Food Testing Equipment

The Many Applications for Food Testing Equipment

In keeping an eye on the quality of the innumerable items that we eat and drink, food testing equipment is required to monitor far more aspects of their composition than the average consumers are aware of. For those involved in the growing, processing and storage of foodstuffs, however, though the extent of their responsibilities may be clear, the task can be a daunting one.

With the development of new technology, the numerous advances in this field in recent decades have served to speed up many of these analytical procedures and to increase their sensitivity as well as simplifying them considerably in many cases. However, the flip side of these advances has been the discovery of even more contaminants and trace substances in edibles that may have adverse effects on those who consume them.

In times past, the prime concern of quality controllers would have been bacterial contaminants and food testing equipment limited to items such as petri dishes, incubators, glass slides and microscopes in their efforts to exclude the presence of organisms such as Salmonella and Coliform bacilli in products and Brucella or Mycobacterium in livestock. The bacterial content of consumables remains a concern and more recent research has identified additional organisms for which the staff of public health and quality control laboratories now needs to check. To these we must now include a list of trace substances such as heavy metals and pesticides as well as a list of potential allergens that seems to grow longer by the week,

In order to meet these new and far more extensive demands as well as to cope with the escalating need for increased production, the manufacturers of food testing equipment have needed to respond with new solutions that leverage advanced analytical principles in a user-friendly manner. The result is a shorter learning curve for the lab technician, greater sensitivity and increased throughput all of which results in the improved quality assurance that is so important to the health and safety of the consumer.

The precise requirements vary considerably within the industry and are governed by the nature of the consumables handled which tends to determine the scope of the analyses that will be most likely. Also, variations in the consistency of the material to be tested, such as that between solid foodstuffs and beverages or between essentially aqueous preparations like wine and the more viscous cooking oils may create a need for differing units.

While many of the applications for food testing equipment are aimed at ensuring that the concentrations of any potentially harmful components that may be present in a given product are within the internationally acceptable limits, legislation in most countries has also made it a requirement to assay their nutrient content such as saturated and unsaturated fats, carbohydrates, proteins, essential minerals and vitamins and to display the results on the label.

To ensure the quality of edibles and to determine their composition with the accuracy required, it is equally important to ensure the quality of all the instrumentation and reagents that will be used to test them. Sourcing and, where necessary, importing such items has been our business at IEPSA throughout the close to 35 years that we have been serving South Africa’s needs. Though, at first, our sole focus was medical diagnostics, the supply of advanced food testing equipment and the related consumables have since become an equally important facet of our operation.

Most of the highly sophisticated analytical units that we supply are designed to work with very small samples and are sufficiently sensitive to detect and measure a number of substances at extremely low concentrations. Speed and simplicity are the essence of the instrumentation in the ‘FoodLab’ line from the Italian manufacturer, CDR Systems. The range includes units to measure properties such as free fatty acid and polyphenol content, peroxide value, stability index and Anisidine value in various oils; for the analysis of wines and must and for the determination of urea nitrogen in dairy products such as milk.
For the rapid and accurate detection and assay of a huge range of potential allergens, we source some of the most advanced test kits available in the world today from an acknowledged leader in this specialised field – the US manufacturer, Neogen.

Ensuring the health of its consumers is the most vital requirement of the food industry. Such assurance is only guaranteed by efficient quality control measures implemented with the advances instrumentation in our world-class food testing equipment range.

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