Texture News

Food on the go

According to Kantar Worldpanel, the food-to-go market as a whole rose to be worth £25bn in the year preceding September 2018, and food manufacturers have kept up with rising demand with a stream of innovation that fits into busy, on-the-go schedules. Products are easy to carry around and made simple to eat in single servings, often with forks, spoons or chopsticks included in the packaging. This trend has arrived at the same time as an eco-friendlier generation, with increased interest in plant-based food and dislike of single-use plastics, so products with a high meat content and traditional plastic containers will likely be snubbed in the supermarket.

The testing process subjected to ‘on the go’ products must also put their packaging on trial to ensure it will survive traditional transport methods as well as being pleasant to use.

Popcorn is a key example of a food that is eaten while on the move, having seen a rise in popularity since 2010. Unlike simple sweet and salted cinema popcorn of the 1990s, it is now available in every flavour from sherbet to cheddar. Consumers expect a crispy product and the packaging is key to maintaining this. Weak seals will allow moist air to diffuse through to the product, which will cause softening and an unhappy customer. Seal strength is a simple property to measure using a Texture Analyser. A section of the bag’s ribbed seal, of constant dimension, is pulled apart using tensile grips.

The popcorn itself is best measured in bulk, due to the large variation in sample geometry, and the Triple Ring Cutting System is ideal for this purpose. The test head contains three concentric, sharp rings which provide a large cutting surface area in a relatively small device, allowing for a single layer of sample to be tested.

Mini Tensile Grips; Triple Ring Cutting System; Ring Pull Rig
Mini Tensile Grips; Triple Ring Cutting System; Ring Pull Rig

A can of fizzy drink is the most obvious choice of a single drink serving. Cans made by top manufacturers are fine tuned to break at a very specific force and give off a characteristic ‘crack and fizz’ sound. The Ring Pull Rig can be used along with both audio and visual measurements (with the Acoustic Envelope Detector and Video Capture & Synchronisation System) to build up a full picture of the user’s experience when opening a can.

Yoghurts have long been part of packed lunches. They have come on a long way in recent years, evolving to kombucha-filled, dairy free or vegetable flavoured varieties. However, the general concept remains the same. Pot lids must peel without tearing and the product inside must be thick and creamy. The Universal Peel Rig, consisting of an adjustable sample platform and a peel grip attached to the load cell, is well-suited to measuring the strength of container seals.

Some lids are designed to be folded into a spoon; it is recommended that these are routinely tested for their rigidity as a material that is too flexible will not be fit for purpose. A three-point bend test is a quick and simple method for measuring the flexural stiffness of a material.

Ring Pull Rig; Three Point Bend Rig; Back Extrusion Rig
Ring Pull Rig; Three Point Bend Rig; Back Extrusion Rig

An assessment of the product itself should include a method that is designed for viscous liquids. Some studies incorrectly apply Textural Profile Analysis to yoghurt, but this method should only be used for large strain compression testing on freestanding samples. A more suitable test would use the Back Extrusion Rig, which gives a full profile of the sample’s consistency.

Small bags of pre-prepared fruit are a popular choice to grab from a supermarket shelf when shopping for a quick lunch. The challenge faced by manufacturers in this case is to ensure the fruit stays fresh and crisp but without excess packaging. Fruit samples should periodically be removed from their bag up until the specified ‘use by’ date and tested using a penetration probe. A 2mm diameter P2 probe is ideal for this purpose, as the puncture force of the skin can be assessed in the same stroke as flesh firmness. The bag itself must not be prone to bursting under the weight of other products during storage. The force required to burst a bag can be measured using a large compression platen. Anomalous low bursting forces should be investigated as part of any quality control procedure.

To find out more about Texture Analysis solutions for your on-the-go product range, talk to Stable Micro Systems today.

Person with takeaway food and drink

Adhesives are used everywhere, but how do we know how good they are or which one to use?
Testing tape using the Peel Test Rig'

The value of the world market for self-adhesive tapes is set to expand at an annual pace of around 6.3% over the next few years, reaching $69 billion by 2022. Opportunities abound across an array of industries, from packaging and non-residential construction to electronics manufacturing.

Proven high performance will allow adhesive tapes to continue to compete against other joining, bonding and sealing technologies. However, as pressure on quality control departments steps up, it is essential to be able to assess accurately adhesive properties and strength to determine the ideal components for a particular tape and so optimise its performance.

Request our newly revised article 'Measuring the Stickiness of Adhesive Tapes’ which outlines some of the methods now used to put tapes through their paces.

