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Ginger - Production, Main uses in food processing


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Ginger - Production, Main uses in food processing


1       Introduction

The spice ginger is obtained from the underground stems or rhizomes of Zingiber officinale

(Rosc.),   a   herbaceous   tropical   perennial   belonging   to   the   family   Zingiberaceae.   In cultivation,  it  is  usually  grown  as  an  annual.  The  whole  plant  is  refreshingly  aromatic, but it is the underground rhizome, raw or processed, that is valued as spice. Its medical value is increasingly being recognized. Ginger originated in South-East Asia, probably in India

(Burkill, 1966; Purseglove et al., 1981). The name itself supports this view. The Sanskrit name ‘Singabera’ gave rise to Greek ‘Zingiberi’ and later the generic name Zingiber.

Ginger  (Zingiber  officinale  Rosc.)  is  a  monocotyledon  belonging  to  the  family Zingiberaceae  and  to  the  order  Zingiberales.  In  the  Zingiberaceae,  it  belongs  to  the subfamily Zingiberoideae, which are aromatic with unbranched aerial stems, distichous leaves, open sheaths and hypogeal germination, mainly confined to the old world tropics with the centre of distribution in Indo-Malaysia (Purseglove et al., 1981). Among them, ginger  is  a  slender  perennial  herb,  30–100 cm  tall  with  palmately  branched  rhizome- bearing leafy shoots. The leafy shoot is the pseudostem formed by leaf sheath and bears

8–12 distichous leaves. The inflorescence is a spike which generally springs directly from the rhizome.

The  subfamily Zingiberoideae  is also noted  for two  important  spice crops, turmeric

(Curcuma longa  L.)  and  cardamom  (Elettaria cardamomum Maton).  It  also  includes a number  of  subsidiary  spice  plants  belonging  to  the  genera  Aframomum,  Amomum, Kaempferia, Languos (Alpinia) and Phaeomena (Nicolaia). The genus Zingiber Boehm has  about  80–90  species  of  perennial  rhizomatous  herbs  distributed  throughout  South- East Asia and extending to Queensland and Japan (Purseglove et al., 1981).

2       Chemical structure

The  ginger  rhizome  contains  steam  volatile  oil,  fixed  fatty  oil,  pungent  compounds, resins,  proteins,  cellulase,  pentosans,  starch  and  mineral  elements.  The  composition  of

these components varies with type of cultivar, region, agroclimatic conditions, maturity and nature of rhizome, i.e. fresh or processed (Purseglove et al., 1981). The dry ginger on average  contains  moisture  (10.85%),  volatile  oil  (1.8%),  oleoresin  (acetone  extract)

(6.5%),  water  extract  (19.6%),  cold  alcohol  extract  (6.0%),  starch  (53%),  crude  fibre

(7.17%), crude  protein  (12.4%), total  ash (6.64%), water  soluble  ash (5.48%) and acid insoluble ash (0.14%) (Peter and Kandiannan, 1999).

The characteristic organoleptic properties of ginger are due to steam volatile oil and non-volatile  solvent  extractable  pungent  components.  The  pleasant  aroma  of  ginger  is caused  by  more  than  70  constituents  present  in  steam  volatile  oil.  Among  them  the sesquiterpene hydrocarbon (-)-   -zingiberene predominates and accounts for 20–30% of the  oil  obtained  from  dry  ginger  (Purseglove  et  al.,  1981).  The  warm  pungent  taste  is caused by a number of components predominated by gingerols followed by shogaols and zingerone (Kulka, 1967). The aroma and flavour of fresh ginger will be different from dry ginger as some of the volatile oils will be lost by evaporation during drying (Purseglove et al., 1981).

3       Production Ginger is cultivated in several parts of the world, the most important producing regions being India, China, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Australia, Fiji, Jamaica and Nepal. Among them India and China are the dominant suppliers to the world market

(Table 1).

In terms of quality, Jamaican and Indian ginger are considered superior followed by West  African. Jamaican ginger possesses delicate aroma  and flavour  and is sometimes considered  as  first  grade.  Indian  ginger,  entering  the  world  market  as  ‘Cochin and

Calicut ginger,  has  a  lemon-like  byenote  for  which  some  have  a  preference  over Jamaican ginger. Chinese ginger is low in pungency and mainly exported as preserves in sugar syrup or as sugar candy. Nigerian and Sierra Leone dried ginger possess somewhat camphoraceous  and coarser odour and is rich in aroma  and pungency factors. There  is demand for them for oil distillation and oleoresin extraction.

