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

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Texture Analysis in Action: the Wire Cutter

Wire Cutter attachment on the TA.XTplus Texture AnalyserOne of our simpler test attachments is the WIRE CUTTER (A/BC). 

This device incorporates a standard 0.3mm diameter wire, which is supported on a frame enabling it to cut through a 500g block of butter or similar self-supporting block-form sample. 

It can be used to measure the firmness of butter, ice cream or margarine and the consistency of cheese by measuring the force to drive the wire through the sample.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Pasta and Rice Texture Measurement and Analysis

Dry fusilli pasta pieces In the UK alone – quite apart from the dried versions – almost £150 million was spent on fresh pasta and noodles in the year to February 2015. 

Despite sluggish global volume growth, pasta offers great opportunities to international manufacturers. Sales in Western Europe will be driven by increasing demand for premium products and health properties, while in Eastern Europe, tourism to Italy will encourage consumer interest for Mediterranean cuisine. And the multi-functionality of pasta, often used as a core ingredient in soup, will propel sales in regions such as South America.

Innovation will be key to the performance of chilled/fresh pasta in Western Europe in the next few years, while dried pasta sales will be hampered by maturing consumer demand and its relatively poor health perception when compared with chilled/fresh pasta products. Wholegrain, gluten-free and fortified pasta may increase market share at the expense of less differentiated products.

Pasta is manufactured in a multitude of shapes and sizes. Quality control methods, which are often subjective in pasta production, are increasingly implemented with objective test equipment to monitor the production of consistent, high standards. Many test methods have been adopted from wheat flour quality assessment for breadmaking, but those specific to pasta have also been developed for the rheological assessment of durum flour or semolina.

Stable Micro Systems has developed objective tests for evaluating texture of formed pasta, both cooked and uncooked, demonstrating how Quality Assurance (QA) depends not only on ingredient quality, but also on other variables such as processing methods. A range of probes and fixtures for these objective tests, which have shown good potential for use as research and QA methods, is readily available.

To measure pasta texture, tests designed for use in near-line production include break strength and flexure of dried pasta, and tensile strength, firmness and stickiness tests for the cooked product. These tests, carried out on the TA.XTplus texture analyser in conjunction with Exponent software, have been developed for use as a practical, fast and cost effective quality control device.