In the research world, scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences have been researching new adhesive materials based on silicon-substituted polynorbornenes. Adhesives are widely used in many areas of everyday life and industry and modern adhesives have been created to work under challenging conditions. However, new formulations are always being studied. In this paper, polynorbornenes, a class of polymers, were investigated for use in a pressure-sensitive adhesive. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform tack tests on adhesive specimens. Pressure-sensitive adhesives were successfully formulated. Read more

At the same institute they have been also been investigating pressure sensitive adhesives with tunable tackiness. Pressure sensitive adhesives are valuable to many industries. They do not require heating to form a strong bond. This study looks into the adhesive properties of various polymer-based adhesives, focussing on poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) and poly(vinyl caprolactam), which retain phase-separation ability in the presence of water at elevated temperatures, making it possible to obtain adhesives that reversibly lose stickiness when heated. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform tack tests and peel tests on adhesive samples. The switching temperature of the adhesives was found to depend on their water content. However, adhesion was found to decrease near the lower critical solution temperature in dry compositions. Read more

In the patent field, a number of patents have recently been published which use the TA.XTplus Texture Analyser as part of the claims substantiation and physical assessment of inventions. Companies such as Dynasol Elastomeros, Karl Liebinger Medezintechnik GmbH & Co., Proctor & Gamble. View patents

To review the typical types of tests used in the adhesives industry for texture measurement visit our Adhesives Testing page.

Alternatively request our articles that gives an overview of all of these methods for materials and adhesives testing.

The Packaging Research Revolution: Biodegradable polymer foams and rubbers

A major focus of current research in both industrial and academic institutions is the development of suitable alternatives to single use plastics. This has been driven by the worldwide push for a cleaner environment, and both the manufacture and disposal of plastics are harmful in separate ways. Packaging is a large contributor to plastic production, particularly the single use sector. One method of reducing this production is to replace traditional polymers with biodegradable alternatives. A drawback of biodegradable plastics is their reduced strength and toughness. Mechanical properties are an important consideration when it comes to packaging, so their control is a crucial stage in the R&D process. Consequently, Stable Micro Systems feature heavily in publications from this field. The following are a selection of recent journal papers, specifically those focussing on polymer foams and rubbers.

Researchers from Ohio State University have been investigating the optimal mechanical properties of biodegradable natural rubber-toughened PHBV bioplastics intended for food packaging applications. The incorporation of natural rubber into PHBV through melt blending improves its flexibility and toughness but sacrifices tensile strength, due to low rubber modulus and insufficient compatibility between the two materials. These unbalanced mechanical properties restrict the use of this blend in packaging applications. The objective of this study was to optimise the mechanical properties of PHBV/natural rubber blends by using peroxide and coagent. They used their TA.XT2 Texture Analyser to measure the strength of seals in a tensile test. Optimal mechanical performance of natural rubber toughened PHBV bioplastic was obtained using a combination of testing techniques. Read more

Researchers from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul have been investigating biodegradable starch-based foams incorporated with grape stalks for food packaging. As part of the enormous drive to reduce the use of disposable plastics in packaging, this study looks into the use of naturally-sourced packaging options. They used their TA.XT2i Texture Analyser to perform flexural tests of the foams according to ASTM D 790-03. Foams completely biodegraded after 7 weeks, demonstrating that for the experimental conditions used, the interactions between the starch and grape stalks did not generate recalcitrant compounds or structural alterations that would impair foam degradation. Furthermore, the foams including grape stalks presented good properties in the applicability test, showing a promising application in the storage of foods with low moisture content. Read more

Researchers from the Federal University of Jequitinhonha and Mucuri Valleys have been investigating biodegradable trays based on cassava starch blended with agroindustrial residues. Biodegradable materials are an alternative to traditional synthetic polymer-based packaging materials. When they are discarded into the environment, they are easily degraded into simpler compounds that can be metabolised by bacteria, yeasts and fungi. Among biodegradable materials, materials derived from renewable resources (e.g., starch) have received increasing attention because they combine environmental and functional benefits. This study investigates how the fibrous agroindustrial residue concentration affects the properties of the biodegradable trays and compares these characteristics with the features of expanded polystyrene trays. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform tensile tests on tray samples. The study found that fibrous agroindustrial residues can potentially be employed to produce biodegradable trays, especially the combination of sugarcane bagasse and cornhusk. Read more

Biodegradable polymer foams and rubbers

BBC shows off the Texture Analyser on ‘Dirty Vegan'
BBC shows off the Texture Analyser on ‘Dirty Vegan'

Recently Stable Micro Systems appeared on TV, putting the TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to work to prove the differences between tuna and vegan tuna products. Matt Pritchard from the BBC’s series Dirty Vegan visited Zero to Five (the Food Industry Centre based at Cardiff Metropolitan University in Wales) for the Season 2: 14th January broadcast. Food scientists were tasked to complete a number of vegan food challenges including the development of a vegan tuna product. This is a typical challenge for the Texture Analyser in an era of food product development where the removal of an ingredient (e.g. gluten-free) or the reformulation of a product (e.g. vegan) is constantly required.

