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

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

The Texture of Food for Infants

Baby's hand with jar of foodThe weaning period is a transition from milk to family foods and is a critical phase for the development of food acceptance and eating habits of children. 

The texture of the food introduced plays an important role in shaping preferences. Texture acceptance follows the developmental sequence of oral functions and infants are more likely to accept texture they can manipulate in their mouth. 

Presently, ready-to-eat foods are an important part of weaning foods in most of the developing and developed countries. These commercial preparations meet nutritional needs at different age groups. Nevertheless, there is limited information available on the texture of these commercial preparations. 

Back extrusion test for assessment of consistency
Back extrusion test for
assessment of consistency
Measuring Consistency & Cohesiveness 
The Back Extrusion Rig offers an invaluable measure of product consistency. A sample container of the test matter is compressed by a disc plunger attached to the TA.XTplus texture analyser, which extrudes the product up and around the edge of the disc. The effort taken to do this is measured using Exponent software and results give an indication of consistency. 

Graph obtained by back extrusion highlighting the areas where parameters of interest are obtained
Graph obtained by back extrusion
highlighting the areas where
parameters of interest are obtained
Such a measure relates to the body or flowing nature of the product, its mouth coating potential and spoonability. Achieving the desired texture of semi-solid product is therefore possible, and can be monitored from batch to batch, and throughout the product’s lifespan.

Easy delivery from a pouch
Stand-up flexible pouches are an attractive mealtime option to parents due to the fact that they can be conveniently carried around and then opened and fed to the baby on the move with easy handling and delivery of the contents. The flexible pouch was very much led by the squeezable baby fruit sauce packages but now when we observe the retail food shelves, we see ketchup, mayonnaise, wine, salsa and a whole host of fluid food products in stand-up flexible pouches.

The flexible package not only protects the food contents, but can also be manipulated to accommodate tight spaces for consumers packing the product on the go and/or finding room for it in the refrigerator, freezer, pocket, purse, or pantry. Flexible pouches containing the same volume of product as rigid or semi-rigid containers are not as bulky on the retail shelf, making more space available. The flexible package unit weighs less and occupies less space on distribution vehicles, which translates into lower distribution cost per product unit.

Sachet/Tube Extrusion Rig attached to a Texture Analyser
Sachet/Tube Extrusion Rig
attached to a Texture Analyser
The Sachet/Tube Extrusion Rig quantifies the force required to extrude the contents of tube and sachet style packaging and allow manufacturers to quantify the ease of removal and application of products. The rig allows the positioning of the end of a sachet or tube vertically between two rollers, clamping the closed end with a grip at the top. The grip then pulls the sachet/tube upwards through the rollers, forcing the contents out. The higher the force recorded during this test, the more difficulty a consumer would experience in squeezing out the required amount.

By testing the force required to extrude the contents of a sachet or tube at regular intervals over a long period of time, product developers can analyse changes in a product's consistency throughout its shelf-life and adapt formulations accordingly. Test results from this specially designed extrusion rig can alert manufacturers to a product’s suitability for packaging in this format. Such a test at this stage of production could spell the difference between a successful and appealing product and one which will cause waste and inconvenience. 

For manufacturers, failure at the last hurdle would bring disappointment and huge material losses. For parents struggling to feed their babies with product handling difficulties would spell the end for brand loyalty of this product type.

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!

To discuss your specific test requirements, click here...

Watch our video about texture analysis Replicating Consumer Preferences
 Texture Analysis applications

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