The importance of food as a vital necessity is an unquestionable fact known to all. While it is essential to understand this truth, it is also necessary to know how we eat, i.e., the quality of our food, mainly because of the excellent relationship that food has shown to have with health.
Food is not a static compound, but a dynamic one, and consequently, food sciences must study the composition of food and the effects that its components cause in the course of the different processes to which food is subject, investigating and discovering the connections that exist between the structure of the other compounds and their organoleptic properties, as well as their capacity for deterioration according to their chemical composition.
Food analysis is the perfect tool to avoid infections and food poisoning, which are of great concern to the businessman and can have such dire consequences, so it is essential that if you are dedicated to this industry, the analysis is made by experienced laboratories with the latest technology equipment to meet the requirements of the law if you do not have this infrastructure you can always outsource your food testing. With this type of analysis, you can guarantee the best quality controls to the food industry’s products.
To carry out this type of control, food testing laboratories must take samples, investigate from surfaces, handlers, raw materials, and finished products, then transfer them to the laboratory for analysis.
The characterization of food comes from the results of the different tests to which they can be subjected using other evaluation methods, which can be grouped according to the objectives they pursue and the principles on which they are based.
Depending on the requirement of the company in its products and the demand of the consumer to whom the food is addressed, the most common analytical techniques are:
Organoleptic analysis: It is a qualitative assessment of the food, based exclusively on the senses’ use, including factors such as appearance, color, smell, taste, and texture.
Physicochemical analysis to obtain quantitative data present in the food related to the product’s composition and nutritional value. Parameters of its chemical components, such as pH, water activity, humidity, etc., are vital for developing microorganisms in food.
Microbiological analysis through which food harmful infections can be studied, i.e., the presence of microorganisms detrimental to health, is checked. Regulation on microbiological criteria for foodstuffs establishes the microbial standards for certain organisms and the application rules that food business operators must comply with when applying general and specific hygiene measures, depending on the type of food handled in their industry. This regulation differentiates between food safety criteria (product marketed during its shelf life) and process hygiene criteria (improvement in production hygiene).
Shelf-life study: This type of analysis’s main objective is to determine the time in which a product can be maintained without suffering any significant change in its quality and safety. Several factors are studied to know the state of the product over time:
- Properties and composition of the food
- Processes to which it is subjected
- Format and packaging in which it is marketed.
- Storage conditions
Nutritional study: the nutritional composition of the food is analyzed (fats, proteins, salt, sugars, energy values, etc.). The law on the consumer’s information obliges food industries to provide a label with their products’ composition. Consumer demand considers both the nutritional value of the product and substances that may cause allergies and food intolerances.
Another type of analysis is toxins of biological origin (mycotoxins, botulinum toxins, fungal toxins, etc.) or chemical toxins (mercury, lead, heavy metals).
Finally, another joint analysis in food industries is that of pesticide residues. These pesticides can come from environmental contamination; there may be residues in food samples that have never been part of the manufacturing process.
As you will see, food analysis must be performed by highly trained people, the consequences of not doing so can be very harmful, so to make sure of that.