Veganism is growing in popularity due to increased education about its environmental, health and ethical benefits. An Alpro report from 2018 (‘Plant-Based Profits with Alpro and BB Food Service’) stated that the UK plant based market at the time was worth £443m, having grown by £129m in three years. Due to this growth, vegan alternatives to products traditionally made with animal produce have swarmed the food market, and most use the new term ‘plant-based’ to describe a vegan product. It is now possible to buy a vegan version of almost every animal based product from chocolate fudge cake to crispy duck, and new companies are popping up that are dedicated solely to plant alternatives.

With this increased competition in the market, manufacturers have to try harder than ever to match the taste, texture and cost of the real thing. Consumers now expect vegan products to be almost indistinguishable from their animal counterpart. This presents a great challenge, particularly when it comes to texture.

Meat, for example, has a complex, fibrous texture that is difficult to imitate, but plant-based analogues can be put to the test quite simply by using Texture Analysis, to ensure that the results of physical testing match closely with tests performed on real meat. For example, pulled jackfruit is a popular topping for pizzas and tortillas, and is used in the place of pulled pork. Pulled pork is appealing because of its tenderness and melt-in-the-mouth texture. A reliable test of the tenderness of jackfruit is a bulk cutting technique. This product must be tested in bulk due to the large variation in sample geometries that result from the pulling process, and cutting is particularly useful here as it gives an indication of the force required to bite into the product, which represents its tenderness. Consequently, the Kramer Shear Cell or the Triple Cutting Ring System are the ideal testing rigs as they shear through a sample of variable configuration to create an averaging effect and provide a tenderness profile.

Cheese Extensibility Rig; Compression test; Acoustic Envelope Detector
Kramer Shear Cell; Triple Ring Cutting System; Temperature Controlled Peltier Cabinet

Although margarine has been available for vegans to spread on their toast for decades, a hard, meltable butter that can be used in the same way is a more difficult to come by, and this can limit vegan cooking by making certain processes difficult (e.g. rubbing butter and flour together in the pastry manufacture). A butter’s hardness variation with temperature can be measured with the use of an indentation probe and a Peltier cabinet. This provides a highly stable and accurate testing environment for controlled temperature tests, allowing temperatures from -20 to 80°C to be held. It is fixed directly to the base of the Texture Analyser on nylon insulating pillars that provide a thermal barrier from the instrument. A butter sample is placed in the cabinet and allowed to equilibrate to the correct temperature. An indentation test is then performed, usually with a conical or cylinder probe, to give an indication of the sample’s hardness. The temperature is adjusted, a fresh area of sample is moved beneath the probe, and the test is repeated.

In a similar way, the properties of melted cheese are difficult to replicate using plant based ingredients. The purpose built Cheese Extensibility Rig is ideal for testing the stretchiness of a melted cheese sample. A vessel is filled with a known weight of cheese and cooked until the sample melts. A fork attachment is lifted through the cheese and the profile of the force-distance graph gives a lot of information about the stretchiness that a consumer would perceive while eating it.

Kramer Shear Cell; Triple Ring Cutting System; Temperature Controlled Peltier Cabinet
Cheese Extensibility Rig; Compression test; Acoustic Envelope Detector

Animal products are an important ingredient in most traditional confectionery, and not only because of their influence on taste. They also play an important role in the texture of some products. For example, gummy bears made without beef gelatine can have too ‘short’ a texture; they do not stretch when bitten. As gummy bears are moulded, they have consistent dimensions, and so can be tested repeatably using a compressive ‘hold distance until time’ test. A more plastic sample will show a force drop during this hold period, whereas a more elastic sample (and more favourable to the customer) will show almost no force drop. This corresponds to a springier sample.

Milk chocolate has similar difficulties when milk is replaced with plant alternatives. They can play havoc with its mouthfeel and ‘bite’. Samples of milk chocolate can be tested in a three-point bend rig, and the force drop upon fracture gives an indication of the snap that will be felt in the mouth when the chocolate is bitten. The use of an Acoustic Envelope Detector will add another dimension to the test in the form of sound data.

Every time a vegan alternative to a more traditional product is introduced to the market, it is crucial that its texture is a close match. There are now so many excellent imitations available that manufacturers who neglect this aspect of their product will find it relegated to the reduced section in the supermarket. If you’re new to texture analysis, request our article entitled ‘Texture Analysis – Why texture measurement optimises food quality and customer satisfaction’ to give you a background on the use of this technology in your food manufacture.

Making up for texture in egg free food
Egg free food - macarons

The rise in demand for a plant based diet brings with it a wide range of challenges. However, there is one ingredient in particular that can cause big problems in its absence: the humble egg. Eggs play an important part in a lot of cooking because they have so many interesting functions. They can add shine to the top of pies, emulsify sauces, aerate chocolate mousse and add moisture and fat to cake.