Primary  products  of  ginger  rhizomes  for  flavouring  purposes  are  fresh  ginger, preserved ginger in syrup or brine and the dried ginger. Secondary products are ginger powder, oils and oleoresins from dry ginger.

Table  1    Area  and  production  of  ginger  in  the  important  ginger  producing  countries  (1990,

1995, 1999)

Country           1990                             1995                               1999

Area (ha)    Production                   Area (ha)       Production Area (ha)        Production

(tonnes)                           (tonnes)                           (tonnes)

India        54,000    154,000         90,100        170,800        70,000       235,000

China        5,333      54,284         12,502        130,698        13,450       157,018

Nigeria    84,000     42,000        140,000        79,000        145,000        80,000

Bangladesh              6,967             42,830       6,900             39,000       7,700         39,000

Jamaica       274          865              161              452              180              620

Nepal        1,250       3,500           1,000           3,000           1,200          3,200

Indonesia  9,612      79,891         10,000         82,631           9,900         80,351

Source: FAO Statistical Database lllp;//

3.1       Fresh ginger

Fresh  ginger  is  outstanding  for  flavouring  as  it  contains  the  full  note  of  the  spice compared to  other  products from  it.  Fresh  rhizomes  with  low  fibre  content  but  rich  in aroma, pungency, fat and protein are preferred for green ginger purposes. The crop for this  purpose  can  be  harvested  from  180  to  195  days  after  planting.  Further  maturity causes a progressive increase in crude fibre and decrease in protein and fat content.

3.2       Preserved ginger

Immature green ginger is preserved in brine or sugar syrup. Crystallized  ginger is also made  from  the  ginger  in  sugar  syrup  by  further  processing.  Crystallized  ginger  is  the peeled  ginger  impregnated  with  sugar  syrup,  dried  and  coated  with  crystalline  sugar. Succulent  ginger  rhizomes  with  very  little  fibre  and  less  pungency  are  preferred  for preserved ginger. The raw material has to be harvested within 195 days of planting. The processing  technology  of  preserved  ginger  varies  with  country.  (A  basic  idea  will  be obtained from Chinese technology.)

3.3       Dry ginger

Dry ginger obtained by drying of fresh ginger comes in the spice trade for the preparation of  ground  ginger  and  extraction  of  oleoresin  and  oil.  It  is  available  in  a  number  of physical  forms.  It  can  be  peeled  (scraped or  uncoated)  or  non-scraped  (coated  or non- peeled) and sometimes partially peeled or rough scraped. In the scraped grade, the cork skin   has   been   removed   clearly   without   damaging   the   underlying   tissue.   Grades designated  as  ‘bleached or  ‘limed are  also  available.  They  are  prepared  from  clean peeled  or  partially  peeled  whole  rhizomes  by  treating  with  lime  or  sulphurous  acid  to achieve  white  colour.  Physical  grades  like  black  ginger,  splits  and  slices  are  also available.

Dried  ginger  is  prepared  from  mature  rhizomes  which  have  developed  full  aroma, flavour  and  pungency,  and  harvesting  is  usually  carried  out  at  between  eight  to  nine months after planting. For dry ginger making, cultivars with medium-sized rhizomes with high curing percentage are preferred. The processing of dry ginger involves the following steps:

1.   Removal of roots and thorough washing of rhizomes.

2.   Preparation of rhizome for drying, which involves either peeling, splitting or slicing. When whole-coated rhizomes are to be dried, preparation is by immersing in boiling water for about 10 minutes. Black ginger is prepared like this.

3.   Sun drying: during drying, rhizomes lose moisture, about 6070% of their weight, and achieves a final moisture of 7–12%.

Jamaican ginger is clean peeled using a special knife and, after thorough washing, sun dried. Indian ginger is rough scraped, non-bleached or bleached (limed). In this, the skin is partially scraped off with a sharpened piece of bamboo. Steel knives are not used as they  stain the produce. Mechanization  is possible in dry ginger processing, in grading, peeling  and  drying.  But  mechanical  grading  and  peeling  produce  an  inferior  quality produce.  Most  of  the  producing  countries  resort  to  traditional  methods  which  employ manual labour mainly.

