Food Science Terms - C

Cacao: Tropical tree (Theobroma cacao) of the sterculia family native to South America and now widely cultivated in the Old World. The fruit is a pod that contains a sweet pulp with rows of embedded seeds. 

Caffeic acid: Type of phenol found in various fruits, vegetables and citrus fruits which has antioxidant like activities that may reduce the risk of degenerative diseases, heart disease and eye disease. 

Caffeine: Naturally-occurring substance found in the leaves, seeds or fruits of over 63 plant species worldwide and is part of a group of compounds known as methylxanthines. The most commonly known sources of caffeine are coffee and cocoa beans, cola nuts and tea leaves. Caffeine is a pharmacologically active substance and, depending on the dose, can be a mild central nervous system stimulant. Caffeine does not accumulate in the body over the course of time and is normally excreted within several hours of consumption. 

Caffeine in chocolate: Amount of caffeine in chocolate is very low. A 1.4 ounce piece of milk chocolate contains about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of decaffeinated coffee. There is an average of 6 mg of caffeine in both an ounce of milk chocolate and a cup of decaf coffee, while a cup of regular coffee contains between 65 and 150 mg of caffeine. 

Calcium: Mineral that builds bones and strengthens bones, helps in muscle contraction and heartbeat, assists with nerve functions and blood clotting. Teens 18 years and younger should strive to consume about 1,300 milligrams per day. Individuals 50 years and older need about 1,200 milligrams per day. Everyone else should strive for about 1,000 milligrams per day. Milk and other diary foods such as yogurt and most cheeses are the best sources of calcium. In addition, dark green leafy vegetables, fish with edible bones, and calcium fortified foods supply significant amounts. 

Calibrate: Determine and verify the scale of a measuring instrument with a standard, known instrument. Thermometers used in food establishments are commonly calibrated using an ice slush method 0°C (32°F) or a boiling point method 100°C (212°F). 

Calorie: Unit of energy. In heat terms, it is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 10°C. Likewise, the term kilo-calorie is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1000 grams of water by 10°C. The kilo-calorie unit has largely been replaced by the Joule (1 kcal = 4.2 kJ). Any surplus energy taken into the body as food is stored as fat. 

Candling: Egg passing over a light. Eggs with cracked shells and interior defects are identified and removed.   

Canning salt: Also called pickling salt. It is regular table salt without the anti-caking or iodine additives. 

Canning: Process used to preserve foods. Food products are enclosed in a sterilized container totally impervious to microbes and heated to kill all microorganisms

Capacity of flour: Used to calculate bakery recipes. 

Carbohydrase: enzyme that breaks down carbohydrate into simpler sugars

Carbohydrates: Main source of energy in the diet. One of the key macronutrients made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Sugars and starches are examples. Characterized by the structure of C, H and O atoms

Caramelization: process by which monosaccharides and disaccharides are browned by the application of heat; a form of non-enzymatic browning. This is a technique to brown food and add flavor. Caramelization occurs when sugar is heated until its molecules react to form other colors and flavors. This can occur with the natural sugar in fruits and vegetables or with added sugar. This is why bitter vegetables like turnips (which contain starches – or sugars) turn sweet when roasted

Carbonation: when carbon dioxide dissolves in a liquid and produces gas bubbles, producing a fizzy sensation

Carboy: A large glass bottle with a narrow opening used to ferment beer. 

Carcass weight and grading: One way of pricing live farm animals; the final value of the animal is determined after slaughter based on carcass weight and grade. 

Carcinogen: substance that causes cancer and harmful to consume

Carcinogenic: causing cancer

Cariogenic: causing tooth decay

Carotenoid: Yellow, orange and red pigments in plants, such as tomatoes, bananas, and carrots, often masked by chlorophyll and thought to function as protective antioxidants. 

Carrageenan: polysaccharide compound extracted from Irish moss (a type of seaweed) that is used in as a food additive for thickening, gelling, stabilizing in puddings, milk shakes and ice cream to stabilize and keep color and flavor even. 

Carriers and carrier solvents: Used to modify a food additive (by dissolving, diluting or dispersing etc.), without changing its function, to enable easier use or handling. 

Case hardening: Formation of a dry skin on a wet food due to over-rapid drying. It slows the rate of drying and can lead to spoilage during storage. 

