Texture analysis – getting it right
By Jo Baker-Perrett - 16 October 2019
Crispy, crunchy, chewy, firm, soft – all appealing adjectives found on food packaging - but what’s the importance of measuring how crunchy or how firm a food is? The main reason is consumer acceptability, however, they’re also crucial factors for new product development and reformulation. Understanding how to measure texture can improve acceptance and therefore popularity of a product. But are you analysing your texture correctly?
What is texture analysis?
Texture analysis is a technique widely used across the food industry to objectively measure the physical properties of food products. It works on one very straightforward principle: a sample is either compressed, broken, deformed or even stretched and the force required to do this is measured. Simple right? However, it is this simplicity that can lead to problems when producing meaningful results and valuable interpretation. For example, your measurement may produce a chewiness value, but where does this come from? How is it calculated? And does it relate to what I think chewiness is? You can ask the same questions about cake fluffiness, how do we define it?
It is important to develop an understanding of what parameters you would like to analyse, how they relate to the sensory/quality attribute you are trying to replicate, how the software is calculating these parameters and if this is useful for what you are trying to achieve.
How to improve texture analysis
Understanding how the equipment and software relates to your products quality attributes is not the only thing that can help you develop your methodology to get the most out of texture analysis. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of different test methods can enable you to improve your measurements and manipulate them to produce bespoke results specific to your product. For example, for a biscuit, there is a multitude of different tests that can all give measurements of different quality attributes such as hardness, crunchiness, chewiness or even the ‘snap’ when broken in half.
Texture analysers are versatile and customisable which opens up a whole world of possibilities when developing a test to quickly and easily differentiate between samples with certain desirable quality attributes.
How can we help?
At Campden BRI we have the experience and expertise necessary to tackle texture issues in many food and drink products. We have even worked on non-food items where we’ve had appropriate methods and knowledge.
Whether you are looking to reduce cost by finding cheaper ingredients, improve or characterise quality, evaluate a product over shelf-life, reformulate for nutritional or labelling concerns or simply to compare your products against competitors - it is important to have the knowledge and skills to analyse, identify and objectively measure the impact of these changes on the final product. We can help you achieve this with our tailored product characterisation training.
We offer a wide variety of services including problem solving, characterisation and consultancy. If you have any issues or questions relating to the texture of your products, please get in touch.
About Jo Baker-Perrett
Jo is a Food Scientist in the Rheology and Texture section of the Production and Processing Research Department. Jo's main roles include product assessment, with a focus on the physical properties of food products and ingredient functionality Read more...