The  appearance,  the  content  of  volatile  oil  and  fibre,  the  pungency  level  and  a subjective  assessment  of  aroma  and  flavour  are  important  in  the  quality  evaluation  of

dried  ginger.  Cleanly  peeled  dried  ginger  in  the  whole  form  possessing  the  best appearance  generally  find  a  place  in  the  grocery  trade.  Lower  grades  of  clean  peeled, coated whole, split and sliced types are used for blending in the preparation of powdered mixed spices. All types may be used for oil distillation and oleoresin extraction, but the coated types are the most extensively used for these purposes.

3.4       Ginger powder

Ginger powder is made by pulverizing dry ginger to a mesh size of 50 to 60. Ginger is ground to release the flavour, the finer the powder, the more readily available the flavour and  readily  dispensable  in  the  matrix.  Some  flavour  may  be  lost  by  heat  development during grinding. This can be minimized by adopting cryomilling and freeze grinding.

3.5       Ginger oil

Ginger oil is produced commercially by steam distillation of freshly ground dry ginger. The yield of oil varies from 1.5 to 3.0% with an average of 2.0%. The oil obtained is a green  or  yellow  mobile  liquid  which  becomes  viscous  on  ageing  (Purseglove  et  al.,

1981). The most suitable material for oil distillation is coated African ginger, followed by Nigerian splits and Cochin ginger. Ginger oil can also be recovered by steam distilling fresh ginger peelings and the yield is 1.5 to 2.8%.

3.6       Ginger oleoresin

Ginger oleoresin is obtained by extraction of powdered dry ginger with suitable organic solvents  like  alcohol,  acetone  and  ethylene  dichloride,  etc.  Concentration  of  solvent extract  under  vacuum  and  complete  removal  of  traces  of  solvent  yields  ‘oleoresin  of ginger’.  The  yield,  flavour  and  pungency  of  extracted  oleoresin  vary  with  cultivars, maturity of rhizome, choice of solvent and the method of extraction employed. Generally a  yield  of  3.9–9.3%  with  an  average  of  6.5%  on  dry  weight  of  ginger  is  obtained. Commercial  ginger  oleoresin  usually  has  a  volatile  oil  content  of  25–30%  and  a replacement  strength  of  1  kg  oleoresin  for  28  kg  good  quality  ground  spice.  They  are offered to the consumer in liquid form or dispensed on sugar or salt.

4       Main uses in food processing

The refreshing pleasant aroma, biting taste and carminative property of ginger make it an indispensable ingredient  of food processing throughout the  world. Fresh ginger, ginger powder from dry ginger, oleoresin and oil are all used for this purpose. Fresh ginger is unique for its flowery flavour and spicy taste. Hygienic oleoresin and oil in convenient consumer  friendly  packing  and  dispenser  system  find  a  place  in  the  culinary  art  of developed countries and upper society strata of developing countries.

Ginger  preserve  and  candy  are  also  in  great  demand  for  use  in  confectionery. Chocolate  manufacturers  utilize  the  preserve  for  enrobing.  It  is  also  used  in  jams  and marmalades.  The  syrup  in  which  ginger  is  preserved  is  valued  for  pickle  and  sauce making. It is also used in the production of ginger bread (Pruthi, 1993).

In  western  countries  ginger  is  used  widely  for  culinary  purposes  in  gingerbread, biscuits, cakes, puddings, soups and pickles. It is also used in the production of alcoholic

beverages like ginger beer, ginger ale, and ginger wine. Earlier it was much favoured for spicing wines and possets (Purseglove et al., 1981). In the East, fresh ginger chopped into small bits and in the ground form are very much used in vegetarian and non-vegetarian food preparations. It is also used in pickling, soft drink making, confectionery and curry powder preparations. The unique speciality of Chinese cookery owes very much to the use of fresh ginger as ground paste. In India, in meat and fish dishes it is indispensable to make  it  palatable  and  digestible.  Buttermilk  containing  crushed  fresh  ginger,  green chillies, salt and curry leaf is a delicious drink and appetizer of South India. ‘Puliyingi a curry prepared from finely chopped fresh ginger and ripe tamarind fruit extract as main ingredients  is  unique  in  taste  and  is  indispensable  in  social  and  festival  feasts  of  the Malabar  coast.  Certain  Indian  recipes  for  ginger  wine,  fish,  meat  and  tomato  curry preparations are given below:

