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

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Substituting your Meat at mealtimes: Part 7: Meatballs and nuggets – texture comparison

Multiple puncture probe - meatball testDespite the simplicity of penetration tests when faced with a non-homogeneous product, penetration is highly compromised as a smaller surface area for measurement is also more sensitive to variations in sample structure and low reproducibility and misleading data is obtained. 

Results may show a wide variance between maximum and minimum forces depending on whether the probe meets with, for example, internal structure variation such as is usually present in meat products.

The use of a Multiple Puncture Probe that penetrates the sample in several regions (Figure 11) serves to create an averaging effect and is therefore usually more repeatable. Using several testing pins, attached to the TA.XTplus texture analyser, manufacturers can test non-uniform products containing particulates of different size, shape, structure and levels of hardness, to provide repeatable results. 

The testing method also offers flexibility. When testing small samples the operator can adapt the fixture by removing pins if necessary, such as for the testing of meatballs or chicken nuggets.  

Test results graph - meatballs
Test results chart - meatballs 

Figures 12a/12b show the comparison of soya balls and beef meatballs when tested with the Multiple Puncture Probe. Beef meatballs were shown to require considerably higher force and work to penetrate (which would be perceived as a ‘firmer/tougher bite’ by consumers) than soya balls. However, soya balls produced results with much higher variability reflecting their inconsistent textural quality.

Multiple Puncture Probe - nuggets test
Similarly, chicken and Quorn nuggets were compared using the Multiple Puncture Probe (see Figure 13). Chicken nuggets were shown to require similar maximum force and slightly higher work to penetrate (which would be perceived as a ‘firmer/tougher bite’ by consumers) than Quorn nuggets (Figures 14a/14b). Chicken nuggets, however, produced results with much higher variability reflecting their inconsistent textural quality.


Test results graph - nuggets
Test results chart - nuggets

TPA (Texture Profile Analysis)
In certain circumstances, TPA (Texture Profile Analysis) compression may be a suitable technique (Figure 15a). 

TPA test
When using TPA the general rule is that this test is meant to be a high deformation test and therefore a high % strain is advised, for instance 80%. 

A typical TPA curve is shown in Figure 15b comparing soya balls and beef meatballs.

TPA curves

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We can design and manufacture probes or fixtures for the TA.XTplus texture analyser that are bespoke to your sample and its specific measurement.

Once your measurement is performed, our expertise in its graphical interpretation is unparalleled. Not only can we develop the most suitable and accurate method for the testing of your sample, but we can also prepare analysis procedures that obtain the desired parameters from your curve and drop them into a spreadsheet or report designed around your requirements.

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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