The flash freeze plate is simply a restaurant (or home) appliance that generates a freezer temperature on the top plate of the unit.  Most units go from on to flash freeze in 10-15 minutes.  Once at freezer temperatures, the unit can remain on for as long as needed.  The simple process is to place food items on the surface where they freeze.  The gastronomy aspect of this is to use the ingredients and physical shape of the food and freeze it.  Layers can be made.  Ice cream can be mixed and rolled.

Hazards: none outside of the normal 42-134F temperature danger zone.  The fact that these units are designed for “flash” freezing implies that the cooling below 42F will occur quickly.  So, like normal non-special processes, the handling of the food before freezing must remain safe.  If a chef were to rotate flash freezing between raw foods and ready-to-eat foods, there could be cross-contamination.  However, if the items are frozen on parchment, then this is less of a concern.

Controls: Follow standard food code food processing controls: minimize 42-135F to ≤ 2h, and describe your method to prevent cross contamination.

Special Process or not?  No, this is not a special process, since controls are all typical for regular food processing at retail.  This can be considered another piece of kitchen equipment like a blender.

Issue 1: Cook-Chill or Sous Vide 3-502.12 (D)(2)

(f) Held in a refrigeration unit that is equipped with an electronic system that continuously monitors time and temperature and is visually examined for proper operation twice daily, with a verifiable electronic monitoring device to ensure that times and temperatures are monitored Pf

(g) If transported off-site to a satellite location of the same business entity, equipped with verifiable electronic monitoring devices to ensure that times and temperatures are monitored during transportation, Pf and

Cook chill (sous vide) stored at 34F (30 days) transferred to 41F (7 days). Note this option was inadvertently left out of the 2013-2017 food codes. A 2018 Issue was submitted, approved, and the FDA will make these changes to the 2017 (update) Food Code.

Molecular gastronomy combines artistic culinary experiences and passion with the scientific and technical foundations of food science.  Freeze-drying various foods is one of the methods currently being explored by these cutting-edge chefs.  Another is the rotary evaporation (concentration) of food essences.

The rotovap can be used for two purposes: 1) to concentrate non-volatile components in a mixture (e.g, concentrating flavors from a blood orange by removing the water), and 2) to extract the volatile aroma and flavor molecules from mixtures gently (e.g., extracting the desired flavors from a blend of alcohol, herbs, and fruit without heating the mixture up).  The key to understanding any distillation is to remember that it is a separation. Sugars, acids, colors, and most bitter compounds are separated from aromas, alcohols, water, and small flavor molecules, etc.

Is this a “Special Process”?  Are there food safety concerns?


Is this a “Special Process”? This question would hinge on the evaporation process itself.  Are PHFs subjected to conditions that could permit the growth of pathogens?  If yes.  Then, yes, it’s a special process.  What food safety concerns are there?  (Biological hazards) Basically, it is a temperature danger zone question.  If 42-134F for more than 2 hours, an operator would need to demonstrate why their specific process is safe.  (Chemical hazards) Do no harm.  The distilled chemicals must not be toxic at the concentrations the chef might use them at.  Any legal concerns?  Yes.  It is not permitted in the USA to distill alcohol.  The government fears it will not get its taxes.  It is permitted to have a small rotovap.  Some Chefs feel that if they use alcohol that has been purchased (tax paid), then they are meeting the spirit of the law.  Also, there are some plant distillates that are not legally permitted in some states (examples are certain Hemp CBD derivatives).

Is this a “special process” under the Food Code?  Yes.  A PHF (TCS) food is being freeze dried to be non-PHF (non-TCS).

The technology and equipment for freeze drying has improved to the point that small operators and even some home preservers can join in.  Pictured is a line of freeze dryers from Harvest-Right (look them up on your own).  From a food safety standpoint, this “special process” is low risk.  Foods MUST be frozen first.  Then the water is removed by sublimation (solid direct to a gas) inside the machine.  The machine also maintains the freezing temperature, so time to dry is not important.  The loss of flexibility or pliability indicates food dryness.  A dry, crunchy, food item is likely to have a water activity close to 0.3, well below the 0.85 pathogen cut off level.

Molecular gastronomy combines artistic culinary experiences and passion with the scientific and technical foundations of food science.  Freeze-drying various foods is one of the methods currently being explored by these cutting edge chefs.