Ginger wine


Fresh ginger cut into pieces   1 kg

Yeast                                       small pinch

Sugar                                      1 kg

Water                                      1.5 litre


1.   Cook the ginger pieces in a pressure cooker for 10 min.

2.   When cold, keep for fermentation along with 3

4  kg sugar and yeast for 21 days.

3.   Every other day the contents are turned.

4.   On completion of fermentation, wine is squeezed out from the fermented ginger.

5.   To improve the appearance, the remaining 1

4  kg sugar is burned to brown colour and mixed with the wine.

Consuming one teaspoon of ginger wine daily is good for digestion and health.

Spicy Lamb Fry Masala


Lamb                                       750 g

Onions                                    2 medium size

Ginger                                     20 g

Garlic                                      4 cloves Green chillies           1 teaspoon Garam masala powder                        1 teaspoon Curry leaves        10 g Coriander powder                                    1 tablespoon Red chilli powder         4 teaspoon Turmeric powder                    ½ teaspoon Capsicum            ¼ teaspoon Fresh tomatoes                                  2

Ground black pepper              2 teaspoons Coriander leaves            to garnish Lemon juice                            to taste

Salt                                          to taste

Oil                                           20 g

Fresh lemon                            1


1.   Cut the meat into half-inch cubes and wash them.

2.   Cook  meat  with  salt  along  with  sliced  onions,  ginger,  garlic,  red  chilli  powder, turmeric powder, garam  masala  powder and coriander  powder on a slow fire until meat is tender and all water has evaporated.

3.   Slice some onions and saute´  them in a little oil.

4.   Add cooked meat and saute´ it until well fried.

5.   Add sliced tomatoes, capsicum, green chillies and fry them.

6.   Add ground black pepper, chopped coriander leaves and lemon juice.

7.   Serve with a garnish of onion rings, curry leaves and sliced fresh lemon.

Garcinia fish curry


Fish                                         ½ kg

Chilli powder                          4 tablespoons Turmeric powder       1 teaspoon Garlic flakes                           10

Ginger julienne                       1 inch piece Garcinia            4 pods Coconut oil                                                2 tablespoons Mustard          1 tablespoon Fenugreek                               4 seeds

Curry leaves                           1 spring Salt  to taste Water  2 glasses


1.   Cut the fish into dices and wash under running water.

2.   Heat up an earthenware pot, pour the coconut oil, crackle mustard, fenugreek.

3.   Saute´  garlic, ginger and curry leaves and add chilli powder and turmeric powder.

4.   Stir till it gets cooked and add water to it.

5.   Add cleaned garcinia pods and the diced fish into it.

6.   Cover the pot and boil it until fish gets cooked.

7.   Check for the seasoning and finish it off with a dash of coconut oil.

Tomato curry


Onions                                    2 medium Tomatoes 4 medium Cumin powder                                                1 teaspoon Ginger     10 g Coriander powder                                                1 teaspoon Turmeric powder            1 teaspoon Dry red chillies                       4

Mustard                                   1 teaspoon Oil            2 tablespoons Cashew nut                                                10 g Chilli powder     1 tablespoon Yoghurt  2 tablespoons


1.   Fry sliced onions until brown.

2.   Grind coriander powder, chilli powder and turmeric powder with sliced ginger into a smooth paste along with yoghurt.

3.   Add ground condiments to browned onions.

4.   Cut tomatoes into quarters and add to brown mixture.

5.   Fry for 2 minutes.

6.   Add 2 cups of water and boil for 5 minutes.

7.   Add salt.

8.   Give a tempering of mustard, red chillies and cashew nuts.

5       Functional properties

The nutritive value of ginger is given in Table 2. Ginger is much used in traditional Indian (Ayurveda) and Chinese medicine (Sivarajan

and  Balachandran,  1994).  Recent  research  has  supported  its  functional  value  in  the following areas:

   Ginger has excellent antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are increasingly linked to the prevention of certain cancers (Kikuzaki et al., 1994) and coronary heart disease, as well as their more established role in preserving lipid-based foods. Studies include the role of components  such  as  gingerol  in  inhibiting  linoleic  acid  autoxidation  (Kikuzaki  and Nakatani, 1993), extending the shelf-life of meat (Ziauddin et al., 1995), dehydrated pork

(Fuijo et al., 1969) and fermented meat sausage (Al-Jalay et al., 1987).