When a whole egg is used in a recipe, they combine the individual properties of the yolk and white. They emulsify, bind ingredients and solidify when heated to provide mechanical support. When sugar is added, eggs are excellent at trapping air, adding lightness to a recipe. Whole eggs are used in waffles, brownies, muffins, cookies and sponge cake to name a few. The components of an egg may be used separately, too. When an egg white is whipped, it forms a stable foam. This is useful in macarons, marshmallows and meringues. A yolk, when used alone, exploits its high fat content and emulsification properties. Yolks are used alone in ice cream, custard, creme brulee and pastry cream.

Vegans have long been replacing eggs in their cooking with weird and wonderful ingredients. Now most supermarkets have a ‘plant based’ aisle, manufacturers have caught up with the home cooks and are selling products made with replacement ingredients, or else adjusted recipes. Egg free does not necessarily mean a product is vegan – dairy products may be included for those following an egg free diet. As with any new food product, it is crucial that its texture is tested thoroughly before it is released onto the market, or else it will be passed over in favour of a brand who have carried out the necessary research and set the gold standard.

The first product that springs to mind as ‘impossible without eggs’ is meringue. However, egg free meringue is made a possibility by the fact that chickpea water, otherwise known as ‘aquafaba’, forms into soft peaks when whipped, just like egg whites. The most important attribute of a meringue is its crispness. As meringues often come in irregular shapes, their crispness is most easily measured using a penetration test. A 2mm cylinder probe allows multiple test sites on the same sample, and is best applied to areas with a flat surface. A crisp meringue will show a definite force peak with a sharp drop off; a flaccid meringue will show a more gradual peak.

Eggs help to give brioche its fluffy texture, rich flavour and yellow colour. They can be replaced, however, with the addition of buttermilk and yellow food colouring, but this can compromise the fluffiness of the loaf, impacting both its softness and volume. Brioche volume can be measured using a simple measurement in the Volscan Profiler within 30 seconds. This is a benchtop laser-based scanner that measures the volume, density and dimensional profiles of solid products.

Brioche softness is often tested by the consumer in-store by squeezing it between the thumb and fingers, creating a ‘V’ shape with the hand. The Bread V Squeeze Rig imitates this process and allows the bakery’s R&D department to perform repeatable, scientific analysis of the freshness and appeal of bread products. Its V-shaped ‘fingers’ are pressed into a packaged or unpackaged loaf, and the force required to compress the bread is measured. Post-test calculations are then used as an indication of freshness – the lower the force and higher the value of springiness, the fresher the loaf. This non-destructive test offers simplicity and speed as the loaf requires no sample preparation and can be analysed within its packaging.

Volscan ProfilerC, Bread V Squeeze Rig and compression platen
Volscan ProfilerC; Bread V Squeeze Rig; Compression platen

In a similar vein, sponge cake relies on eggs for its richness and structure, although some recipes call for golden syrup or even vinegar replacements. As its name suggests, springiness is of high importance in a sponge cake – when squeezed, it should push back and return back to its original size. This property can be measured using a relaxation test, during which the Texture Analyser compresses a sample by a specific amount over a given time period. The analysis capabilities of Exponent software allow the springiness to be calculated from the force-time graph.

Although a crisp English biscuit rarely contains any eggs, its chewy American counterpart relies on them. This chewiness is difficult to replicate, but careful research and recipe control can give success. This usually calls for a recipe adjustment (in the form of increased water and fat contents) rather than an additional ingredient. A three-point bend test is a quick and simple way to assess chewiness. Unlike the desired sudden force drop in a meringue penetration test, a three-point bend of a chewy cookie should show a shallow profile, just as a customer would feel a gradual increase in force as they tear it in half between their hands.

3 Point Bend Rig; TTC Spreadability Rig; Back Extrusion Rig
3 Point Bend Rig; TTC Spreadability Rig; Back Extrusion Rig

Moving into the realm of semi-solids, both eggless pastry cream and eggless mayonnaise can be bought in specialist shops. Pastry cream replaces eggs with custard powder or potato starch; mayonnaise can use thickened soya milk. In both cases, their consistency should be soft and smooth. As mayonnaise is generally used as a sauce base or spread thinly on sandwiches, it has a lower viscosity than pastry cream (which must hold its shape), so their tests will not necessarily be the same. Pastry cream is well-suited to the Spreadability Rig, which holds a small volume of sample in a female cone and displaces it completely with a male cone. This has the added advantage of measuring the sample’s adhesiveness during the unloading period.

