t believe anyone really thinks about the source of “pork rinds” or gelatin. But, if you were to look at a stack of pig skins on a pallet sitting next to the first processing tank, you may have second thoughts about the tastiness that wiggly bowl of Jello. It would be interesting to compare the ingredient specifications for “pork rinds” versus gelatin. Would the specification for “pork rinds” have more microbiological, analytical, or organoleptic requirements than gelatin? What if you were purchasing pork skins for “pork rinds” and got pork skins for gelatin? Even when sourcing a byproduct of this type, it is very important to have an accurate specification.
But lord help you, if you process a byproduct and some one decides to give it a negative name “pink slime”.
Just an interesting thought, of the above examples of food processing, which ones are or could be “rework” processing based upon need? As long as the non-compliant finished goods or product meets the ingredient specification, it should be an acceptable ingredient for the new finished goods processing.
But all of these processing schemes illustrate the need to have great specifications.
How do you have great specifications? You Share-ify!
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