Table 2    Nutritional composition of dry ginger (per 100 g)

Composition                                   Quantity

Water (g)                                           7.0

Food energy (k cal)                         380

Protein (g)                                          8.5

Fat (g)                                                6.4

Carbohydrates (g)                             72.4

Ash (g)                                              5.7

Calcium (g)                                        0.1

Phosphorus (mg)                             150

Sodium (mg)                                     30

Potassium (mg)                              1400

Iron (mg)                                          11.3

Thiamine (mg)                                   0.05

Riboflavin (mg)                                 0.13

Niacin (mg)                                        1.90

Vitamin activity (RE)                         1.5

   There are a number of studies of the antimicrobial activity of gingerols, for example in relation  to  Bacillus  subtillis  and  E.  coli  (Yamada  et  al.,  1992)  and  Mycobacterium

(Galal, 1996; Hiserodt et al., 1998)

   Ginger  has  a  known  influence  on  the  eicosanoid  cascade  which  influences  such functions as wound healing, inflammation and platelet aggregation, and is involved in conditions  such  as  arteriosclerosis  (Srivasta,  1986;  Sankawa,  1987;  Kiuchi  et  al.,

1992; Kawakishi et al., 1994).

   Ginger  has  beneficial  effects  on  the  digestive  system,  enhancing  gastrointestinal motility,  and  is  used  traditionally  for  the  treatment  of  stomach  ache,  vomiting  and indigestion   (Yamahara   et   al.,   1990).   It   has   also   been   investigated   for   its gastroprotectant  and  anti-ulcer  activity  (Yamahara  et  al.,  1988;  Yamahara  et  al.,

1992; Yoshikawa et al., 1994).

   A recent study has investigated antitumour properties in gingerol, notably in inhibiting skin cancer (Park et al., 1998).

   Ginger  checks  cholesterol  biosynthesis  and  thereby  inhibits  hypercholesterolema

(Tanabe et al., 1993). Its role in Chinese herbal medicine  in controlling obesity has also been investigated (Wijaya and Wu, 1995).

The various functional properties of ginger are discussed in detail in Kikukazi (2000).

6       Quality specifications India  and  China  are  the  world’s  largest  producers  and  exporters  of  ginger.  Other important  producers  are  Jamaica,  Nigeria,  Sierra  Leone,  Thailand  and  Australia.  USA, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Canada are the major importers of ginger. The importing countries give top priority to the health of their  citizens  and  it  is  important  that  the  ginger  imported  conforms  to  the  quality standards prescribed by the particular country. Exporting countries also fix standards to supply required quality products to the consumers.

6.1       Indian standards In  India,  the  world  leader  in  ginger  export,  the  Bureau  of  Indian  Standards  (BIS)  has AGMARK  grading  system  for  dry  ginger  and  ginger  powder.  It  categorizes  Calicut ginger and Cochin ginger to different grades as given in Table 3 based on the size of rhizome, extraneous matter, lime content as calcium oxide and very light pieces present. Among them only garbled non-bleached ‘Cochin and Calicut meet the United Kingdom Standards.

6.2       United States standards The  United  States  Government  Standard  defines  ginger  as  the  washed  and  dried  or decorticated and dried rhizome of Zingiber officinale Rosc. The standards stipulated for ginger are given in Table 4.

The  ginger  imported  to  the  United  States  should  also  conform  to  the  cleanliness specifications stipulated by the American Spice Trade Association (ASTA) (Table 5) and  also  the  regulations  enforced  by  the  Food  and  Drug  Administration  (FDA).  The FDA has fixed defect  action  levels for whole ginger as shown in Table 6.

Table  3    Grades  of  whole  dry  ginger  with  specifications  as  per  the  ISI  specification  No. IS:1908-1961

Grade              Special characteristics              Size of                     Extraneous   Light          Lime as CaO

rhizome   matter in  pieces by by weight in

percentage    count in percentage

(max.)      percentage  (max.)