Mayonnaise is often tested using the Back Extrusion Rig. This rig is comprised of a sample container that is centrally located beneath a disc plunger. The disc plunger performs a compression test, which extrudes the product up and around the edge of the disc. This test measures the consistency of viscous products. Using the back extrusion principle (i.e. using a disc on the probe adapter) the consistency can also be determined directly in containers straight from the production line. This rules out pre-stressing of the material caused by transfilling; this cannot usually be avoided when using other methods.

The egg free concept is such an important area of research that Campden BRI, who provide the food industry with scientific, technical and advisory services, have a new ‘club’ dedicated to egg replacements, with the aim of finding the most suitable replacement for each product category based on an increased understanding of the mechanisms of plant-based egg replacements. To learn about Texture Analysis techniques for your egg free range, contact Stable Micro Systems today.

How to test keto product texture

The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high fat diet that has been used historically to control seizures in some epilepsy patients, while causing the body to burn fat (rather than glucose) for energy. It has had a recent revival and become an extremely popular way to lose weight. While a person on the keto diet will not go hungry with the large choice of filling foods still available (meat, fish, eggs, cheese, butter, nuts, berries and cream to name a few), one thing they do lack is the comforting feeling of sitting down to a plate of pasta or a steaming jam sponge pudding and custard.

However, due to the diet’s popularity, there is a large bank of recipes available online to create alternatives to popular high-carb foods at home. More recently, ready-made alternatives have made their way to major supermarkets. The challenge of achieving more traditional textures has not been met in most cases. One of our recent blog posts outlines some examples of keto alternatives and the best method of Texture Analysis to allow R&D departments to imitate the real thing. Read our post to find out the most suitable methods for such products as bread, tortilla wraps, pizza bases, biscuits and pasta.

The Texture Analyser can be used to measure almost every textural property of a food product and is a crucial step in the process of delivering the best range of keto alternatives in this quickly-expanding market.

Read more

Testing keto product texture

Dairy alternative market set to cause a stir

According to GlobeNewsWire, the global Dairy Alternatives market is expected to Reach USD 38.9 Billion by 2025. Factors like increasing awareness of consumers toward a vegan diet, lactose intolerance among the population and demand for various fortified dairy food and beverage applications are boosting the market growth. Whilst the high cost of dairy alternative milk and prominence of low cholesterol and low fat conventional milk will impede the market growth, the innovation in flavour and sources of dairy alternative beverages and increasing demand for soy milk, rice milk and almond milk proteins provide wider opportunity for the market to grow.

In terms of exciting product developments in this industry, according to Emily Heil at afr.com there is a high-tech vegan ice cream threatening to upend the dairy industry.

For years, people buying plant-based alternatives to animal products were used to flavours and textures that weren't quite the same as the article they were trying to copy. However, just as veggie burger makers like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are inching ever closer to mimicking the real thing, with lab-concocted beef-like marbling and juices, the creators of a new vegan ice cream are using technological wizardry to create a product that could fool even the most die-hard dairy aficionados.

Ice cream has been particularly tricky to veganise: Nut "milks" often freeze up hard or chalky or leave an aftertaste. "Dairy is one of the hardest things for us to conquer," says Washington chef Todd Gray, who hosted a tasting of the new offerings by Eclipse Foods recently. Eclipse founders Thomas Bowman and Aylon Steinhart hope to roll out their products to more food-service settings, such as tech campuses and universities, before going retail. They also have big plans for plant-based cheese, sour cream and yoghurt. But first, they're out to conquer ice cream.

Bowman and Steinhart claim they've re-created the texture, taste and functionality of dairy by using plant products to form micelles, "the magic spheres" that are the molecular structures of milk proteins. However, their ice cream's base ingredients – which include oat fibre, cane sugar, glucose, canola oil, cassava starch and potato protein – are less important than the process used to create it, they say. Tinkering with the steps - how to incorporate the ingredients, and the precise heating, pressurising and blending – was the key. "It enables the functionality that makes it indistinguishable from its animal counterpart," says Thomas.

As with all alternative ingredients, the proof is in the testing. The product will be rejected if the texture (and flavour) is not true to consumer expectation. That’s where texture analysis comes in. Once the dairy alternative product is formulated it will need to be compared with the ‘gold standard’ product, who’s texture analysis fingerprint will have been created as the ideal textural quality. If the new formulation is in any way different to the traditional product’s texture it may well be back to the drawing board. Can you risk launching a new product that doesn’t measure up in every sense? Make sure texture analysis is part of your product development process. See typical examples of texture analysis in the dairy industry here

Cargill have written an interesting article which summarises the latest trends in product development for the dairy industry entitled “Texture innovation smooths the way for todays’s dairy”. Clean label, reduced sugar and dairy alternatives feature as the latest trends – all of which require reformulation and therefore, ultimately, a check on the effects on product texture. Read the report

Alternative options to dairy milk - lentil, coconut and almond

Testing clean label personal care and cosmetic products
Natural beauty, clean skin

It started with food. Now the “clean label” movement is influencing the development of personal care and cosmetic formulations. There is a lot of confusion of what exactly constitutes a “clean label” product. However, it is generally accepted that “clean label” means using as few ingredients as possible and using only ingredients that consumers recognise.

