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Dispatches from Analytica 2014

Shimadzu: Flexibility vital to meeting customer demand

By Joe Whitworth+

16-Apr-2014
Last updated on 16-Apr-2014 at 11:33 GMT

Markus Ortlieb spoke to FQN at Analytica 2014
Markus Ortlieb spoke to FQN at Analytica 2014

Shimadzu said meeting customer demand for food safety and quality control depends on what they want to see or know from their samples.

The firm said there are high demands on quality control in food processing to meet taste expectations of the consumer, control of possible contaminants through environmental pollution or pesticide residues and hygiene requirements controlling water for beverages and food processing.

Markus Ortlieb said the firm offers a range of technologies in food safety and quality control depending on what the customer would like to see and would like to know from samples.

“So it starts in the testing area, for example if you want to know if your French fries are crispy or not so you can use test machines to check this,” he told FoodQualityNews.com at Analytica 2014 in Munich.

“Other people want to know if the colour of their food product is in the range that you want to see, so in this case you can use UV-spectrometers.

“If you think about a wine you could check the colour if you like, you could check the environmental analysis of the wine.

“You could use an Energy Dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometer but most of the time in this case you use atomic emission or inductively coupled plasma spectrometer and with these instruments you get the concentrations of sulphur in the wine.”

Migration issue

He said another issue was migration of potentially hazardous materials from packaging.

“So for example if you think of Jim Beam in a plastic bottle, the alcohol is a good solvent and the plastic bottle most of the time is made of PET and for the production of PET antimony is used, and due to the good solvent alcohol that is in the bottle it is possible that the antimony migrates from the bottle into the food product itself.”

The company offers instruments from liquid and gas chromatography, mass spectrometric detection, spectroscopic techniques (for elemental analysis and molecular spectroscopy), TOC (Total Organic Carbon) and balances.

Ortlieb said plastic is widely used but industry is looking at production methods to guarantee food quality.

“Plastics materials are recycled so you have a certain amount of old plastic material in the new product so you don’t really know what is inside of the old material which is now together with the new material and sometimes some things can affect the food product itself.”

Nanoparticles concern

Nanoparticles in food products in the EU were also an issue, he said.

“We have some instruments that are able to measure nanoparticles, starting from 0.5nm over 7nm up to 2,500 micro-metres.

“In the case of the food industry, nanoparticles are more and more used to change the surface of the food to make it look better or the package material itself.”

Ortlieb added that speed is not hugely important for nanoparticles in the food industry as it is just becoming an issue with people wanting to investigate any potential issue and find solutions but in the case of quality control of a food product, there is more of an emphasis on speed.