Water Activity in pharma applications is not something new, but is often overlooked in favor of main- stream analytical laboratory technologies like HPLC, GC etc. Because there is little regulatory pressure on doing water activity measurements, this parameter is somewhat overlooked in the pharma industry. Contrary to this, demand is steadily increasing for aw testing because of the benefits it has for API (active pharmaceutical ingredients.) These include stability, low microbial risk, optimized formulation, reduced caking and clumping and low moisture migration which all have massive product improvement advantages.The resulting key benefits are: Less consumer complaints, greater confidence, higher production output with consequently better products for the consumer and greater profits for the manufacturer.Conclusively, water activity is a powerful, and often essential, quality parameter for pharmaceutical products.

Read more: Water Activity in Pharma: A powerful and under-used essential quality parameter

By Dr. Brady Carter


Indeed, food quality control and safety is a complex topic and many different ideas and point of views are present. The tricky thing is to find exactly the methods and instruments which provide the results needed for good decision if a batch is fine or not. Of course, expertise for interpretation of those analytical values is also important to profit from the different analyses.

Read more: Do you control your product quality, or are you controlled by it?

Dr. Brady Carter


Low moisture food ingredients are utilized by most food manufacturers because of their easy handling and longer shelf life. Examples of low moisture ingredients include milk powder, flour, sugars, starches, and spices. When considering the stability of powders and spices, the most common mode of failure is likely caking or clumping because it makes them difficult to handle and impacts production efficiency [1]. However, an additional concern for powders and spices which has more recently gained attention due to several product recalls originating from low moisture ingredients is microbial safety [2,3]. While it may seem strange to discuss the microbial safety of ingredients whose water activities fall well below the lower limit for microbial growth, it is still possible to for low moisture ingredients to be carriers of microorganisms.

Read more: Deconstructing changes in the stability of Powders and Spices with Water Activity

As published in Cannabis Science and Technology, Aug 2019 

By Dr. Brady P. Carter

Water activity is widely recognized for the safety it provides to food because of its control of microbial growth and it is considered a critical control point for preventing microbial contamination. Water activity provides this same determination of safety in cannabis and consequently is already a part of cannabis regulations in many states.

Read more: The What, How, and Why of Water Activity in Cannabis

Hear the word ‘cannabis’ and it’s perhaps an image of spliffs that most readily springs to mind. Things are changing, however. Cannabis products are increasingly promoted in countries or states where consumption of the bi-product CBD is legal.

CBD is already used in everything from biscuits to gummy sweets. To create a safe, edible CBD product, the necessary measures HACCP and QC need to be applied and water activity plays a key role here.

Read more: What role does water play in the emerging cannabidiol sector?

Water Activity Definitions

Wikipedia describes Water activity as an element amount used to symbolize the energy status of the water in a system. It is determent as the vapor pressure of water above a sample divided by that of pure water at the same temperature, consequently, pure distilled water has a water activity of exactly one. It is extensively used in food science as a easy, clear-cut measure of the dryness of food, foods characteristically have an optimum water activity at which they have the greatest shelf life. Water activity is also used in the pharmaceutical production and chemicals for moisture sensitive products.

Read more: What is Water Activity?

By Dr. Brady Carter


Pet food production is one of the fasted growing industries worldwide valued at $91  billion  dollars  in  2018  (1 ).  Gone  are  the  days  of  feeding  your  pet  scraps  from the table; pet food today is carefully formulated to provide healthy diets, avoid allergies, and provide variety. With the increasing value of pet food comes increased expectations for safety, quality, and consistency. Correspondent with increased expectations has been more intensive governmental oversight and regulations.  When  the  Food  Safety  Modernization  Act  (FSMA)  was  signed  back  in 2011 , it included recommendations to make regulations on pet food production equivalent with human food production. The last of these updates in regulations went  in  to  place  for  very  small  businesses  as  of  September  2018  (2).  Meeting these new FSMA regulations while still making a safe, quality product that is profitable is the current goal and challenge of the pet food industry.

Read more: Is Water Activity the most important Pet Food Specification?