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Hanna Instruments Australia
Sales: (03) 9769 0666   |    Mon to Fri: 8:30am – 5:00pm

pH of Hot Sauce

Hot sauce has been steadily gaining attention in the eyes of consumers in Australia. Hot sauce, also known as chilli sauce or pepper sauce, is a spicy condiment made from chilli peppers.

Although the variations of hot sauce are endless, all sauces contain at least one variety of chilli pepper. The sauce might be vegetable-based with chillies added for heat, or chilli-based for a more chilli-forward flavor. Other spices and flavourings may also be included, such as garlic, black pepper, and mustard oil. In nearly all cases, these sauces have acidic ingredients added to provide a sharp, tart flavour. Most often, the acid addition is in the form of vinegar (acetic acid), but citrus juices can be used to replace or supplement the vinegar. The presence of acid helps to preserve the sauce, guarding against oxidation and microbial growth. Preparing sauces in this manner allows the sauces to be shelf-stable; sauces without acid would have to be refrigerated during storage.

Foodstuffs acidifed with additional ingredients have regulations set by The Board of Food Standards Australia New Zealand. The Standard 2.3.1 states that “A food that is fruit and vegetables in brine, oil, vinegar or water must not have a pH greater than 4.6″. The threshold value set of pH 4.6 is to protect consumers against Clostridium botulinum, which thrives at pH values above 4.6. C. botulinum is known to produce toxins that can cause paralysis and death in low doses, even if the food is cooked. As a result, the guidelines suggest that manufacturers measure pH in order to ensure that the finished product has a pH less than 4.6 and that the product is safe to sit on shelves. The guidelines provide several technologies for testing pH, such as pH paper, indicator dyes, and the potentiometric (meter and electrode) method. However, the potentiometric method is most often preferred due to its accuracy, especially when the pH of the food substance is above pH 4.0, where any amount of error can be the difference between life and death. As the pH of hot sauce varies widely based on the recipe (sometimes near the critical value), it is imperative to get accurate results during production.


A hot sauce company contacted Hanna Instruments for a pH meter to replace their old pH tester. The tester had been working well for them but since they were expanding production, they wanted a meter with more accuracy and resolution. The technical sales representative offered the HI98161 Professional Foodcare Portable pH Meter. The customer appreciated that the HI98161 is waterproof and durable, which gave him confidence in investing in a more advanced meter. Because the customer had some sauces that were in the pH range of 4.1-4.3, they wanted to be confident in their meter’s accuracy in this critical range to ensure shelf stability of their product. The customer was pleased with the CAL Check™ of the HI98161, which provided calibration reminders and clearly displayed the electrode condition on the measurement screen after each calibration. CAL Check definitely assured the customer that their calibration was valid and therefore, their readings were accurate, every time they used it.

The FC2023 electrode included with the HI98161 was also an attractive feature. Unlike the tester they had been using previously, this electrode is specifically designed for measurements in foods. The clog-resistant open reference junction on the electrode helped them achieve faster response times. Additionally, the PVDF body on the electrode made the customer more confident that the electrode would not shatter while being on the production line. Overall, the customer found that the meter and electrode added value and provided confidence in their products.

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