What is a Process Authority Letter?
A Process Authority Letter is a document written by a person who is deemed a “Process Authority”; someone with expert knowledge of thermal processing requirements of food products. Not all food products need a process authority letter.
There are three types of recognized process authorities for food mentioned in the U.S. federal regulations; two for FDA-regulated products, and one for USDA regulated products.
For FDA products, this includes
1. Low acid canned foods
2. Acidified foods (This includes foods with a pH of 4.6 or below) that have a water activity (aw) of greater than 0.85.)
For USDA products, this includes food products containing meat, poultry, or eggs.
If your product does not fall into any of these categories, you do not need a process authority letter.
Examples of foods that require a Process Authority Letter
- Acidified beverages (fruit juices, flavored water)
- Shelf stable coffee with milk
- Canned soups and stews
- Canned meat or seafood products
- Shelf stable meat jerky
- Acidified sauces and dressings (i.e. salsa)
- Shelf-stable RTE meals
- Shelf stable baby food
How do I Aquire a Process Authority Letter?
There are a number of private organizations that offer the review and testing required to ensure a food is compliant with the FDA or USDA regulations for these foods.