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Food analyses - All you need to know
All food should be safe to eat whether in restaurants or grocery stores. We all expect that there shouldn’t be any ...
All food should be safe to eat whether in restaurants or grocery stores. We all expect that there shouldn’t be any harmful pathogens or dangerous levels of microorganisms in food and raw materials and that the food is always the same texture and consistency. Food analysis confirms that all food is safe and of high quality before it reaches customers.
Let’s go through the most common questions for food businesses regarding food analyses.
Why is food testing important?
Food analyses as analytical procedures are provided only by accredited laboratories, to provide information about a wide variety of different characteristics of food – including composition, structure, physicochemical properties, and sensory attributes.
All of this information is important to determine, because:
1. To ensure food safety
Ensuring that produced food is safe for both customers and manufacturers, is the most important part of food analysis. Can you imagine that the food you bought from a store or a restaurant, is toxic or harmful for you or can cause a foodborne illness?
Food is unsafe for the customers when it contains:
- harmful microorganisms (e.g., Listeria, Salmonella)
- toxic chemicals (e.g., pesticides, herbicides)
- extraneous matter (e.g., glass, wood, metal, insect matter)
Food manufacturers have to do everything possible to protect consumers from these threats. For that, it is highly important to develop a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point plan (HACCP plan) where you need to identify the processes that may cause problems (hazard analysis), assign critical control points, and determine corrective action when a problem is identified. The developed HACCP plan needs to be introduced to all of your team members periodically.
2. To ensure the food is according to regulations and standards
Governmental regulations are designed to maintain food quality thorough the whole supply chain. Also, they help to ensure the food manufacturing industry provides consumers with foods that are wholesome and safe and informs consumers about the correct quality information.
Local governmental institutions have worked out a number of voluntary and mandatory standards concerning the composition, quality, inspection, and labeling of specific food products when performing food analysis.
3. Quality control
It’s well-known that the food industry is a highly competitive sector, where product development plays an important role in profit and market-sharing. Everybody wants their products to be the most delicious, desirable, highest quality, and least expensive. At the same time, products need to be safe, nutritious and to meet all food safety standards. Keep in mind that all of the final products consistently need to have the same properties, i.e. appearance, texture, flavor, and shelf life.
To ensure that food manufacturers take their business seriously, they:
- Analyze the raw materials they use when preparing their products and when standards are not met the manufacturer rejects the material.
- Monitor food properties during processing. This helps to improve the overall quality of food and produce less waste
- Characterize and analyze the final product.
4. Research and development of the food industry
During recent years, significant changes have been made regarding the preferences of consumers for foods that are healthier, higher quality, and lower cost. Food businesses must respond rapidly to these changes in order to remain competitive within the food industry.
Who needs to do food analyses?
Food manufacturers and government laboratories routinely complete food testing to ensure that they do not contain harmful substances and that the production facility is operating according to their HACCP plan. All food analysis must always be performed by an accredited laboratory where scientists and specialists work.
What are the most common food analyses?
As there are a number of different analyses and techniques available, it’s necessary to select the most appropriate one. The analysis selected depends on the property to be measured, the type of food to be analyzed, and the reason for carrying out the analysis. The most common way to find out is to contact a local food safety expert who will give recommendations or use a HACCP building software that gives suggestions according to your company’s profile.
Here are the most common food analyses:
As water is the main ingredient in the product you are manufacturing and is also used when washing dishes, it can be a potential source of microbiological and chemical hazards. That’s why it’s crucially important to analyze your water before you start with your food business and regularly after a concrete time period.
Accurate nutritional analysis is essential to ensure you comply with labeling regulations and retailer specifications. The reason is that consumers can make informed choices about their diet. Allergens in food products and beverages are a serious and increasing concern. Nutritional labels state the total calorific value of the food, as well as total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrate, dietary fiber, sugars, protein, vitamins, calcium, iron, etc.
Understanding nutritional content is also an intrinsic part of new product development and quality control.
It’s important to test the authenticity of certain food components to ensure that consumers are not the victims of economic fraud and that competition among food manufacturers is fair.
This is done against potentially harmful food-borne micro-organisms, including pathogens like; Campylobacter (a food-borne pathogen and is a major cause of food poisoning), Salmonella, E.coli, and Listeria, along with spoilage organisms such as yeasts and molds.
Food allergen testing
The accurate and reliable detection of allergens ensures the safety and quality of your products and processes, verifies food properties for labeling to avoid product recalls, and ultimately protects your brand image.
The most common allergens that are tested:
Cereals containing gluten
Crustaceans like prawns or crab
Peanuts and other nuts including almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts.
Sulfur dioxide and sulfites are used as preservatives in food products like sausages and dried fruits.
Food manufacturers need to determine the use by or best before dates for all of their products to meet governmental regulations and to keep their consumers safe. By performing shelf life analyses, you can define accurate dates for your products, ensuring that the quality remains acceptable. Accurate and reliable shelf-life testing reduces the risk of product recalls and helps to improve your products together with increasing profitability.
Product physical testing
Physical properties of food to be checked are aspects such as colour, structure, texture, rheology and interfacial properties, and composition.
What documents do I need?
Let’s face it, the local authorities' visit can break your business. Your HACCP plan together with food testing documents needs to be ready for the audit at any time. Correct analyses that are done on time, are one of the first signs to authorities that your facility takes food safety and inspection seriously.
Food testing important documents include:
1. Food analyses is an important chapter of your HACCP plan of prerequisite program chapter.
2. Food analyses documents with correct results.
Not sure where to start with your food analyses? Don't have enough time and know-how? FoodDocs platform can direct you through the HACCP process and get your food testing documents done in no time, so you can focus on what you really need to – managing your business.