Novel technologies add flavor to food safety and quality testing Listen with ReadSpeaker Our expertise

Novel technologies add flavor to food safety and quality testing

These days with consumers paying more attention to personal well-being, businesses such as test laboratories, hospitality industry and healthcare service providers, need to continuously improve on hygiene standards in their daily operations.

With food manufacturers constantly looking to improve product quality, optimize manufacturing processes and meet safety standards, it is not surprising that BIS Research expects the global food safety testing market to reach USD 17.7 billion by 2021.

The research also showed that Asia, led by China and India, are witnessing a massive growth in the food safety testing market. This growth is largely propelled by the growing urban population, enlarged awareness among consumers about the use of safe food products, heightened sense for protecting the environment and increasing disposable incomes.

Adding to this, governments and regulatory agencies are also demanding for more robust, cost-effective and reliable food safety testing frameworks to counter frequent mishaps occurring across the supply chain. As such manufacturers are mandated by law in most countries in Asia to conduct food safety assurance checks regularly.

In the face of increasing foodborne illness outbreaks, more stringent food safety regulations and the globalization of our food supply, food testing has become even more important for the food industry. Among the testing on food safety includes for the following: genetically modified food, meat speciation, food authenticity, pesticide residue, food pathogen, mycotoxin, food allergen, water testing and water quality analysis.

During a recent visit to an equipment manufacturer’s facility, I had the privilege of watching an innovative food testing procedure in action and went away completely sold by the technology’s capabilities.

Non-destructive quality evaluation of agricultural and food products has become a major area of interest for the agricultural and food processing industry. One method that is swiftly picking up pace among F&B manufacturers is the use of micro-computed tomography (micro-CT).

Micro-CT is basically x-ray imaging in 3D; think of it as 3D microscopy where the internal structure of objects is imaged through a non-destructive and non-invasive technique. Using x-rays, a series of radiographs of a sample is recorded from various angles and then used to reconstruct the internal 3D microstructure by means of a suitable reconstruction algorithm.

With Micro-CT technology, there is no need for sample preparation, staining or thin slicing. A single scan will image your sample's complete internal 3D structure at high resolution and allows food to be easily reconstructed and visualized.

The use of Micro-CT in food science and technology is on the rise. Here are some examples of how this technology can be applied in various types of food products:

  • Dairy products: quantitative determination of eye formation in cheese, fat microstructure (yogurt), microstructure of loose-packed and compacted milk powders
  • Meat: quantification of salt concentrations (cured pork), prediction of salt and water content (dry cured hams), intramuscular fat level and distribution (processed meat)
  • Bakery products: pore structure of bread crumbs, bubble growth and foam setting during bread making, structural parameters and starch crystallization (cake)
  • Fruits and vegetables: detect water core disorder and characterization of browning disorder (apples), quantification and characterization of internal structure (pomegranate), determining maturity (tomatoes)

Detectors that are based on biomolecules are also becoming increasingly popular, underlined by the widely used biosensor tool, the glucose meter. A biosensor is defined as an analytical device that combines a biological component with a physicochemical detector. They are generally used to detect chemical or biochemical compounds.

This method is used by the food industry to assess product safety like microbial contaminants, pesticides and toxins and to monitor product quality by detecting specific food components. An example of a biosensor determining the quality of a food is the glutamate sensor: glutamate enhances flavor and is found in natural products but is added particularly to highly processed food products.

With various test method options available, you will have to ascertain which would work best for your business. Among your selection criteria include speed or turnaround time, accuracy, ease-of-use, sample number and type, and obviously total cost of adopting the technology.

Considering the complexity of the technology involved and the anticipated steep learning curve required from your internal resources in adopting the chosen technology, you could also consider working with an experienced business partner who will be able to deliver the right tools for your specific business needs.

As DKSH’s demonstration laboratory in Singapore is equipped with the latest Micro-CT technology, you could also drop by to see for yourself how this technology works or arrange for some sample testing for your business needs. 

Micro-CT’s application is not limited to the food industry; it is also proven to be an effective and beneficial tool for other industry applications such as pharmaceutical, polymers and other industrial materials. You will be able to find out more from the experts at the demo lab how your business can benefit from the technology.

As the global demand for food continues to rise, there is a clear trend towards using new and innovative ways to approach food safety testing. How well you do it could be the key success factor for your business. Share your thoughts on what other food testing techniques could be beneficial to your business.


Marco Farina

About the author

Marco Farina joined DKSH in February 2016 as General Manager, Business Line Scientific Instrumentation, Business Unit Technology. He oversees global business development and has spent the last ten years developing and growing business in different emerging markets in Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia. He now lives in Bangkok with his wife and two kids.