How to measure and analyse the texture of food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and adhesives.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Gels and Films Texture Measurement and Analysis

Measurement of gel strength using the TA.XTplus Texture Analyser
The measurement of gel strength and film properties is of widespread interest in the manufacture of pharmaceutical, medical and cosmetic products. 

Gel strength is a measure of the ability of a colloidal dispersion to develop and retain a gel form. Other gel properties such as elasticity and rupture force of, for example, pectin, gelatine, agar etc. are important in the development of such products as coronary stents where hydrogel polymers are selected due to their soft, rubbery nature which gives them a strong, superficial resemblance to living, soft tissue. 

Other product areas in which gel-forming properties are useful are the manufacture of wound dressings, jelly lubricants, contact lenses, suppositories, soft gel capsules and bacterial growth media. The strength of gels can also be utilised in products such as toothpaste, creams and pastilles to modify the consistency of the required end product. 

Quite apart from the applications within pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, the use of gels and films is now increasingly common in the food industry. One area which has been subject to rapid development in recent years is commented upon here.

Edible Films
Edible films/coatings are being studied for food applications because of their potential for providing a barrier or encapsulating material against hazards by being used to carry active food-grade additives or functional ingredients such as antioxidants, antimicrobials, flavourings or pigments or nutritional substances contributing to microbial and chemical stability and nutritional quality of the packaged foods.   

In a similar application they can also be used on the surface of food as a coating material for nuts, beans, shelled eggs and fruits to improve their mechanical integrity, provide textural interest, gloss or tack characteristics or to control the diffusion rate of preservative substances from the surface to the interior of the food.  

Researchers in Spain have put a film of aloe vera gel on fresh produce and found it prolonged the shelf life of the fruits and vegetables.

The films can be tailored to be applied inside heterogenous foods at the interface between different layers of components to prevent mass transfer phenomena that could deteriorate the quality of foods such as pies, sandwiches, pizza and confectionery products.  The separation of a moist filling in a product such as a fruit pie can avoid the crust becoming soggy and less desirable.

Edible films and coatings have received considerable attention in recent years because of their potential to reduce and simplify the packaging materials required for the protection of food products. They afford numerous advantages over conventional non-edible synthetic polymeric packaging because of their biodegradability and ability to be consumed with the packaged products. They can be used as wraps or formed into pouches, bags, casings or sachets but even if the films are not consumed they can still contribute to the reduction of environment pollution by the improvement of recyclability.  

The films are produced exclusively from renewable, edible ingredients and therefore are anticipated to degrade more readily than polymeric materials. 

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To see a summary of the types of testing possibilities that are available for the measurement of texture of gels and films to ensure consistent quality and ultimately, consumer satisfaction, watch the video below...

View meat testing video

You can also visit our website's Gels and Films Applications page...

For more information on how to measure texture, please visit the Texture Analysis Properties section on our website.

TA.XTplus texture analyser with bloom jar The
TA.XTplus texture analyser is part of a family of texture analysis instruments and equipment from Stable Micro Systems. An extensive portfolio of specialist attachments is available to measure and analyse the textural properties of a huge range of food products. Our technical experts can also custom design instrument fixtures according to individual specifications.

No-one understands texture analysis like we do!

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Watch our video about texture analysis Replicating Consumer Preferences

 Texture Analysis applications

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