Moisture analysis options for snack food manufacturing
Moisture analysis plays a critical role throughout the snack food manufacturing process, from verifying incoming dry ingredients, to final product release. Moisture levels are not only critical to shelf life and flavor of the final product, but can also dramatically affect processing and extrusion characteristics.
Traditionally, moisture analysis has been performed using an air-oven method, which typically takes hours to perform, making it longer than the mix cycle of most dough-state extruded snacks. Because of the short mixing period of snack food doughs, true at-line process control has historically been nearly impossible. For this reason, direct moisture testing is typically only performed on final product as a quality control measure. Various rapid, indirect techniques (NIR, FT-IR) have been introduced, but are limited in the types of products that can be tested, and require expensive calibrations for each sample type.
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