What’s behind the trend? Consumers are demanding products that they perceive are better for their bodies, families, and the environment. Market research shows consumers now rank natural ingredients and environmental impact ahead of brand recognition and product descriptions. They expect personalised products from a company whose values align with their own. Food containing nothing artificial once qualified as acceptable, but according to a 2017 survey, shoppers now look for labels with less sugar, more protein, and fewer ingredients with recognisable names.

Potential growth for “clean label” cosmetic products is substantial. A survey of social media outlets reveals a spike in the use of the term “clean label” over the past two years. This consumer-driven movement has now crept into the personal care industry, where it has the potential to have a major impact. The skin care market is predicted to grow annually by 6% globally until 2022, and according to a recent analysis, much of this growth will be driven by increased consumer interest in natural, plant-based ingredients.

One of the biggest challenges that manufacturers face when working towards “clean label” for their products is reformulating an existing product or formulating a new one using “clean label” ingredients. Providing a clean label for such items requires formulators to consider new ways of making safer, sustainable ingredients. While consumers want clean label products, they are not generally also willing to compromise on product performance. Texture analysis can greatly speed up the reformulation process and new product development by providing quantifiable, repeatable and accurate data on the physical properties of a product.

There are a vast selection of physical properties (or product attributes) that a Texture Analyser can quantify in the cosmetic and personal care industries. Amongst typical examples are:

• Hardness of lipstick, lip balm, wax, false nails, soaps, creams, and eye shadows

• Firmness and friction of deodorants solids, roll-ons, and antiperspirants

• Hair combability and bend strength before and after conditioning and treatments

• Hair friction, smoothness, flexibility and stiffness

• Compaction strength, cohesion and payout of eye shadow and face powders

• Claims validation for skin firming and anti-aging products

• Spreadability, stickiness and curing of any product

Additionally, texture analysis is useful in validating product claims which can help manufacturers differentiate their products. If you are considering clean labelling your formulations, see the range of typical examples in action here.

In honour of our texture analysis heroes

When the Journal of Texture Studies was launched, food texture was just a small research area involving only a limited number of food scientists. However, 50 years on, food texture research has firmly established itself as an independent and influential multiple disciplinary subject of food science, dealing with the complicated sciences behind the design and consumers’ sensory appreciation and preference of food products. Thanks to generations of talented food texture researchers, huge progress has been made both in the fundamental understanding of the principles of food texture and applications of such principles in solving texture-related challenges.

To recognise the great contributions and achievements of food texture scientists, the Journal of Texture Studies felt that in its 50th anniversary year, it was appropriate to honour these outstanding food texture experts by offering awards in two separate categories: Most Outstanding Contributors in Texture Research and Rising Stars in Texture Research. The former is designated to honour esteemed senior texture researchers who have established international reputation for their outstanding contributions to the discipline, while the latter is designated to honour young texture researchers who are in a relatively early stage of their research career but have shown exceptional capability and potential to grow in texture research. Nominations of high calibre candidates were received and, after a strict process of selection by two judging panels consisting of texture experts of JTS board, the esteemed researchers in both categories were announced recently.

The Most Outstanding Contributors in Texture Research were selected because of their world‐leading research and outstanding contributions in either the scientific understanding of food texture or in the application of food texture theory and knowledge to solve texture issues concerned by industries and consumers. They are (in alphabetical order):

• Prof. Susana Fiszman, IATA, CSIC, Spain

• Prof. E. Allen Foegeding, North Carolina State University, USA

• Prof. Peter Lillford, University of Birmingham, UK

• Prof. John Mitchell, University of Nottingham, UK

• Prof. Katsuyoshi Nishinari, Hubei University of Technology, China

Another seven successful young researchers were nominated as the Rising Stars in Texture Research. All Rising Stars have research background in food texture and related areas. Despite relatively early in their scientific career, all award receivers have made recognisable contributions to the development of the discipline and have shown their talents and potential to grow in future. They are (in alphabetical order):

• Dr. Jing Gao, National University of Singapore, Singapore.

• Dr. Benjamin Holman, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Australia.

• Dr. Mario Jekle, Technical University of Munich, Germany

• Dr. Helen Joyner, University of Idaho, USA

• Dr. Laura Laguna, IATA, CSIS, Spain

• Dr. Curtis Luckett, University of Tennessee, USA

• Dr. Cordelia Running, Purdue University, USA

Stable Micro Systems was, of course, delighted to provide the awards for this celebration which have now been received. Read more about these awards and the background of each of the successful recipients.

