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The role of NIR in analysing food

By Joe Whitworth+

02-Apr-2014
Last updated the 02-Apr-2014 at 22:10 GMT

Photo: Bruins Instruments
Photo: Bruins Instruments

Analysing food products using Near Infra-Red (NIR) spectroscopy is crucial to get accurate measurements on physical and mechanical properties, according to Bruins Instruments.

The firm, founded in 1979, produces precision NIR analysers for industries including food.

The FoodCheck machine is available in transmission or transmission and reflectance configurations.

Value for meat industry

Clemens Bier, a food scientist at Bruins Instruments, said it measures the optical spectrum in a couple of measurements to get results.

“It is very important [to get accurate measurements] because in the meat industry that is your value and it is that what you trust and you make decisions for the process based on those values,” he told FoodQualityNews.com at Analytica 2014 in Munich.

Bruins Instruments - FoodCheck

This machine gives you control of the quality directly so you can make the decisions when the meat comes in, when you produce and not when you are waiting a couple of hours for laboratory results.

“So you have the value that you get your results within one minute and you can act based on these results and manage your processes.”

NIR can analyse products or materials for compositional analysis and provide quantitative information on physical and mechanical properties.

The wavelength range is 730-1100nm for transmission and 1100-2500nm for reflectance, with 5nm scan increments.

Main parameters

“It’s designed for the meat and dairy industry to measure the main ingredients such as the fat content, the water and protein content,” said Bier.

“After one minute you get the results for all your main ingredients.”

Bier said that a food firm could put a sample in a petri dish and put it on the machine to start the measurement.

“You are measuring the NIR spectroscopy’s main parameters: fat, water, protein, collagen in meat or fat floating in dry matter or dairy products to check your main ingredients.”

The patented magnetically controlled sample handling dish allows multiple subsamples to be measured automatically.

It has a water resistant stainless steel housing with some machines featuring an rating of up to IP-65.

“I think in the meat industry you can only put an instrument directly to your production if you have this hygienic rating. Otherwise you have always to go to the next office to make measurements,” added Bier. 

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