Day 1 Large size notes (pdf)

Day 2 large size notes (pdf)

Last March 2018 ROP Notes (pdf)

Special Process Meats

Bringing the farm to the fork (microgreens, etc)

Molecular Gastronomy

The digital revolution !!

Online courses available NOW

What the heck are

  • shrubs? gingerbug(s)? trotters? shiokara?

Retail-foodservice processes of concern

  • Cold Brew Coffee and Tea
  • Insects as food – crickets
  • Inclusions – PHF layered or inside a non-PHF
  • Appalachian salt-rising bread (aka perfringens bread)
  • Farmer’s markets (where everyone becomes a retailer)

Special Processes (non-meat)

Special Process Auditing

  • Record (desk) inspection
  • Live (in-person) inspection

Get your certificate

Black garlic is “hot fermented” fresh garlic (Allium sativum) has been produced in several Asian cultures for centuries.  Full bulb garlic is kept at a controlled high temperature (60–90°C | 140-195°F) and high humidity (80–90%) for a week to several months.  A Maillard reaction (browning) turns the garlic its black color.  Natural biota (bacteria and yeasts) capable of growth at these high fermentation temperatures contribute to some chemical changes, while the heat of the process results in other chemical changes.  In the end, the garlic is sweeter, lacks allicin (sulfur bitterness), and is umami-rich.  Unfortunately, there is little research-based information on the “fermentation” characteristics of black garlic.

Food Safety | The “fermentation” temperature MUST be at 57°C (135°F) or above.  Failing to maintain this temperature control could lead to foodborne illness.  Foodborne illness bacteria will begin to grow at temperatures just under 57°C (135°F) including Clostridium perfringens and Clostridium botulinum.  The toxin produced by C. botulinum is the most potent and deadly toxin known to man.  For that reason a temperature datalogger is recommended.  This tool will monitor temperature for many weeks.  The data can be downloaded to a computer file.  It is advised to place the datalogger unit outside the fermentation chamber and the probe inside.  Prolonged exposure to the warm temperatures and high humidity can shorten the life of the datalogger unit.

The black garlic fermentation is quite different than a traditional vegetable fermentation like sauerkraut (cabbage) or pickles (cucumbers).   Both cabbage and cucumbers have natural (biota) lactic acid bacteria that rapidly ferment the vegetable sugars in a salt brine at ambient temperatures.  This rapid fermentation inhibits the growth of pathogens like C. botulinum.  Once the brine reaches an acidity pH of 4.6 or less, C. botulinum cannot grow.  The black garlic fermentation may or may not result in an acid fermentation.

The post-fermentation properties of the black garlic determine how it must be stored for safety (ambient or refrigerated).

  • If the pH is ≤ 4.2; the black garlic may be packaged for ambient (room temperature) sale.
  • If the pH is > 4.2; the black garlic must be refrigerated or,
  • If the pH is > 4.2; and the Aw (water activity) is ≤ 0.85, the black garlic may be packaged for ambient (room temperature) sale.
    Note that water activity meters are expensive (> $2,000).  Some food testing labs will test a sample for Aw at $10-$30 each.

Black Garlic Production HACCP CCP Summary

Fermentation temperature ≥ 57°C (135°F)

Critical Limit Monitoring Corrective Actions Verification Records
≥ 57°C (135°F) Digital Thermometer
If < 57°C (135°F)
Datalogger chart
Calibrate thermometer
Save chart to
computer file

*Another corrective action would be to test the pH.  If the pH ≤ 4.2; then the temperature critical limit is no longer needed.

Acidity (pH) ≤ 4.2 required for ambient storage

Critical Limit Monitoring Corrective Actions Verification Records
≤ 4.2 Digital pH meter
(bulb puree*)
If > 4.2;
(a) refrigerate or freeze,
(b) continue to ferment
Calibrate pH meter Batch log

* Puree several bulbs.  Test pH of puree.  If needed, add one-tenth volume of distilled deionized water (not tap) to help liquefy the puree.

Water activity ≤ 0.85 required for ambient storage at pH > 4.2

Critical Limit Monitoring Corrective Actions Verification Records
≤ 0.85 Digital Water activity
meter (per batch)
If > 0.85 Aw;
(a) refrigerate or freeze,
(b) hot air dry ≥ 57°C (135°F)
Calibrate water
activity meter
Batch log