The recipients - our texture analaysis heroes

Campden BRI defines cake 'fluffiness'
Fluffy sponge cake with cream and raspberries

What does fluffy actually mean and how can you measure it in a cake? Researchers at Campden BRI along with members of a research club including Kenwood/Delonghi (the makers of the domestic planetary mixers) and Upfield/Unilever (the producers of cake margarines) have been taking a good look at what makes a good cake. From their own research, Kenwood/Delonghi and Upfield/Unilever explained that consumers recognise fluffiness as an important parameter for cake quality. Campden BRI then set about to attempt to define cake fluffiness and to derive an equation to measure it.

Cake ‘fluffiness’ is commonly used as a desirable quality for cakes and the term is regularly used in adverts and on the packaging of cake products. It is therefore important to be able to quantify fluffiness when developing new and current recipes/processes or when making claims that one cake is fluffier than another. Common descriptors of cake fluffiness include: soft, light, airy, crumbly, springy and moist. It appears that there is no single accepted definition of cake fluffiness, so the challenge to measure cake fluffiness was greater than they first thought.

Is density a factor?

Focusing on what they knew and could already measure, a range of different types of cakes were baked, their textural properties analysed using their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser, and their density measured using their laser volume measuring system (Volscan). Informal sensory assessment was carried out by the project team and comments noted about the different cakes. This helped them identify if a cake was considered fluffy or not, rather than how fluffy it was.

The importance of texture

Next, the textural properties were analysed using a texture profile analysis (TPA) test. TPA is a double compression test which is commonly used for cakes and bread. It not only measures the firmness but also the recovery/destruction of the sample. Firmness is the maximum force reached during the first compression and softness is just the opposite of this i.e. the cake with the lowest firmness value is the softest. After further informal sensory analysis, the results were compared to the TPA results and it was found that there was a strong correlation between the softest cakes and the cakes which were perceived to be the fluffiest. This finding provided the basis for using softness (firmness) as a main parameter in objectively describing fluffiness.

The ‘springiness’ factor

However, they hypothesised that softness was not the only parameter to consider when determining if a cake was fluffy or not. They considered other parameters that were also generated from the TPA, such as springiness. Springiness is defined, from a TPA test, as how far the cake ‘springs’ back between compressions. They noted that some of the softer cakes were ‘claggy’ and it was observed on the Texture Analyser that they were also not as springy. That is, when compressed with a finger, they squash easily, but do not bounce back. It was then decided to use springiness along with softness, as the main parameters for describing fluffiness objectively.

They concluded that ‘fluffy cake is a soft and springy cake’. The next challenge was to incorporate these parameters into an equation that could be used to generate a fluffiness value. With the parameters and the method confirmed, the equation could be written as follows:

Cake 'fluffiness' equation

Cake quality is described and measured in numerous different ways and varies from person to person and from cake to cake. Fluffiness is just one of the characteristics that can make a cake delicious and desirable. This equation and definition give some clarity to an instrumental measurement of fluffiness. It is an arbitrary method of quantifying fluffiness that works for the cakes studied in this project. The values obtained are meant to provide a relative judgement on cake fluffiness. The units depend on firmness and the value chosen for ‘n’, which is the relative ‘importance’ of springiness. The value of K, which is a multiplication factor, was chosen to give numbers in the region 0 – 100. Through the series of experiments, informal sensory trials and discussion, we determined that the most suitable values were K = 106 and n = 5.

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Free-From Food Market growing to 2028
Free-from food market growing to 2028

The 'Free-From' Food Market is expected to surpass revenues worth US$ 60 Bn in 2019, according to a new study of Fact.MR.

According to a report, the free from food market is projected to register a CAGR of nearly 7.0% CAGR through 2028. Free-from food sales continue to remain influenced by a range of factors, including rising consumer awareness on food allergies and intolerances, and upward trend of health and wellness.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), food allergies are a growing public health concern, which affect nearly 6% children in the US alone. Absence of effective treatment for food allergies and intolerance has been complementing the adoption of free-from food among consumers worldwide. However, sustainable sourcing of free-from ingredients, and effective processing technologies, continue to remain key concerns to be addressed by players in the free-from food market. Read more

A key challenge faced by the free-from food manufacturers is sustainable sourcing of naturally-derived ingredients and preservatives, which are devoid of allergens, while retaining the taste and texture of food. Understanding the impact on texture, and the potential implications of these texture changes, is crucial in ensuring new product launches aren’t a miss with consumers. So, what can manufacturers do? Consistent, objective measurement is vital for informing reformulation and new product development, in addition to maintaining high quality standards.

Discover a range of testing options available for texture analysis assessment of foods reformulated to remove fat, salt and sugar.