Casein: protein found in milk

Casein micelle: molecule found dispersed in milk, made up mainly of casein proteins and calcium phosphate salts

Caster Sugar: Produced by screening the finer crystals from ordinary granulated sugar. Its grain size is typically less than 0.3 mm in length, as against some 0.5 - 0.7mm for the usual granulated crystal. 

Catalyst: Compound that facilitates a reaction without being altered in the process. 

Catechins: Type of flavonoid found in tea which provides the health benefits of neutralizing free radicals and possibly reducing the risk of cancer. 

Cavity: Metallic enclosure in the microwave system where the microwaves coming from the waveguide do the heating. 

Celiac disease: common digestive condition caused by an adverse reaction to gluten in which the immune system can damage the lining of the small intestine

Cell lysis: Rupturing of a bacterial cell. 

Central kitchen: Food production facility in which food is produced for service off site in receiving kitchens (satellites), often a large production facility. Also known as a commissary or a food processing center. 

Central meat processing: Movement of meat cutting and processing operations to a central point (usually a retail chain warehouse) in the meat distribution channel. 

Centralized Foodservice System: Food production facility in which food is produced for service off site in receiving kitchens (satellites), often a large production facility. Also known as a commissary foodservice system. 

Centrifugation: Process by which liquid samples are spun around at high speed to cause the accelerated settling of particles in suspension. 

Certification: Procedure by which official certification bodies or officially bodies provide written or equivalent assurance that foods or food control systems conform to requirements. Certification of food may be, as appropriate, based on a range of inspection activities which may include continuous on-line inspection, auditing of quality assurance systems, and examination of finished products. 

Chalazae: opaque ‘ropes’ of egg white holding the yolk in place; weakens on aging, causing the yolk to float up

Chemical hazard: Danger posed to food safety by the contamination of food by chemical substances, such as pesticides, detergents, additives, and toxic metals. 

Chemical indicator system: System using calibrated chemical agents (one type of which changes color as a function of time and temperature of exposure to heat) to determine whether a process cycle has met the specified requirements. 

Chemical inertness: Substances or elements which do not react easily with any other substances or elements. Chemically inactive materials. 

Chlorination: Addition of chlorine to water to destroy micro-organisms. 

Chlorine: Chemical used in the form of hypochlorites in sanitizing solutions. Chlorine compounds can tarnish and corrode metals like pewter, brass, and silver plate, if used in incorrect concentrations. 

Chocolate: Food prepared from ground roasted cacao beans.

Chocolate liquor: Ground up centre (nib) of the cacao bean (otherwise known as unsweetened chocolate) in a smooth, liquid state. It contains no alcohol.

Chocolatier: Person or business that makes or sells chocolate confections. 

Cholesterol: type of lipid, classified as a sterol, and is an important fat-soluble compound in animal cells found in most body tissues (therefore, animal fats), but only found in trace amounts in plants (therefore, vegetable oils). An essential part of cell membranes, vital for healthy body function. Made by the body and also found in dietary sources

Citric acid: Form of acid that can be added to canned foods. It increases the acidity of low-acid foods and may improve the flavor. 

Clean: Free of visible soil including food particles and dirt. Example: Removal of all grossly visible fecal material, followed with a power wash of all surfaces using detergent to remove adherent proteins and debris would be expected to result in a clean finishing area. Merely removing all grossly visible organic matter and pressure-spraying with water alone would NOT result in a clean area. 

Clostridium Botulinum: Vegetables, some tomatoes, figs, all meats, fish, seafoods and some dairy foods are low acid. To control all risks of botulism; jars of these foods must be (l) heat processed in a pressure canner, or (2) acidified to a pH of 4.6 or lower before processing in boiling water. 

Clouding agent: food additive that makes beverages look more cloudy by creating oil-droplets emulsion; used in fruit juices

Co field flow: One possible configuration for a PEF continuous chamber. 

Cobalamin: Another name for vitamin B12. 

Cocoa: Obtained by fermenting the pods and then curing and roasting the extracted seeds. The resulting clean kernels, or cocoa nibs, are then processed. Cacao products have high food value due to their fat, carbohydrate, and protein content. Powder composed of at least 22% cocoa butter.   

Cocoa bean: Seeds from a pod of the Theobroma tree. 

Cocoa butter: Cocoa butter is a natural fat that is present in cocoa beans. It is obtained by pressing the unsweetened chocolate, or “chocolate liquor”. Cocoa butter is not a dairy product as is sometimes thought. 

