Article about food safety from around the world and in our own back yard.

Importance of Food Product Testing

Importance of Food Product Testing

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.

food testing laboratory

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.

Is Food Dye Safe?

Is Food Dye Safe?

One of the most controversial hot buttons in the food industry: “Is food dye safe?”

The use of food dye has been documented in reports dating back to the mid-1800s. The use of artificial food dyes is reported to have increased by 500% in the last 50 years, according to Healthline.

Children are the largest consumers of food dyes, due to the extensive use in soft drinks, candies, snacks, ice cream, and baked goods—all of which happen to be childhood favourites.

Food dye is available in both artificial or natural forms:

  • Natural food dye is safe to eat and is derived from plants, and sometimes even insects.
  • Artificial food dye is made from petroleum products. It is cheap to mass produce, and many colours can be made, unlike in natural food colouring, where you are limited to the colours available in nature.

So, to answer the controversial question, “Is Food Dye Safe?”, we must answer a few other common questions:

  • Is Food Colouring Bad for Your Health?A lot of research has been done to answer the perennial question,“Is food dye safe?”Natural food dye is safe and can be used repeatedly; there is no controversy there. The problem arises with artificial food colouring. Although the FDA and EFSA have both concluded that dyes do not pose significant health risk, some people are of a different school of thought.

Studies have been conducted to identify if food dyes are safe—and, more specifically, whether they can cause cancer. The research done has not yet provided conclusive evidence that food dyes can cause cancer in humans; Red 3 is the only food dye that was shown to increase thyroid tumours in rats.

Further research on Erythrosine (component in Red3) later concluded that it doesn’t cause cancer, but Red 3 is still not extensively used. Some dyes have been shown to contain cancer causing contaminants or carcinogens, but in very small quantities that are considered safe

There are only six food dyes that are approved by both the FDA and EFSA. Some food dyes are approved in some countries and banned in others, causing a lot of controversy on whether or not they are safe.

However, part of the answer to “Is food dye safe?” is that consuming a lot of artificial food dye containing contaminants can cause health risks; some artificial food dyes have been shown to cause allergic reactions.

  • Is Food Colouring Safe to Drink?When taken in safe doses, food colouring is safe to drink. It is used in many soft drinks, juices, and sport drinks.
  • Does Red Dye Affect Children’s Behaviour?The first claim that food dyes cause behavioural changes in children was made in 1973 by a paediatrician. His claim was that food dyes and preservatives cause hyperactivity and learning problems in children. Many studies have been done to validate these claims. An analysis of 15 of these studies done in 2004 concluded that food dyes can cause hyperactivity in children. However, not all children react the same way.

So…is food dye safe? The bottom line is that food dyes are safe for most people, and with the regulatory bodies conducting ongoing tests and continuously studying the different dyes, they remain safe for use.