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

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Fruit Texture: How to measure detachment and deseeding force

Farmer picking grapes

Measuring Detachment Force

Table grapes are highly perishable, non-climacteric fruits. Their shelf life is shortened by loss of firmness, berry drop, discoloration of the stem, desiccation and fungal rots.

The berry drop is due basically to dry-drop (or abscission) – ethylene in conjunction with falling auxin levels, induces the formation of an abscission zone at the pedicel-berry junction, thus stimulating their drop. Grape varieties susceptible to berry drop present a huge problem for successful storage and marketing. For this reason it is required to predict and control the harvested abscission of grape berries, which is not only of inherent scientific interest, but it also has considerable commercial significance.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Fruit Texture: How to measure flesh firmness of non-homogeneous fruits

Multiple puncture test on melon
Testing fruits of non-homogenous nature or variable texture, such as water melons where there is a high seed content, is not only tricky by any puncture, shearing or compression method, but often results in low reproducibility and misleading data.

In any of these tests, the data may show wide variances between maximum and minimum force resistance, depending upon whether the probe or fixture meets with less or more seeds or variable texture when tested. By penetrating the product in several areas at the same time, the Multiple Puncture Probe produces an averaging effect and is therefore more representative.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Fruit Texture: How to measure flesh firmness of prepared homogeneous fruit samples

Mango cube
A compression test may be the preferred test method, but where fruit samples vary in size this will immediately reflect in the magnitude of force measured as it is subject to surface area differences and consequently the reproducibility of results will be poor.

In this instance, the fruit will be required to be prepared into pieces of accurate dimensions – usually cubes or cylinders.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Fruit Texture: How to measure the overall firmness of a weight or quantity of fruits

This type of test commonly applies to:
Kramer Shear Cell
Kramer Shear Cell

a: Soft fruits: drupelets and berries – e.g. cranberries, blueberries, blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, pomegranate arils, grapes

b: Fibrous samples: such as pomegranates, citrus fruits, pineapples which have been prepared into pieces.
c: Pieces of fruit that have been prepared into smaller pieces e.g. apple cubes.

The primary issue of these types of samples is that they are usually of varying sizes or are of non-homogeneous nature and therefore make comparisons difficult. They therefore have a high variability from piece to piece within the same batch and require a large sample set to be tested. Puncture or compression tests to rupture are possible but usually produce results with poor repeatability.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Fruit Texture: How to measure the firmness of whole fruit by compression

Lady eating appleFruit can alternatively undergo a mild non-destructive test where the deformation response of a large cylinder probe or platen is measured to effectively mimic the compression between one’s fingers.

However this has the problem of measurement variability due to differing contact area with the fruit surface which varies because of irregularities in fruit shape and size and results may then be compromised for the convenience of using such a test.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Fruit Texture: How to assess skin strength and flesh firmness of whole fruits

Penetration test of avocado sample
Penetration test of avocado
sample using a P/3 Cylinder
Probe and the Circular Support
The measurement of firmness is of paramount importance to know the proper maturity and ripening stage during growth and storage of fruit.

Firmness can be an indicator of immaturity or overmaturity. Excessive peach firmness, for example, can indicate an immature peach with little free juice. Conversely, an overmature, soft peach can be excessively juicy and prone to bruises.

Where individual fruits are to be tested, penetration testing (using a cylinder or ball probe smaller than the fruit) provides a constant surface area for testing which often reduces the variability of results when compared to compression testing data.

Measuring the skin strength and flesh firmness of whole fruit

A penetration test destructively measures firmness by registering the force required for a Cylinder Probe (generally from 2mm – 8mm in diameter), Magness-Taylor Puncture Probe, or Ball Probe, to penetrate the fruit’s flesh to a chosen distance and is frequently used for testing firmness of a wide variety of fruits. Magness-Taylor probes are commonly used, widely accepted in the field of testing of whole fruit and have historically been the reference measure for firmness in many fruits as this method has shown good correlation with consumer acceptability for firmness. With probes of this size and shape the skin will yield once penetrated and the underlying flesh can also be measured.

Penetration testing has the benefit of not requiring samples to be of the same size and does not require sample preparation. However, orientation of the penetration is important as samples of this nature are anisotropic. The depth of penetration varies according to the fruit size and proximity to e.g. pits, cores and it is sometimes possible to perform tests on both sides of each fruit tested e.g. peaches. Some larger berries are commonly penetrated using a small (e.g. 2-3mm) Cylinder Probe and the maximum force taken as the firmness value. 

