Ice Cream Glossary for Manufacturing and Labeling

Many times during a client discussion, a term is used and they will ask what a term refers to. I believe that when a person decides to venture into the world of pasteurized dairy and nondairy product manufacturing, they should be familiar with terminology involved in a daily conversation. With that said, I have assembled a list of terms that are commonly used in the dairy industry manufacturing and sales.

Be familiar with the terms so you are not completely in the dark when speaking with a co-pack manufacturer, distributor, plant manager, sales force or trucking company.


  • Butterfat – The fatty portion of milk
  • Milkfat – The fatty portion of milk
  • Overrun – The percentage of air incorporated into ice cream during the freeze process
  • Total solids – A measure of the combined content of all inorganic and organic substances contained in a liquid in molecular, ionized or micro-granular suspended form
  • Emulsifier – a substance that stabilizes an emulsion, in particular a food additive used to stabilize processed foods.
  • Emulsify – A suspension of tiny droplets of one liquid in a second liquid.
  • Stabilizer – Substance used to keep a liquid steady or stable
  • Gums – Controls the structure and mobility of liquid
  • Inclusion – Pieces of nuts or candy
  • Shrink – Waste, typically calculated as an acceptable percentage of loss during production over an annual basis
  • COG – Cost of Goods, the total cost of a product that does not include profit margin  
  • CWT – Hundredweight, commonly equivalent to 100 pounds in the US equals 45.359 kilograms in the U.S, also known as the centum weight
  • Kg – Metric weight, a unit of mass equal to 1000 grams: the basic unit of mass in the International System of Units


  • Conventional Pasteurization –  a process of cooking and cooling in a vat vessel which kills microbes, mainly bacteria in dairy and beverage. US FDA legal, heating fluid dairy to 145 °F for 30 minutes
  • HTST Pasteurization – Fluid dairy is forced between metal plates & through pipes heated on the outside by hot water, milk heated to 161 °F for 15 seconds.
  • UHT  – Ultra-heat-treating, processing holds the milk at a temperature of 284 °F for four seconds, UHT processing milk is sterilized and not pasteurized. This process lets consumers store milk or juice for several months without refrigeration
  • ESL Pasteurization – A microbial filtration step and lower temperatures than UHT milk. Since 2007, it is no longer a legal requirement in Europe to declare ESL milk as ultra-heated, consequently it is now often labeled as “fresh milk” and advertised as having an “extended shelf life,” making it increasingly difficult to distinguish ESL milk from traditionally pasteurized fresh milk.
  • Homogenization – A process by which the fat droplets from milk are emulsified and the cream does not separate
  • Fruit Feeder – Automated bin which evenly disburses candy, nuts and other inclusions into ice cream
  • Variegator – Swirl viscous flavors and purees into ice cream using a pump
  • CIP – Clean in place (closed cleaning circuit)
  • COP – Clean out of place (open cleaning system)
  • MSDS – Material safety data sheet – accompanies an ingredient to support product identity
  • GMP – Good Manufacturing Practices – Best practices in manufacturing
  • QA – Quality assurance
  • QC – Quality control
  • SQF – Safe Quality Food Institute – Quality management standard
  • HACCP – Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points
  • ISO 9000-1 – International Organization for Standardization – Quality management standards
  • CCP – Critical control points
  • FSIS – Food Safety and Inspection Service / USDA
  • Plant Cost – A cost per unit value, typically comprising of total operating expense (overhead) divided by annual unit output   
  • Julian Code – A continuous count of days and fractions since noon Universal Time on January 1, 4713 BC (on the Julian calendar)


  • Aseptic Fill – Also called the “perfect fill” achieving contamination free filling eliminating harmful bacteria, viruses, or other microorganisms
  • Irradiation – Used to sterilize packaging to attain 100% bacteria kill prior to aseptic fill
  • HDPE – High density polyethylene, a translucent package to hold pasteurized liquids
  • PET – Polyethylene terephthalate, used in clear plastic bottles to hold beverages     
  • PVC Shrink Film – Polyvinyl chloride and ideal for high speed applications  
  • Bundle Shrink Wrap -Polyethylene film primarily used to over-wrap multiple units and designed to leave both bundled ends open
  • NLEA – Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990, requires nutrition labeling of most packaged foods to list all nutrient content claims (like low fat) and health claims to meet FDA regulations
  • UPC – Universal Product Code, also termed barcode, 10 numeric digits identifying the manufacturer and product size   
  • SKU – Stock Keeping Unit, a product identification code for a retail merchant to help track the item for inventory


  • LTL – Less Than Truckload shipping or less than load, transportation for relatively small pallet freight
  • FOB – Free on Board or point at which the buyer takes possession of goods
  • Refer Unit – The refrigeration system used on trailer trucks to maintain cool or freezing temperatures in a trailer
  • Distributor – An independent shipping and delivery service that purchases from the manufacturer to sell to customers  
  • Over the Road – Transportation (Semi Truck) between cities or states
  • Pack & Pedal – A local delivery service where the driver also rotates and places product on the retail store shelf
  • Skid – A wooden or plastic pallet
  • Turns – The number of times a product comes in (purchased) and out (sold) in a retail store during a week or month time period
  • FIFO – First In First Out, product rotation term where new product is stocked at the back of the shelf as opposed to simply placed in front of older product   
  • Freight Forward – Or forwarding agent, a person or company that organizes shipments for individuals or corporations to move goods from the manufacturer to a customer or final point of distribution.


  • Spiff – An immediate bonus for a sale
  • Broker – An independent agency that is paid commission by the manufacturer for selling and representing their products
  • Demo’s – Demonstrating and sampling products directly to the customer, a face to face service to promote and sell products   
  • Mom & Pop – Small business usually family owned and operated
  • SRP – Suggested Retail Price, the amount seen on a product or retail shelf, negotiated price by the manufacturer and retailer
  • MSRP – Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price, a price established by the manufacturer
  • B2B – Business to Business, a manufacturer selling directly to another company to sell to their customers  
  • B2C – Business to Consumer, a manufacturer selling directly to the consumer  
  • Margin – The difference between a product or service’s selling price and the cost of production.
  • Markup – The amount added to the cost price of goods to cover overhead and profit.
  • ROI – Return on Investment, typically calculated to establish the length of time an investor can get their money back plus interest
  • Par Level – Periodic Automatic Replenishment, the minimum quantity of an item stocked, which will be automatically reordered when the level falls below a preset level
  • PO – Purchase Order, a commercial document issued by a buying customer to a selling manufacturer, indicating types, quantities, and agreed prices for products or services

Call Darryl at 727-851-6229 | Email Darryl