Cocoa butter alternative (CBA): Any of a number of specialty fats designed to replace some or all of the cocoa butter in confectionery applications. This group of fats is frequently categorized on the basis of the dominant properties of the source of oils present. 

Cocoa butter equivalent and extenders (CBE): Equivalents are fats which behave like and are compatible with cocoa butter in any proportion. Extenders however can be mixed with cocoa butter to a limited extent without significantly altering its melting, processing and rheological properties. 

Cocoa butter replacer: Specially engineered fat designed to replace or extend cocoa butter (typically in confectionery applications). Depending upon compatibility with cocoa butter, replacers are sometimes divided into partial and complete. 

Cocoa powder: The cocoa solids resulting from pressing cocoa butter out of chocolate liquor. 

Coenzymes: Small molecules that help enzymes carry out biochemical reactions. Many of the vitamins are coenzymes or are converted into coenzymes in the body. 

Co-extrusion (or Co-ex film): Multi-layer plastic film made by extruding two or more molten plastics and layering them together to produce a film on cooling. They are designed for many special-purpose packaging for flexible wraps, bags and pouches.   

Cold pack: Canning procedure in which jars are filled with raw food. "Raw pack" is the preferred term for describing this practice. "Cold pack" is often used incorrectly to refer to foods that are open-kettle canned or jars that are heat-processed in boiling water. 

Cold pressed olive oil: Extracted oil from olives using a mechanical, and without any addition of chemicals or heat. The process takes place at temperatures less than 35°C. 

Cold smoked: Product is smoked in a relatively cool smoking chamber and not cooked. Product not considered shelf-stable requires maintenance of at most a 5°C (41°F). internal product temperature during smoking. 

Coliforms: Bacteria (primarily E. coli and Enterobacter aerogenes) used as an indicator of the sanitary quality of food. High levels of coliforms indicate the presence of fecal contamination in food and water. 

Collagen: Protein that is the main constituent of the body's connective tissues. It acts as a structural component and often aiding elasticity

Collagen hydrolysate: Functional component of gelatin which may help improve some symptoms associated with osteoarthritis. 

Colligative properties: Properties which depend on the number of molecules in solution, a function of concentration and molecular weight, rather than just on the total percent concentration. Such properties include boiling point elevation, freezing point depression, and osmotic concentration. 

Colloid: mixture in which one substances (solid, liquid or gas) is evenly dispersed in another (solid, liquid or gas) eg milk

Colony: Cluster of microorganisms growing on a surface of or within a nutrient medium. A colony contains millions of bacteria cells. 

Colony forming unit (CFU): Unit of measurement for viable bacteria numbers. 

Colors: Used to restore or reinforce color lost during processing or storage, to give color to foods which otherwise would be virtually colorless (such as soft drinks) and to ensure uniformity from batch to batch. 

Commercial chocolate: Commercial chocolate does not mean real chocolate. The criteria for a substance to be classified as commercial chocolate allows for a number of substitutes. 

Composite: Flours mixtures of wheat flour (usually more than 80%) with other flours such as maize, rice, sorghum etc(usually less than 20%). 

Compound: Known as confectionery coating. A blend of sugar, vegetable oil, cocoa powder and other products. Vegetable oil is substituted for cocoa butter to reduce the product cost and to make the coating easier to work with. 

Compression time: Recorded time to bring a mass of food from 0.1 MPa to process pressure(s). 

Concentration Factor: Ratio of aliquot volume divided by the final volume. 

Conching: Raw unprocessed chocolate is gritty, grainy and really not suitable for eating. The name 'conching' comes from the shell-like shape of the rollers used. 

Conditioning: Standardization of the moisture content of grains or oilseeds before milling. 

Conductivity (electrical): Physical property of a food material that determines its ability to conduct electricity and is expressed in Siemens per cm (S/cm). In ohmic heating, it enables heating to occur. 

Conductivity (thermal): Physical property of a food material which determines its ability to conduct heat. Expressed in Watts/meter oC.   

Confectionery fat: Describes a broad range of fats used in the formulation of confectionery products, for example, fats used in taffy and caramel to provide lubricity. The primary application for confectionery fats is in formulation of compound coatings. 

Conjugated lenoleic acid (CLA): Type of fatty acid found in cheeses and some meat products which may provide the health benefits of improving body composition and decreasing the risk of certain cancers. 