Penetration test of apple using a Needle Probe
Penetration test of apple
using a Needle Probe
For ease of testing, the fruit is often cut in half and the fruit laid down onto the sample platform cut surface down in order to stabilise the sample for penetration testing of its side. This method may be the only testing option if there is limited availability of sample to test but repeatability may be compromised. To obtain reliable results and reduced variation in this way, special attention should be paid to aspects of size, ripening stage and growing conditions.

This type of test primarily assesses skin strength/toughness and elasticity, yield point and resilience, the ripening and softening profile and the firmness of the underlying flesh. Some researchers prefer to remove a small section of the skin/peel with a razor blade so that penetration can be performed on the flesh only and the test is isolated to the measurement of flesh firmness.

A Penetration Test of Whole Fruit can be applied to:
a: Fruit with pits: where the outer skin covers a soft, fleshy fruit and the fruit surrounds a single, hard stone, or pit, which contains the seed – cherries, apricots, nectarines, peaches, plums, avocado, olives
b: Fruit with cores: where there is a central seed-containing core surrounded by a thick layer of flesh – apples, pears
c: Large fruits without cores: melons – large, juicy fruits with thick skins and many seeds

d: Citrus fruits where a measure of the peel characteristics are required: these possess a thick outer rind and a thin membrane separates the flesh into segments – e.g. oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, kumquats, lemons, limes

e: Starchy fruits: banana – pasty homogeneous starchy fruits with very soft texture; easily mashed to pulp or follow viscous behaviour when squashed

f: Large berries
g: Tropical fruits – papaya, figs, dates, guavas, mangoes, kiwis.

Interpretation of Whole Fruit Penetration Curve
The firmness of ripe and unripe samples can be tested by penetrating a small diameter cylinder probe into the whole fruit (around the equatorial region) and measuring the subsequent force to rupture the skin and further penetrate through the underlying tissue to a chosen distance of e.g. 5mm.

Curves of ripe vs. unripe pears
1: Curves of ripe vs. unripe pears
tested using a 2mm cylinder probe
The probe proceeds to move down onto the fruit and an initial rapid rise in force is observed. During this stage the sample is deforming under the applied force but there is no puncturing of the tissues.

This stage ends abruptly when the probe punctures through the skin and begins to penetrate into the sample flesh, which event is represented by the sudden change in slope called the “yield point” (or “bioyield point”). The yield point (maximum force) occurs when the probe begins to penetrate into the food, causing irreversible damage.

The third phase of the puncture test, namely the plateau of the force after the yield point, is an indication of the underlying flesh firmness of the fruit (1).

2: Penetration force/distance curve
and parameters
Six texture parameters can be calculated from the force-displacement curve (2). The maximum force (Fmax) represents the force required to puncture the fruit skin. Fmax represents the skin strength as is often termed the bioyield point. The probe displacement Dp, expressed in mm, is the value of the probe position at Fmax and indicates the elasticity of the skin.

Stiffness, is the slope of the first part of the curve measured from the beginning of the curve to Fmax. Work of penetration (W1) is the mechanical work needed to reach the rupture point, as is taken as the area under the curve to Fmax. Flesh firmness (Ff) is the average value of the forces measured after skin rupture. W2 is the work measured (area under the curve) after the skin rupture. 

These values can be automatically calculated with the use of a simple macro within Exponent software, making collection of parameters quick and intelligent.

Watch the video below
to see a summary of the types of testing possibilities that are available for the measurement of fruit and vegetable texture to provide quality control tools and ultimately, consumer satisfaction:

View fruit and vegetable video

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...

 Fruit and Vegetable testing videoDownload a published article covering methods for the testing of fruit and vegetables

Browse our range of fruit and vegetable testing solutions

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Fruit Texture: a world of food development possibilities with fruit / fruit firmness/ripeness

TA.XTExpress texture analyserOnly relatively recently have modern techniques in texture analysis been implemented in the fruit sector.