1. NGK/NGC  Pieces irregular in    Not less   2              Not          Nil

Garbled, non-  shape and size. Pale                                than 20       allowed

bleached          brown, fibrous with mm in

Calicut/Cochin                                peel not entirely length

removed. Light pieces removed by garbling

2. BGK/BGC   Pieces irregular in    Not less   2              Not          2.5

Garbled           shape and size. Pale                                than 20       allowed

bleached          brown, fibrous with mm in

Calicut/Cochin                                peel not entirely length

removed. Lime bleached. Light pieces removed by garbling

3. NUGK/K     Pieces irregular in    Not less

Ungarbled non-                               shape and size. Pale       than 20

bleached          brown, fibrous with mm in

Calicut/Cochin                                peel not entirely length

a) Special        removed.                                  3                5

b) Good                                                          4              10

c) Non-                                                           Not

specified                                                          specified

4. BUGK/C     Pieces irregular in    Not less

Ungarbled       shape and size. Pale   than 20

Bleached         brown, fibrous with mm in

Calicut/Cochin                                peel not entirely length

a) Special        removed. Lime                         3                5            4

b) Good          bleached.                                 4              10            6

c) Non-                                                           Not

specified                                                          specified

Table 4    US government specifications for dry ginger and powder

Total ash per cent not >                                7.0

Acid insoluble ash per cent >                       1.0

Crude fibre per cent not >                             8.0

Volatile oil expressed as ml per 100 g not < 1.5

Moisture per cent not >                               12.0

Starch per cent not <                                   42.0

Sieve test (for powdered ginger only)

US standard sieve size                               110.30

Percentage required to pass through not <   95.0

From  US  Federal  Specifications:  Spices  ground  and  whole  and  spice  blends.  No.EE-S-531  H,  June  5,  1975

(Purseglove et al., 1981).

Table 5    ASTA cleanliness specifications

Factors specified (not >)                                 Ginger

Mammalian excreta, mg per 1b                       3

Other excreta, mg per 1b                                3.0

Extraneous matter, per cent by weight            1.00

Whole dead insects, per 1b by count             4

Insect defiled/infested, per cent by weight      SF (3) Mouldy ginger, per cent by weight                                                                        SF (3)

Source: Sivadasan (1998).

Table 6    Defect action levels fixed by FDA

Defect                                                 Action level

1) Insect and mould infestation (MPM-V 32)           Average of 3% or more of pieces by weight are insect infested and/or mouldy

2) Mammalian excreta (MPM-V 32)   Average of 3 mg or more of mammalian excreta per pound

Source: Sivadasan (1998).

Table 7    Tolerance limits for certain pesticides and aflatoxin Pesticides    Tolerance limit Aldrin                                                  0.05 ppm Dieldrin     0.05 ppm

BHC                                                    0.05 ppm Chlordane  0.1 ppm Heptachlor     0.1 ppm Malathion                                    0.1 ppm Parathion     0.3 ppm Carbonde       0.3 ppm

DDT, Endrin                                       Not permitted Aflatoxin B1   2 ppb (max.) B1+B2+G1+G2                                   4 ppb (max.)

Source: Spices Board (1995).

Table  8    Cleanliness  and  commercial  specifications  for  whole  dry  ginger  imported  to  some

European countries

Sl. No.    Factors                           Germany    The Netherlands             UK ESA

1             Extraneous matter (% wt)                                                     1.0            1.0

2             Moisture (% wt)             12.5           10.0                   12.0      12.0

3             Total ash (% wt)              7.0             8.0                     6.0        8.0

4             Acid insoluble ash (% wt)                 1.0                     3.0        1.0            2.0

5             Volatile oil (% wt) (min.)                  2.0                     1.5         1.5           

Source: Kalyanaraman (1998).

Besides  the  above  the  FDA  has  also  specified  tolerance  limits  for  pesticide  and aflatoxin as shown in Table 7.

6.3       European Standards Importers in Germany, The Netherlands, United Kingdom and the ESA have laid down specifications  for  whole  dry ginger  and  powder  regarding  commercial,  cleanliness  and health requirements (Table 8).

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