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PITTCON 2014

Food testing can tell the tale of taste

By Jenni Spinner+

10-Mar-2014

Technology from companies like Shimadzu can gauge taste, texture, and aroma of cake and other foods in the laboratory.
Technology from companies like Shimadzu can gauge taste, texture, and aroma of cake and other foods in the laboratory.

A representative from Shimadzu says food analysis can gauge a product's taste, aroma, and texture to predict its chances of success in stores.

Satushi Yamaki, application scientist with Shimadzu, told FoodProductionDaily in addition to testing food safety, analytical technology can be used to predict how an edible will be received by consumers. Laboratory equipment can gauge flavor, aroma, and other factors that impact perception of quality.

Texture testing

Yamaki said texture is an important attribute food scientists can analyze in the lab.

“This can refer to things such as how foods are composed, how they feel in the mouth, and more,” he said. “Texture affects how a food tastes to a great extent.”

Texture can take on many qualities, Yamaki added, including include hardness, adhesiveness, cohesiveness, brittlenesss, elasticity, gumminess, chewiness. All of these qualities impact how consumers react to a product, and how likely they are to respond with repeat purchase.

Taking the cake

According to Yamaki, Shimadzu staff recently performed compression tests on a commercial bakery’s chiffon cake. Analysis indicated the choice of oil (salad, sesame, and others) impacted the cake’s elasticity, and how its texture changed after one, two, or more days of baking.

Chiffon cake is expected to maintain its elasticity and softness after being baked,” Yamaki said. “If it doesn’t, that can make a big difference for the food company, and the consumer.”

Smell of success

Aroma is another important component of a food’s quality and flavor profile, Yamaki said.

A smell actually is two parts—the scent when smelled through the nose, and the scent that reaches the nose after escaping the mouth when it is being eaten,” he said. “In recent years, researchers have paid increasing attention in R&D to evaluating the flavors released during chewing.”

Shimadzu’s EZ Test gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GCMS) units can be used to test food for quality, taste, and aroma, Yamaki said. The machines lead to data that laboratory personnel use to predict flavor, and how it changes as a consumer is eating a product.

Flavor-release measurements can be made before and after each texture evaluation,” he said. “The amount and composition of flavors and aromas released by each ‘chew’ or series of chews can be compared.”

Yamaki spoke to FPD at Pittcon 2014, a conference and exhibition dedicated to analytical technology for food and beverage testing, materials analysis, and more. The event occurred March 2-6 in Chicago.

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