The embracement of more advanced testing methods and technologies has been led by increased fruit consumption in the consumer sphere, in turn boosted by increased health awareness and a global trend towards healthier living. Historically considered a ‘low value-added’ commodity, agricultural produce such as fruit has failed to attract the same level of investment and sophistication of analysis into the correlations between structural characteristics and consumer acceptability as processed foods have.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Biaxial Film Testing using a Texture Analyser – Calculating Fundamental Parameters

Film Support RigThe use of the Film Support Rig can provide a very useful test for monitoring the quality of irregular objects, such as the toughness of sliced meat. However, this test setup can also provide more fundamental stress-strain data if the sample has a known uniform thickness and homogeneous structure.

Sometimes the properties of a thin film are under investigation, but the film might be unsuitable for any other type of testing. An example would be a film of dried nail polish; depending on its properties, this can be too brittle to clamp in tensile grips, it is too thin to test under compression and it may not be large enough for bend testing. In cases such as this, the Film Support Rig is ideal, as the sample is clamped at the edges and put under “biaxial tension” by a spherical probe pushing into the centre. 

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Contained Compression Testing using a Texture Analyser – Calculating Bulk Modulus

Ottawa CellBulk modulus is a defined as the relative change in a sample’s volume when a unit compressive or tensile stress acts uniformly over its surface. 

It is a measure of how resistant a substance is to pure compression. Its measurement is possible by the use of a Texture Analyser, providing care is taken over the sample setup.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

The Measurement of Hysteresis using a Texture Analyser

Testing mattressHysteresis in the context of deforming a material is the loss of energy in the form of heat when a sample is loaded then unloaded. 

This occurs due to internal friction, and so the effect is larger for a material such as rubber, which requires the movement of large molecular chains each time it is stretched or compressed. If a piece of rubber is deformed several times in the hands, this loss of energy can be felt directly as the sample heats up. 

As can be seen on the graph, the deformation of a viscoelastic material follows a different path on the load and unload cycles. The unload cycle shows that the material is slower to recover compared to the load cycle. This difference in recovery is known as hysteresis, which is due to energy dissipation by the generation of heat.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Compression Testing using a Texture Analyser – Calculating Fundamental Parameters

Squeezing sponges
Compression testing involves a self-supporting sample being compressed under a flat probe large enough to cover the whole sample. 

The loading arm (attached to the probe) moves down at a constant speed to deform the sample, first deforming it elastically then plastically (if it is not completely brittle). If the force required to break the sample is within the limit of the load cell, fracture may occur. However, this is not always the case in compression as many samples are stronger (or tougher) in compression than in tension, especially ceramic samples.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Three Point Bend Testing using a Texture Analyser – Calculating Fundamental Parameters

TA.HD plus 3 point bend test on plastic sample

When a customer is presented with an elongated or flat food sample, one of the first things they might do is snap it between their hands. 

During this process, they are subconsciously assessing whether the food product is brittle or ductile, stiff or compliant, and strong or weak. Consequently, bend testing is a technique used very frequently by Texture Analyser users, covering everything from the snap of tablets to the toughness of dog chews. 

The analysis of this type of testing is often limited to looking at a force peak and maybe the distance to fracture. It is a very useful test for monitoring quality of irregular objects. However, this test setup can also provide useful stress-strain data if the sample has a uniform cross-section, providing accurate measurements are made of the sample dimensions. “Flexure” and “bending” have the same meaning and are often used interchangeably.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Tensile Testing using a Texture Analyser – Calculating True Stress and True Strain

Texture Analyser film tensile testThe calculation of parameters from the stress-strain graph of a tensile test has already been covered in a previous blog post. 

The calculations considered were those most often used when referring to stress and strain, and to give them their full name they would be called “engineering stress” and “engineering strain”. It is usually safe to assume that every time stress and strain are mentioned in the literature, this refers to the engineering values.

However, as the load on a sample increases, the cross-section over which the force is applied changes (it gets thinner). If the engineering stress is used (taking into account the initial area), the stress is underestimated. True stress solves this issue by using the instantaneous area over the course of application of load so that as the cross-section changes, the value of stress is calculated using the new cross-sectional area.
Additionally, whereas engineering strain is the amount that a material deforms per unit length, true strain is the natural log of the current length over the original length.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Tensile Testing using a Texture Analyser – Calculating Fundamental Parameters

TA.HDplus tensile testing
Tensile testing involves a sample held in two grips a set distance apart. The loading arm (attached to the top grip) moves up at a constant speed to deform the sample, first deforming it elastically then plastically. If the force required to break the sample is within the limit of the load cell, fracture will occur.

