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Physical testing

  • Physical testing in the application of food primarily acts as an indicator of quality, but it can also be used for ensuring product consistency. Manufacturers can use this to verify product value, correlate a product with consumer perception and, in some cases, ensure food safety when the product must undergo a cooking step.  A large number of techniques are available for assessing different characteristics of food and drink products in terms of their structure, physicochemical properties and sensorial characteristics.

Five Common Physical Properties for Food Progressing:

Color plays a critical role in how people perceive food quality. To ensure accurate and consistent color spectrophotometers are used for color measurement and visual color evaluation.

Many food products exist in particulate form ranging from powders to emulsions, suspensions and pellets. The size distribution of the particulates can affect the taste, appearance, stability, processability, and functionality of the final product.

Evaluation of texture involves measuring the response of a food when it is subjected to a force, such as cutting, shearing, chewing, compressing, or stretching. Such tests are essential in the food industry, especially for routine quality control of food products. The acceptability of food products to the consumer is often determined by food texture, such as how spreadable and creamy a food product is.

Viscosity is the resistance to flow and it is assessed by measuring the force required to stir a defined rod in the product. As viscosity changes the flow properties of a liquid food and influences the appearance and the consistency of a product, this measuring variable is important in most production stages.

Quite often, the simplest physical tests are overlooked. Specifically, product weights, volumes and dimensions can be vital to product quality due to labeling regulations and label claims. Consumers and regulatory organizations expect the labeled weight and/or volume to accurately reflect what is in the package.