What would happen if we didn’t have regulated food testing in place?
Though it may be the last process of the food manufacturing chain, food product testing is the most important step, because it determines the safety of the food for use.
Food product testing is vitally necessary, to ensure that the food is free of physical, chemical and biological hazards. Examples of potential hazardous food contaminants include metals, e-coli bacteria, salmonella, cleaning agents, additives, preservatives, pesticides, and more.
What is food testing?
Food product testing is the scientific analysis of food and its contents. It is done to provide information about various characteristics of food, including the structure, composition, and physicochemical properties. Food product testing is also performed for other reasons:
- To test the quality of a product. This is done to verify claims made by the manufacturer of the product on certain issues; for instance, the ingredients used.
- For quality control. This is done before, during, and after the manufacturing process to analyze the quality of the food ingredients, and the finished product.
- Food inspection and grading are performed regularly to ensure food manufacturers meet the set laws and standards.
- Foods must have a standardized nutritional label; therefore food needs to be analyzed to verify the claims made.
- Research and development is necessary for manufacturers to improve and provide food high quality, healthy, and affordable food; this requires studying and analyzing the products already in the market.
- To protect a manufacturer from rumours and smears.You have probably seen many products in the market being labeled unhealthy by competitors or other rumour mongers; with food testing, such rumours can be sorted out.
How do you test food?
Food product testing can be done using several methods, all of which are highly advanced, to provide accurate information about the nutritional value and safety of the food. The most common methods of food product testing are:
- Analytical Chemistry Testing: Involves chemically separating and analyzing for the different components of the food product, including PH, additives, preservatives, colours, contaminants, and so on.
- Sensory Testing: This is the most basic method of testing, which involves using the human senses: sight, taste, touch, sound, and smell.
- Nutrition Analysis: Involves finding out the nutrition composition of food; the information gathered is used on the product’s label.
- Microbiology Testing: Involves analyzing for microorganisms that contaminate food. It is usually done on the raw materials, ingredients, and the final product.
How is food nutrient content determined?
Nutrition analysis is the process through which food nutrient content is determined, and is part of food product testing. This process analyzes the molecular structure of the food, identifying the components present and at what level of concentration.
This is what is used to generate the nutritional facts label that is mandatory on some products.
The nutritional facts label indicates things such as calories, carbohydrates, vitamins (like Vitamin A, E and C), proteins, sugar, and fibre, among others. This information is supposed to help consumers choose healthy foods, and avoid foods with ingredients they do not want to consume.
Food product testing to determine nutrient content is done using laboratory analysis, software, turnkey nutrition analysis, and online nutrition analysis. Lab analysis is the most preferred method.