It is a very useful test for monitoring quality of irregular objects, such as the toughness of pizza or the texture of fish. However, this test setup can also provide useful stress-strain data if the sample has a uniform cross-section, providing accurate measurements are made of the sample’s dimensions. “Dogbone” shaped specimens are often used in tension, with two wide sections tapering to a narrower central section.

Indentation Testing using a Texture Analyser – Calculating Fundamental Parameters

Although it has long been known that some materials are harder than others, indentation tests to find quantitative hardness values only came about in the 1800s. 

Once it was established as a valuable technique, hardness testing machines started to appear on the market early in the following century. Old fashioned indentation testing involved the application of a weighted probe onto a flat sample surface that was left for a set time period. The hardness of the sample was calculated from the area of the residual dent left in the sample. “Instrumented” (computer controlled) indentation testing has now been in use for many years, and involves the collection of force, displacement and time data, which is why the Texture Analyser is so well-suited to this type of measurement.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Plasticity Measurement of Soft Solid Foods

Spreading butter on crumpetPlasticity is a property shown by many materials, such as polymers, metals and the majority of foods. It is the ability of a material to undergo permanent deformation. 

If you press your finger on a spring, it returns to its original shape. If you made that spring out of cheese, it would not spring back as far – it would remain squashed. When stretching a sample, plasticity is seen on the force-distance graph as a change in gradient after the initial linear section (straight line). The point where the gradient changes is known as the ‘yield force’. If this point is reached and more force is applied, the sample will be permanently changed. Before this point, the behaviour is elastic and spring-like.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Food Texture: A video, a webinar, latest research and capturing more

Eating a cheesy pizza

Explaining texture preference

Understanding texture preference and the trends that may result in consumer behaviour change is an area of great opportunity. However, remaining agile before a consumer shift occurs can be a challenge.

A new webinar will address this challenge and will offer:

• A view on techniques to forecast upcoming influences on food trends 

• A perspective on the linkage of newly monitored issues to texture and the process used to deliver higher value commercial insights 

• Expertise on driving rapid product development through localising relevant texture trends from around the world

Speakers: Janet Carver, Culinology Group; Mary Lynne Shafer, Ingredion; Susan Badarroco, Culinary Tides.

Watch this webinar to learn more...

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Optimise your Salmon texture testing

Ball probe test of salmon fillet
Fish is loved by consumers – it is unique, nutritious and well-balanced. The four quality elements of food are texture, appearance, flavour and nutrition.

Compared with the meat of livestock, tissue of fish is more soft and delicate in its chemical composition.

With the development of people's living standards and of the food processing industry, texture has attracted more and more attention. 

A recently published paper describes several texture parameters, analyses various factors affecting fish tissue texture especially the protein composition of fish muscle tissue from 3 aspects – physical factors, chemical factors and post-mortem changes – and mainly reviews the effects of different processing methods such as heating, freezing, salting and smoking on texture of fish meat.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

The Texture of Dairy Foods is as important as flavour and colour

Eating yoghurt
Texture can make or break a product’s perception. How to talk about it, how to target it and how to tap into the ingredient toolkit is a definite requirement for dairy developers. 

With everything from Greek-style yoghurt to efforts at fat reduction underscoring texture’s importance, there’s no time like the present to turn texture to your advantage.   

“In the past, consumers didn’t really notice texture until it was ‘wrong,’ such as a powdery texture in a smoothie or a slimy, cohesive texture in a sauce,”
said Shana Brewer, a marketing manager at Ingredion Inc., Westchester, IL. 

“But food manufacturers are now using texture as a key differentiating quality to improve a product’s overall consumer appeal.” 

She cites as proof the uptick in front-of-package texture claims, noting that research from Innova Market Insights found the use of texture claims more than doubled globally over the last five years.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Testing the Behaviour of a Keyboard using a Texture Analyser

Testing keyboard actuation force

When performing an objective test on a keyboard, the main components under investigation are the switches, actuated by pressing keys.

From keyboard to keyboard, there is little a given manufacturer can do to affect a switch's performance. The switches come in batches from switch makers, and keyboard manufacturers mount them onto printed circuit boards and do not have the ability to alter them. Seth Colaner at Tom’s Hardware has developed a procedure for testing mechanical keyboard switches using a TA.XTplus Texture Analyser.

