The MCT330 SF is a rugged heavy duty NIR Transmitter designed for high temperature and wash down environments. This Snack Food Analyzer measures moisture, fat/oil and product temperature. The operator interface supplies a large digital display, analog outputs and digital archiving to help meet Food Saftey Monitoring Requirements.
Food Industry studies have determined the most important elements of processed food degradation to include moisture, temperature, pH, preservatives and packaging. The Food Industry has developed control parameters to optimize production and packaging to protect their products and improve shelf life. Packaging techniques can include vacuum sealed, sealed with minimum air head space, and nitrogen purge. The best packaging of food products still requires that the product being packaged has been manufactured under optimum conditions that include the control of moisture and temperature.
Food moisture is critical in maintaining texture, shelf life and control of microbial growth. Near infrared (NIR) moisture transmitters supply reliable and accurate measurements on-line. Relative humidity at manufacturing plants varies during the day as heat builds up, and fluctuates with the season. The best way to insure moisture control is direct moisture measurement at each unit operation and prior to packaging.
Chips, crisps, curls, crackers and cereals (the five Cs) all require tight moisture specifications. A very low moisture leads to crumbling and to too crisp a bite. High moisture leads to that soggy bite at a humid picnic, and if too high, microbial growth leading to mold. Vitamin and additive sprays are often water based and can be controlled based on moisture measurement. Dryer, fryer, or baking exit moisture control is critical prior to packaging.
Oil based flavoring sprays can also be measured and controlled at the unit operation with NIR sensors. Fat and oil measurements are also important in monitoring hydrogenation reactions and enzymatic degradation. Too high an oil level can impart a bitter taste and butter level can impact both odor and flavor in undesirable ways. Even normal cereal undergoes fat oxidation.
Food product temperature and relative humidity during the manufacturing process and when packaged affect the moisture level of the delivered product and thereby the taste, crispness, and shelf life. Infrared thermometers and thermal imaging systems offer many options for temperature measurement.
Color measurement not only insures brand integrity, it is often a good indicator of important reactions impacting odor and flavor. Non-enzymatic browning (Maillard Reaction), lipid oxidation, caramelization of reducing sugars, and enzymatic degradation can impact food product color allowing a correlation between the color and the reaction to be a useful tool, especially in the baking and roasting processes.