Consistency: Sensoric physical property of a food (texture) e.g. firm/soft, rough/smooth, elastic/visco-elastic, spreadable. 

Consumer: Any person who uses goods and services. 

Consumer control points: Points in the process of food preparation when harmful microorganisms can contaminate the food. When conditions such as time, temperature or moisture may encourage the growth of microorganisms. Food handling practices that prevent food borne illness are critical at these points. 

Contamination: Process by which harmful or unpleasant substances (such as metal or plastic material, strong odors, bacteria or poisons) get into or onto food. 

Continuous chamber: Opposite to static chamber, it processes liquid foods that are pumped between pulsing electrodes. 

Continuous HPP process treatment: Treatment of liquiform products using a hold chamber designed to insure every food element receives a specified residence time at process pressure (and temperature) with subsequent means for the product to do work during decompression followed by aseptic or clean filling of packages. 

Control point: Position in a food processing or handling system where inadequate control would result in food contamination, but there are management programs, procedures, or practices downstream of this position to prevent the material or food from reaching the consumer. 

Convenience foods: Food items that have been purchased pre-processed and that may or may not require additional preparation before serving. 

Conventional cook-chill: When foods are cooked by conventional methods prior to aseptic packaging and chilling. These foods can be refrigerated for up to five days. 

Conventional foodservice system: Foodservice system in which food is purchased all along the food processing continuum, prepared, and served to customers on site. 

Conventional heating: Heating of a substance by transfer of thermal energy from a heating medium to a low temperature product. 

Converter plate: Heavy metal (usually lead) plate that converts an electron beam into Bremsstrahlung X-rays with a broad-band photon energy spectrum. 

Couverture: Special kind of chocolate that has more cocoa butter than regular chocolate, anywhere from 33% to 38%. This type of chocolate is used as a coating for things like truffles. There are two ways of coating candies, either by hand dipping into melted chocolate or enrobing, gently pouring chocolate over the confection. 

CPET (Crystallized polyethylene terephthalate): Type of plastic suitable for microwave packaging. It is heat resistant to 220°C and transparent to microwave energy. 

Craft beers: Beers that are made by independent brewers, using only quality malt and hops and employing traditional brewing methods. 

Critical Control Points (CCP): Points in the flow of food through a foodservice operation where controls can be put in place to prevent food borne illness. Critical control points include such steps as receiving, storing, preparing, transporting, and serving foods. 

Critical control: Stage in a process where quality control can have a major effect on food quality and safety. 

Critical faults: Faults in a product or package that would injure a consumer or cause substantial financial loss to the producer. 

Critical process factor: Any specified process condition and specified limit (see process deviation) required to achieve a desired/specified residual level of activity of a specified pathogen. For instance in HPP critical process factors can include, but not be limited to, process pressure, product IT, process temperature, pH, Aw, product composition, compression time, and process pressure hold time. 

Critical temperature zone: temperature range of 5-63°C in which harmful microorganisms can grow and which must be avoided as much as possible during food-storage

Cross contamination: Transfer of harmful substances or disease-causing microorganisms to food by hands, food-contact surfaces, sponges, cloth towels and utensils that touch raw food that are not cleaned, and then touch ready-to-eat foods. Cross contamination can also occur when raw food touches or drips onto cooked or ready-to-eat foods. 

Cross-field: Ohmic heating system where the electric field is aligned across the product flow path. 

Crumb: Internal structure of baked products, especially bread and cake. 

Crustacean: Any of the various aquatic arthropods, including lobsters, crabs, shrimps and barnacles. Characteristically have segmented bodies, chitinous exoskeletons and paired, jointed limbs. 

Cryogenic freezing: type of freezing done by immersing food in or spraying with liquid nitrogen

Crystallization: where molecules come together in a highly ordered arrangement forming a solid with a high melting point

Curing: method of preserving meat (eg pork) and fish (eg salmon), usually using salt or compounds such as nitrites or nitrates

Cyanocobalamin: Chemical name for vitamin B12. 

Cyclamate: Sweetener which is 30 times sweeter than sucrose, calorie free and heat stable and works synergistically with other sweeteners. 

Cyclotron resonance: Phenomenon that occurs when the frequency of revolving ions induced by a specific magnetic field intensity is similar to the frequency of that magnetic field and parallel to it. In these instances, energy may be transferred to the ions, affecting cell metabolic activities. 

Cyclotron: Accelerator in which particles move in spiral paths in a constant. 



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