Previous attempts at testing switch performance has involved the use of small weights, but this is not an accurate technique. Maintaining the balance of multiple weights placed on top of keys with varying geometry affects the measurement as it is easy for weights to move off-centre. Additionally, the forces required to actuate a switch can be very small (on the order of 50g), so the way even small weights are placed can fluctuate the actual load and throw off the measurement.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Viscoelasticity in the Materials Industry

Testing springiness of a mattress
Many industrial materials have viscoelastic properties depending on their constituents, processing conditions and the conditions during use.

They can be very obviously viscoelastic when held in the hands, or this behaviour may not be apparent until heated up to 1000°C and put under a large stress. The relaxation time also varies a large amount. Whether this viscoelasticity is beneficial or not depends on the material’s type and intended use.

Memory foam mattresses are becoming very popular due to their ability to mould to the shape of the sleeper’s body, relieving pressure on painful joints. They have a layer of temperature-dependent viscoelastic material - when a load is applied (a person), the material relaxes away to take on the load’s shape. They then show slow springback when the load is removed.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Viscoelasticity in the Pharmaceutical and Cosmetics Industries

Looking through a gel capsule
Many pharmaceutical and cosmetic products have viscoelastic properties that can be measured using a Texture Analyser.

Pharmaceutical tablets show viscoelastic stress-strain behaviour when the powder compact is being loaded and unloaded, and this behaviour continues once the load has been fully removed. This can cause problems for tablet manufacturers such as capping, when either the upper or lower part of the tablet separates from the main body when ejected from the press or during the handling process. 

Viscoelastic properties are functions of the compression conditions as well as the formulation. It is important to investigate every instance of capping to ensure the problem is not repeated (which is very costly) and to measure the viscoelastic properties of new formulations before they reach the mass manufacturing stage. 

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Viscoelasticity in the Food Industry

Stretchy cheese finger
The vast majority of food materials show a combination of viscous and elastic behaviour although many show much more of one than the other.

There are some exceptions – hard crackers are generally completely elastic, whereas oil and runny honey usually show no elastic behaviour. Viscoelastic testing is best used as a comparative measure as many food products have an unusual geometry, so conventional viscoelastic equations cannot be used to find fundamental parameters.

If a cracker is not completely elastic when bitten, it may have become stale. The degree of viscous behaviour can be measured to study this effect. A sample so brittle is not easily clamped without fracturing, so tensile testing is not an option, but equally it is not a suitable shape for compression. 

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Measuring Viscoelasticity using a Texture Analyser

Playing with 'slime'
What is viscoelasticity?
When a force is applied to a material, it causes the material to deform. This deformation can take one of two extremes – pure elastic deformation (e.g. a spring) or pure viscous flow (e.g. oil). 

The force causes the elastic material to instantly deform by a set amount, and the viscous material to flow for the whole time the force is applied. When the force is removed, the elastic material instantly returns to its original state, whereas the viscous material does not recover at all.

Elastic behaviour is usually caused by the bonds stretching between atoms (which is instant). Viscosity is caused by atoms or molecules moving past each other, which takes time but is also not easily reversed, unlike elasticity.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Texture Analysis in Action 2: Powder Vertical Shear Rig

Anyone who has handled powders has almost certainly come across a clogged hopper, and will know that this is caused by caking, arching or rat-holing. 

To measure the tendency of a powder to show these properties, the main property to consider is the powder’s bulk resistance to the initiation of flow. 

This helps to imitate the consolidation that occurs under the powder’s own weight when the outlet is shut and the feeder is switched off. It is when the outlet is opened and the feeder started again that the blockages can build up.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Texture Analysis in Action 2: Indexable Powder Compaction Rigs

Indexable Powder Compaction Rig (50kg)
Indexable Powder Compaction Rig (A/IPC0.5)
Many years ago we introduced two variants of Powder Compaction Rig (high tolerance and low tolerance) suited to high force applications. 

However, there is a need for powder compaction testing of similar sample volumes at lower compaction forces than the existing methods that require a TA.HDplus Texture Analyser. 

As such, we have developed two low force powder compaction fixtures – offering a choice of volumes for 10 samples – to provide indexable testing up to 50kg.f and to increase  useability and efficiency.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Texture Analysis in Action 2: Indexable Film Support Rig

Film Support Rig
Film Support Rig
The Film Support Rig is used in conjunction with the TA.XTplus texture analyser to measure the burst strength and resilience of a variety of personal care and pharmaceutical products.

