A new system that measures the texture of food could provide processors with results to improve the shelf life and taste of products, its manufacturer claims.
Stable Micro Systems claims its acoustic envelope detector system records and analyses the sounds emitted by food samples, which could help processors improve both the quality and sensory appeal of products. Measuring the crunchiness of products interests food processors as they attempt to create products with optimum sensory appeal, adding to the other measurable qualities. Texture can also give indications of the condition of the sample, including the shelf life and melting point of products, which will allow processors to find the optimum texture to reduce defects and improve output. When food is crushed or broken, characteristic acoustic emissions are produced, which can be quantified. These can then be measured against archived results to determine the texture and crunchiness of the sample. Analysing the texture of food using equipment and software provides processors with an objective measurement, which is an alternative to tasting panels traditionally used to evaluate the sensory experience. The texture analyser stresses the sample and the noise energy emitted is detected using a microphone, technically known as a prepolarised condenser transducer. The detector has been designed to have a high sensitivity to the frequencies emitted by crisp food with a low sensitivity to mechanical sounds created by itself and background noise, claims the manufacturer. Provision for an acoustic chamber for testing is not necessary. The measurements are then analysed using Stable Micro Systems' Exponent software. The software, compatible with Windows 2000 and XP operating systems, allows users to analyse the results in table and graphical form.
More analysis can be conducted if processors register with a specially created user network via the Stable Micro Systems website. The network provides users with a forum to compare and share results. The launch of the detector follows the results of research published by the University of Leeds last year. The research found a very high correlation between the machine-measured texture results and those made by both professional tasters working in the food industry.
UK-based Stable Micro Systems provides testing equipment and software to customers around the world.