Particle size analysis is important in many industries. Knowledge of particle size is important in the food industry because it affects the production, handling of ingredients, formulation, processing, and quality control of food and beverage products.
Particle size affects reactivity, solubility, the flowability of ingredients as well as the texture, mouthfeel and processing of products. Particle size analysis has been applied to a wide variety of ingredients and products including coffee, sugar, salt, flour, chocolate, milk powder, spices and flavors. Analytical techniques for measuring particle size range from traditional sieving and sedimentation to the use of modern automated imaging and laser-based instruments.
Chocolate taste and texture are what matters most to the consumer. For the manufacturer, product consistency, quality control and cost-efficient production are vital to maintaining brand reputation. Understanding, monitoring and controlling the particle size and particle shape in air or liquid are key factors in ensuring consistent, high-quality production of chocolate. The crystallinity of cocoa butter and sugar can be related to chocolate bloom and shelf life.
Analytical solutions for particle size, particle shape and crystallinity add value throughout the chocolate manufacturing process and are used to:
The particle size of coffee grounds greatly affects the flavor of brewed coffee. If the coffee grind is fine, then a powerful espresso-like flavor may be produced as many of the complex organic components within the coffee bean are released during brewing. If the coffee grind is coarse then a smoother flavor may be obtained for the final brew.
The traditional method for coffee particle size and size distribution measurement is sieving. However, sieve measurements are slow and do not correctly assess the percentage of fine material within the coffee grind, leading to variations in the brew strength. Laser diffraction particle size analysis is a rapid alternative to sieving. It provides:
The formulation of any flavor or color emulsion can be optimized by looking at the particle size and charge. This will influence its appearance (cloudiness) and its stability in final use.
The characterization of emulsion-based drinks formulations (cream liqueur, color emulsion, flavor emulsion) can be analyzed to understand, control and optimize:
Dry food ingredients come in many different forms but are normally either milled to final size or created to be a certain size via a process such as spray drying. Bread loaf volumes are affected by the size and shape of flour.
Material characterization of dry food ingredients enables:
Food additives can help preserve flavor, enhance taste and/or appearance and slow the onset of spoilage. Natural food additives have been used for centuries. Vinegar has been used in pickling; salt has been used to preserve bacon, sugar; honey has been used to preserve fruit and pastries; sulfur dioxide has been used in wine. Food additives play a role in our ability to ship, process and store food meeting the needs of current marketplace practices.
There are many different types of food additives, both natural and artificial. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that acts as a preservative by inhibiting the effects of oxygen on food and may also provide a health benefit.
Starch is a bulking agent that increases the bulk of a food without affecting its taste. Color additives and flavor additives each enhance the color and taste or smell of food respectively. Emulsifiers allow water and oils to remain mixed together in an emulsion, as in mayonnaise, ice cream and homogenized milk.
Preservatives prevent or inhibit the growth of fungi, bacteria and other microorganisms in food that would cause spoilage. Stabilizers, thickeners and gelling agents, like agar or pectin (used in jam) give foods a firmer texture. Sweeteners are added to foods for flavoring.
A range of particle size, zeta potential and imaging can be used to study these additives and their interaction with food products. Our application knowledge can be used to: