A trend at this year’s Food Expo was to offer laboratory instruments that not only carry out more-accurate measurements in a shorter time—a continuing trend from previous years—but also provide multifunctionality in a single instrument. Because of these improvements, a single machine can now replace several older models required to do the same functions less efficiently.
For example, ELISA Technologies’ test kits are now species specific, muscle specific, and heat stable. Teledyne’s instruments measure total organic carbon and total nitrogen. Maselli’s beer analyzer integrates measurements by a refractometer, a sound velocity transducer, a carbonation monitor, and an oxygen electrode. Brookfield offers a digital interface for improved accuracy and control and software for direct PC control and data analysis. Hunter Lab’s color measurement port can now measure liquids from the bottom of the cup or solids from the top. Neogen’s 4-plate pathogen detection system is capable of performing multiple assays simultaneously. Hach offers the widest range of water analysis methods in a single instrument. National Food Laboratory’s new Sudan dye analysis method tests both raw materials and blended material products. And Mettler-Toledo’s SmartSens, SmartGrid, and SmartScreen updates save time, prevent mistakes, and provide results without touching the balance. Here are brief descriptions of these and other offerings.
• Species Identification. The next generation of test kits for determining the species content of rendered meat and bone meals, animal feeds, and cooked and raw foods is now species specific, muscle specific, and heat stable. The Melisa-Tek™ Meat Species Kit is available from ELISA Technologies, Inc. 4581-L N.W. 6th St., Gainesville, FL 32609 (phone 352-337-3929, [email protected]).
• TOC and Nitrogen Analysis. Total organic carbon analyzers have been tested successfully for more than 30 years, utilizing either of two techniques: ultraviolet/persulfate and catalytic combustion. No one analyzer can meet all applications. The Phoenix 8000 analyzer uses sodium persulfate in combination with UV light to oxidize organic material with high analytical accuracy and long-term calibration stability. The Apollo 9000 analyzer uses combustion with a patented reusable platinum catalyst for lowest detection capability. This unit can also analyze for total nitrogen. Both units are available from Teledyne Tekmar, 4736 Socialville Foster Rd., Mason, OH 45040 (phone 800-874-2004, www.teledynetekmar.com).
• Beer Quality Monitors. Beer quality control can be handled directly in-line. Maselli Beer Monitors provide all of the physical parameters needed by the operator to measure quality. This analyzer integrates measurements by a refractometer, a sound velocity transducer, a carbonation monitor, and an oxygen electrode. The analyzers are installed between the filter and the storage tank and require no bypass. This multifunctional analyzer is available from Maselli Measurements, Inc., 7746 Lorraine Ave., Suite 201, Stockton, CA 95210 (phone 209-474-9178, www.maselli.com).
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• Texture Analyzer. An instrument to analyze texture has been enhanced to provide greater simplicity of operation, increased load capacity (up to 4.5 kg), and expanded test flexibility. New features include a digital interface for improved accuracy and control and TexturePro Lite software for direct PC control and data analysis. Applicable to all types of foods, an automated Bloom Gel Test function provides rapid analysis for verification of established gelatin specifications. The LFRA Texture Analyzer is available from Brookfield Engineering Laboratories, Inc., 11 Commerce Blvd., Middleboro, MA 02346-1031 (phone 800-628-8139, www.brookfieldengineering.com).
• Color Measurement. A new color quality measurement system for coarse, non-homogeneous, and irregularly shaped food products has a large-area view. The measurement port of the optical sensor can be oriented so that it is facing up (to measure samples such as soup through the clear bottom of the sample cup) or down (for measuring chips through the open top of the cup). The system is network and PC compatible and contains a built-in printer for a hard copy of results. The D25LT model Large Area View Colorimeter is available from Hunter Lab, 11491 Sunset Hills Rd., Reston, VA 20190-5280 (phone 703-471-6870, www.hunterlab.com).
• Pathogen Detection. Genetics-based pathogen detection system is easy to use and maintenance free, eliminates false negatives, and minimizes chances of receiving false positives resulting from cross-activity with closely related organisms. A 4-plate processing system is capable of performing multiple assays simultaneously. Applicable to detecting pathogens in raw ingredients, finished food products, or environmental samples, the system’s automated continuous loading allows testing of approximately 372 samples at a time. Results are available in about 1–2 hr after enrichment. Simultaneous detection of Salmonella, Listeria, Listeria monocytogenes, and Escherichia coli O157:H7 and recording of the results simplifies data retrieval. The GeneQuence™ pathogen system is available from Neogen Corp., 620 Lesher Pl., Lansing, MI 48912 (phone 800-234-5333, www.neogen.com).
• COD Analysis. A UV-visible spectrophotometer, with bar-code-reading capability (automatic method detection and 10-fold measurement and averaging), a large touch-screen display (intuitive/ergonomic layout), and unparalleled stability (drift-free measurement) is available. It is said to have the widest range of water analysis methods in a single instrument. This instrument is the next generation for chemical oxygen demand analysis. The DR 5000 UV-Visible Spectrophotometer is available from Hach Co., P.O. Box 389, Loveland, CO 80538-0389 (phone 970-669-3050, www.hach.com).
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• Grain Analyzer. Since a single analyzer is not yet practical to handle the many food grains in cereals, one supplier has developed a wide range of individual specialty analyzers to effectively handle each separately. Large grains and corn kernels may be first milled in a Break Mill SM3, and production-like flour samples can be milled in a Quadrumat® Junior Laboratory Roller Mill. The Quadrumat Senior Mill handles preparation of production-equivalent test flours. The line also includes Models MT and MT-E Moisture Testers. Farinograph®-E, Extensograph®-E, Amylograph-E, Viscograph-E, and Micro Visco-Amylo-Graph® analyzers. All are available from C.W. Brabender Instruments, Inc., P.O. Box 2127, S. Hackensack, NJ 07606 (phone 201-343-8425, www.brabender.com).
• Sudan Dye Detetction. A new method of testing for the presence of Sudan red dyes in both raw materials and blended material products was introduced at Food Expo. The test assures freedom from illegal colorants. Sudan dyes are potential carcinogens and prohibited for use in food products in the United States and most other countries. It has been tested and will detect four types of Sudan dyes, including Sudan I (Sudan Red) and Sudan IV (Scarlet Red). Potential users of illegal red dyes have been found in chili powders, chili peppers, turmeric, paprika, red pepper, and oleoresins to preserve the red color over time. Further information is available from National Food Laboratory, Inc., 6363 Clark Ave., Dublin, CA 94568 (phone 925-828-1440, www.thenfl.com).
• Refractometers. Automatic and hand-held optical refractometers come in many varieties to solve various laboratory and production environments. Benchtop instruments, with and without water baths, offer digital measurements with the highest possible readability (0.00001 nD and 0.01% solids, and 0.1°Brix or 0.0001 RI). The results are designed to reduce operating costs, extend production yields, and cut excessive waste when measuring concentrations. The AR600 and AR700 Benchtop Refractometers and the Rhino, HP, and Goldberg series of Hand Held Optical Refractometers are available from Reichert Inc., 3374 Walden Ave., Depew, NY 14043 (phone 888-849-8955, www.reichertai.com).
• Analytical Balances. Responding to user concern over weighing security, a line of analytical balances and accessory equipment has been designed to secure processes, increase speed, and lower costs. Infrared sensors permit weighing and printing results without touching the balance. A unique grid weighing pan minimizes air turbulence in the weighing chamber. Overfilling is easily avoided, and minimum weights are even smaller. An ErgoClip holder allows secure fastening of any type of tare container. A multilingual and color-coded touchscreen and profiles configured for up to eight users or jobs save time and prevent mistakes. Excellence Plus XP Analytical Balances with SmartSens, SmartGrid, and SmartScreen enhancements are available from Mettler-Toledo, 1900 Polaris Pkwy., Columbus, OH 43240 (phone 800-638-8534, www.mt.com).
by Dean Duxbury,
Consultant, Oak Brook, Ill.