Campden & Chorleywood Food Research Association - Articles and news items
Near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy is widely used in the global agri-food industry for the non-destructive assessment of both the compositional and physical characteristics of a wide range of raw materials and finished products. This is particularly so in the cereals and related industries where, following the commercial development of suitable NIR instrumentation in the 1970s, the technique rapidly became the main means of determining a range of compositional properties which form the basis of trading operations worldwide.
Foodborne botulism is a severe illness that is caused by the consumption of foods containing a neurotoxin produced by a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum. Very little of this toxin is required to cause illness; for example, in 2002, a 35 year old man put a piece of baked potato in his mouth and then spat it out again as it tasted bad. He ingested enough toxin to put him in hospital for six and a half months4.
Issue 3 2007 • 4 September 2007 • Dr. Sam Millar, Campden & Chorleywood Food Research Association
Near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy offers users a rapid, non-destructive means of assessing a range of different food ingredients and finished products. Since its commercial development as a technique in the 1970s, it has been widely applied in a number of food sectors, particularly those related to cereal products. As instrumentation and data analysis techniques have developed, new approaches for the use of NIR have been generated through which its wider adoption within the food industry is ongoing. In addition to the work on NIR at CCFRA in the established areas of cereal compositional analysis, recent projects have also demonstrated a number of new approaches. Within these, the technique has been applied to other food matrices as well as to problems of a more complex nature for food materials derived from cereals.
The colour and appearance of baked products are important quality attributes. Printed images of products are often displayed in production areas to illustrate the required appearance, but frequently provide a poor match to the actual product colour.Calibrated imaging methods are now available that enable accurate, consistent images to be taken for product specification and documentation purposes and to be displayed accurately for comparison with production samples. The methods are widely used in the reprographics and textile industries for electronic communication of appearance and have great potential for specification and quality control of appearance throughout the food industry.
Quality indicator (QI) tests represent the large majority of routine tests currently performed by food microbiology laboratories. Although not necessarily pathogenic, indicator organisms, such as Total Plate Count, coliforms, Escherichia coli, Enterobacteriaceae, yeasts and moulds can alter the appearance and taste of a product when present in large quantities. The enumeration of the microbial flora present indicates the microbiological quality of the raw materials and the finished product, as well as ensuring in-process control. QI tests are therefore of major importance in establishing a consistent level of hygiene during food production and a good quality product.
Chocolate is widely appreciated globally as a luxury food. Although its introduction to Europe and the rest of the world occurred some 500 years ago, the cocoa bean had been recognised as a highly significant plant in South America for thousands of years prior to that – having been cultivated by the Aztecs.
So prized was their drink (chocolatl, derived from the bean) that it was referred to as ‘the food of the gods’ in their mythology. In turn, this was clearly an influence many years later when the genus, of which the cacao species is a part, was named Theobroma – a derivation of the Greek words for God (Theos) and food (broma) (Russell Cook, 1963).
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