These include oral hygiene strips, plasters, bandages, polymer film, micropore tape, synthetic skin and latex, amongst other ‘Edible Film’ applications finding their way into the food industry.

Many pharmaceutical products, particularly plasters and bandages, are designed to be extremely thin, increasing comfort and ease of storage or use. Other films are designed to dissolve on the tongue.

Texture Analysis in Action 2: Unconfined Yield Stress Rig

Stable Micro Systems have launched the Unconfined Yield Stress Rig for the measurement of powder flowability.

In industries that handle powders on a regular basis it is very important to understand how a powder or granular material responds to pressure. In storage, the weight of powder in a container exerts pressure on the particles at the bottom.

If the powder has good flow behaviour it will not consolidate and will flow out of the silo or hopper without sticking – this is very desirable. The longer a powder is stored for, the more likely it is to form a cake in its hopper and refuse to flow without further assistance.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Texture Analysis in Action 2: Nail Polish Adhesion Rig

Nail Polish Adhesion Rig
The Nail Polish Adhesion Rig and method have been developed by Stable Micro Systems to provide the solution to this assessment requirement. 

During the polish drying time test, a channel 20cm long is filled with polish to a depth of 0.5 mm and wiped level using a glass rod. 

At this point a timer within the Exponent software test sequence is started. This depth is representative of a typical coat of polish on a fingernail; a depth of 0.5mm dries to approximately 0.2mm. This channel is seated on top of the Adhesive Indexing System that has ten detents and so ten test sites are available by simply sliding the platform along. 

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Texture Analysis in Action 2: Ring Pull Rig

Ring Pull Rig
The Ring Pull Rig was developed to allow manufacturers of food tins and beverage cans to measure the force needed to lift the ring pull and open the container. 

This relatively new development could signal the end of consumer frustration with trying to open metal packaging that is too stiff, or where the ring pull detaches from the lid. 

Understanding and quantifying the force needed to use a ring pull is vital for both packaging manufacturers and their customers to ensure safety, functionality and consumer experience.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Texture Analysis in Action: Safety Screen

Texture Analyser Safety Screen
For the only Texture Analyser with safety in mind.

A protective screen is sometimes a necessary accessory to protect the operator in the event of sample fragments leaving the test area during a test. 

A Safety Screen is now available for operator protection from such fragments or violent failures of specimens such as hard and brittle materials that may shatter or create projectiles upon failure. In addition, there are instruments used by multiple and/or unskilled operators that may prefer the installation of such a screen for an extra degree of operator safety. 

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Texture Analysis in Action 2: Triple Ring Cutting System

Triple Ring Cutting System
There is a range of food products which consist of small, irregular and non-uniform particulate pieces which are solid but are predominantly consumed or handled in bulk, e.g. meringues, popcorn, nut clusters, noodles.  

This range also covers very hard and brittle variable structures which fracture easily when deformed, e.g. cut, snapped, penetrated or compressed. 

The primary issue of these types of samples is that because they are usually of varying sizes or are of non-homogeneous nature comparisons are difficult. They have a high variability from piece to piece within the same batch and require a sample set to be tested.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Texture Analysis in Action: Probe Converters & Adapters

Quick twist probe converter
Quick twist probe converter
For texture analyser users who are looking for ways to increase their sample testing throughput and improve the convenience of probe attachment to their texture analyser, we have two innovative options.  

Users can now choose to have a converter fitted to their probes to allow for quick removal and replacement between tests. 

Either ‘magnetic’ or ‘quick-twist’ probe converters are available, in batches of 5. These quick probe removal and replacement options are the first of their kind in texture analysis and support the requirement for test procedures that have efficiency and/or convenience in mind. 

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Texture Analysis in Action 2: The Asian Noodle Rig

Extensive work has been carried out at the Wheat Marketing Center in Oregon, USA, by Gary Hou and his team.  

They use a particular type of perspex blade on their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to measure noodle firmness; this has now become internationally popular and therefore has been included in the Stable Micro Systems probe and fixture range.

The rig can be seen in use here in a video of Noodle firmness testing...

