Final product specifications are set to make sure a safe and quality product is consistently made. Specifications set the quality and safety parameters of the finished product along with information regarding packaging and storage. Specifications are used to determine product characteristics that would be out of spec or unacceptable to sell and how that product will be handled.
For attributes that you were unable to measure in the lab, research values for similar products to yours. This will likely be the case for microbiological specifications.
Components of the Final Product Specification
1. Physical Attributes
- pH, Aw, moisture, etc. – how each is measured and what is an acceptable range.
- Flavor, color, texture, etc. – how each is measured and what is an acceptable range. Flavor profiles can be described as a specification.
- Size (diameter or dimensions), weight, height if applicable.
- TPC, pathogens, yeasts, and molds, etc – organisms to be tested for and an acceptable range, if any.
- See the Setting Ingredient Specification Chapter for specification examples and references.
3. Shelf-Life with Mode of Failure
See the chapter on Shelf Life and Abuse Testing for more information.
- A diagram of the packaging showing the dimensions and materials used (be specific on types of plastics, layers in a laminated bag, etc.)
- Inner and outer package specs if applicable – search resources and suppliers for specifications as needed
- For films: thickness, heat sealability, vacuum packaging, any other functional attributes
- Individual weights or count if a multi-pack
- Case and pallet configuration – optional
5. Shipping and Handling Instructions
- Temperature control, weight limits on boxes, pallet size
- The course of action if the product is put on “hold”