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Some love it with burgers, others prefer it with fried noodles. In fact, tomato ketchup has become very much part and parcel of our diet. Have you ever wondered how it is actually made?

The best tomatoes are chosen for manufacturing tomato ketchup. Out of the tons of tomatoes which are brought into the factory, only those dark red in colour are selected. Beauty is not only skin deep; even the flesh has to be rich red in colour. Workers must know how to choose tomatoes which are fleshy as seeds are not used in the production of tomato ketchup.

After the selection of tomatoes, the next step is washing. Some tomato ketchup manufacturers who are very hygiene-conscious require the fruits to be soaked for about five minutes. This is followed by spraying to ensure that every part of the surface is clean and pesticide-free.

The washed tomatoes are then ready for peeling. If you have tried detaching the flimsy skin of the tomatoes from the flesh, you will appreciate the intricacy of the process involved. Manufacturers have got round this difficulty of peeling by subjecting the tomatoes to a quick heating.

Bigger factories make use of a sophisticated steam jacketed equipment known as the Thermobreak to give the tomatoes a rapid heating. However, in smaller factories, the tomatoes are loaded into a wire basket which is then dipped into boiling water for one minute. Workers have to be adept in doing this as delay would result in the tomatoes being cooked. Then the fruit is quickly sprayed with cold water to detach the skin from the flesh. The cold shower cools down the fruit and makes them ready for peeling. Peeling is done by hand, from the bottom to the top of the fruit.

As soon as the tomatoes are peeled, they are immediately sent for pulping. In the pulper, seeds, coarse fibers and the remaining fragments of skin are removed speedily. Every minute counts as peeled tomatoes may lose their bright red colour if exposed to air for too long. Manufacturers go to great lengths to preserve the dark colour of the tomatoes. Glass or stainless steel banks are used for storing the tomatoes to ensure that the peeled tomatoes do not come into contact with iron. Otherwise, chemical reactions may occur affecting the colour of the tomato pulp. After pulping, the tomatoes become cyclone juice.

One may mistake this juice for tomato ketchup, but it does not have the characteristic flavor of the tomato ketchup that we are accustomed to. The final step is the flavoring of the tomato ketchup. Manufacturers have their own recipes for producing their own brand of tomato ketchup, and they guard their secrets very zealously. Basically, the essential ingredients are sugar, a little salt, cloves, onion, garlic and vinegar. These ingredients are cooked with the cyclone juice, giving rise to a concentrated mixture which is in fact tomato ketchup.

The final step in the production of tomato ketchup is packaging. Clear bottles are filled with tomato ketchup, capped, sealed and labeled. The bottles of tomato ketchup are then packed into cardboard boxes, ready for loading onto trucks for distribution to the wholesale and retail outlets.

A bottle of tomato ketchup costs less than two dollars. Don't you think that it should cost more, taking into consideration the amount of work involved, and that almost one kilogram of raw tomatoes is needed to make a bottle of tomato ketchup?

Answer the following questions using complete sentences.

1. What kind of tomatoes are selected for manufacturing tomato ketchup?

2. How do hygiene-conscious manufacturers wash tomatoes?

3. Why does the writer consider peeling tomato skin to be an intricate process?

4. Why is time a crucial factor from the moment tomatoes are heated to the time they are pulped?

5. State two ways how manufacturers try to preserve the dark colour of the tomatoes at the pulping stage?

6. Why do you think manufacturers wish to keep their recipes secret?

7. In the passage, what are the writer's rationales for increasing the current price of a bottle of tomato ketchup?

Fill in the blanks with one correct word from the passage.

8. Rubber latex is one of the raw materials used in the ______ of tyres for vehicles.

9. ______ acid should be handled with care because carelessness may result in serious injuries.

10. We shall inform you if there is an unavoidable ______ in the shipment of goods to your customers.

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Comprehension 1


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