It presents the method for noodle sample preparation of dry and cooked noodles and its testing using the TA.XT2/TA.XTplus Texture Analyser. This method is currently under consideration by the Asian Product Technical Committee of AACC International.  

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

The Effect of Storage on Food Texture

Full pantry cupboard
The effect of storage on the textural properties of foodstuffs is very diverse and varies with the product type and storage conditions.

Shelf-life studies are often used to test the emulsion stability of salad dressing and the staling properties of baked goods, as well as the integrity of packaging films, to cite a few examples. For some products, such as meat, controlled storage has a beneficial (tenderising) effect. For others, such as fruit that is picked mature but unripe, storage develops proper (softer) texture followed by its deterioration.

For still others, storage is always detrimental, but the rate of deterioration varies from very rapid (e.g. bread) to very slow (e.g. butter). With ripened cheeses, storage is part of processing that develops proper flavour and texture.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

An Indian Banquet with Perfect Texture

Indian food is rich, creamy and spicy, with comforting sauces and side dishes of interesting and varied texture.

A consumer acts almost like a Texture Analyser while they are eating a meal. They are constantly sensing force and breaking points with their hands while they tear food and even more so inside their mouths while they bite, crunch and chew. To ensure they have a satisfying experience, it is important to make sure these forces are all at the optimum level.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Global Baking Ingredients Market to Grow – get ready to perfect your texture

Bakery productionAccording to, analysts forecast the Global Baking Ingredients Market to Grow at 5.68% CAGR during the Period 2017-2021.

With growth potential comes the need to secure the quality of your product to ensure that customers will continue to purchase your products over your competitors. If you don’t have any quantitative quality control in place already perhaps it’s time to understand how it would work for you.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

A Chinese Meal with Texture Fit for an Emperor

Chinese mealChinese food is very varied in terms of texture, colour and flavour, ranging from sweet and sticky dishes to crispy, chewy and very spicy, with golden noodles and vibrant sauces.

Stable Micro Systems can provide a wide range of testing solutions for measuring the texture of every component of a Chinese meal.

A spring roll may be delivered to the table first as a delicious starter, followed by a course of aromatic crispy duck with pancakes, hoisin sauce, cucumber and spring onions. 

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Talking texture: The importance of a common language

Chefs in kitchen
Designing a food product will at some stage require a description of the desirable attributes of the finished product. 

When it comes to a taste panel consumers might include words such as gloopy, mushy or thickness but a company developing a new product needs to know exactly what consumers mean by those terms in order to target particular characteristics.

Establishing a common language to describe textural terms is vital to product development. Product developers need to decide upon the exact meaning of words that are used to describe their products (such as creamy, brittle, resilient).  

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Perfecting the Texture of an Italian Meal

Italian food is well known for its beautiful splashes of colour from basil, tomatoes and saffron, and delivering fresh flavours.

It is also very satisfying in terms of its texture; there is a wide range of textures ranging from delicately soft and creamy to crunchy, crispy and stretchy. A manufacturer of Italian food may perform many different quality control tests on their products to ensure textures are consistent and within acceptable ranges that may have been determined by sensory panels or customer feedback.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Physical Properties of Wet Pet Food

There are obvious differences between the processes of quality control in the human and pet food industries, the main one being the lack of feedback from the pet sensory panel. 

However, quick rejection of undesirable food provides enough motivation for pet owners and pet food manufacturers alike to provide animals with the correct food.

Wet foods make up the majority of products sold in pet shops, consisting of meat and liver with a range of other ingredients. The textures are solid, puréed, shredded, cuts, cubes and blends of human food ingredients. These are much more palatable than dry foods to most cats and dogs - neither dogs nor cats are drawn to sticky foods but both show a preference for wet food rather than dry.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Physical Properties of Dry Pet Food

Dry pet food makes up a large share of the ever expanding pet care market, and manufacturers are keeping up with this trend by sinking more of their R&D budget into quality control and physical testing.

For a manufacturer to turn a profit, safe products that pet owners want to buy must be made and sold at a price they are willing to pay. Pet food production must be cost-effective, sustainable, meet food safety requirements and produce appetising, nutritious products for owners to feed their pets. 

High levels of physical quality are important down through the whole supply chain – manufacturer, retailer, pet owner and pet all benefit from careful texture analysis. Texture analysis is important for process control, quality control and product development as well as process efficiency (reducing extruder power consumption).