With an incidence of coeliac disease approaching 1/200 in some European countries, the potential market for gluten-free products has never been so interesting. These products do however, need to be fully assessed to make sure that their sensory range of properties meet consumer expectation.

Request our articles Testing texture in reformulated food and Applying Texture Analysis to Gluten-Free Products

Consumers crave novel properties, survey finds

When it comes to food and drink flavours, consumers are more difficult than ever to impress because of the amount of choice they are exposed to.

As such, it is crucial that food and drinks are not only seen as appealing now but create some sense of excitement and adventure among consumers. Brands should push the boundaries of sensory appeal by continuing to launch products with new and innovative flavours and textures. The goal, when applicable, is to see these unusual flavours combined with novel textures and colours to create a truly unique consumption experience.

At a time when consumers are becoming more experimental and demanding than ever before, there is an opportunity for brands and products to continue to push consumers’ sensory perceptions and really wow. For instance, a total of 42% of consumers that were surveyed across the globe said that they liked products with new and novel textures.

Read more about this survey

Once manufacturers have decided that their new products need to have a textural focus they will need to measure this texture in order to provide consistency of quality and, in return, consumer satisfaction and brand loyalty. This is where the TA.XTplus Texture Analyser is the obvious tool for the job.

If you would like to see a summary of the many different textural properties that can be measured, visit our Textural Properties page.

Alternatively, request an article which gives common examples of how a Texture Analyser can be applied to the measurement of many food products.

Consumers crave novel properties, survey finds

Texture analysis of gluten-free products
Texture analysis of gluten-free products

Gluten is the complex of proteins found naturally in wheat, rye, barley, and spelt that gives elasticity to dough, helping it to rise and keep its shape. It is the ‘natural glue’ that holds food together. It is because of gluten that baked goods made with wheat have their characteristic texture, strength, and crumb structure, and other sensory properties.

Gluten performs such a valuable service, but unfortunately for a certain percentage of the population, the consumption of gluten can cause serious medical conditions such as coeliac disease, an autoimmune disorder. People with coeliac disease must avoid gluten in their diets.

An increased awareness of coeliac disease, in part, has driven interest in the gluten-free market which is projected to expand to USD 6.47 Bn in 2023 (CAGR of 7.6% from 2018). The growth in this market has also been fuelled by other consumer health trends including weight management and those that favour simpler, less processed foods.

Unsurprisingly, when gluten is removed from baked goods and other formulations, sensory properties such as taste and mouthfeel are usually compromised. Since gluten is present in a wide range of foods, it has been difficult for consumers to find gluten-free alternatives that taste good and have desirable texture properties. Consequently, manufacturers having been busy looking for different ingredient solutions that will address these problems and a wide of alternatives to their gluten-loaded counterparts are available. The potential market for gluten-free products has never been so interesting. These products do however, need to be fully assessed to make sure that their sensory range of properties meet consumer expectation.

Perhaps you are among these manufacturers? If so, you might like to receive our article ‘Applying Texture Analysis to Gluten Free Products’.

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Substantiate your product claims with texture analysis

Make sure you can back up claims with facts!

Customers are wary of manufacturers using taglines to tempt them into buying their product – a conditioner that states “hair three times suppler after first use” will not sell well if customers start using it and find no difference to their tresses.

News travels fast these days with thousands of cosmetics review sites and online shops, and products that fail to live up to their claims will be given poor marks. The manufacturers could have performed a simple bend test on hair specimens treated with their conditioner and would have found their mistake before it was too late.

The development of methods to measure the effect of cosmetics is driven by increasing pressure on cosmetic companies to provide solid evidence to support product claims.

Claims on cosmetics products need to be substantiated to protect the consumer from false advertising. False claims are not fair to the consumer and lead to scepticism over claims from all cosmetics companies, not just the ones who exaggerated their products’ abilities, and so other companies who work hard to ensure efficacy in their products will also be mistrusted. Prior use of particular ingredients or behaviour of formulations is not representative of the characteristics a new or different formulation, and so reading the literature is not enough.

Efficacy testing gives a manufacturer information on how well a product lives up to its intended use. Instrumental, clinical, sensory analysis and consumer market research are all used to substantiate efficacy claims. The inclusion of all of these methods is very important and will give useful data but instrumental is the least subjective with the least bias on human perception and consumer preference, measuring the nature and magnitude of product effect, and so it should never be skipped. Instrumental methods are precise and sensitive, but even so it can be difficult to measure the whole use of a product, which is why several instrumental methods testing different components of a product are used, and combined with sensory testing or market research.

Additionally, human perception can be correlated with machine data. Efficacy testing using instrumented methods has been of interest for decades, with the first publication of note drawing on a study on the UV absorbance of sunscreen excipients in 1947, in the first Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists. Since then efficacy testing has taken off, with subjective studies ahead of the game until the sixties when instrumental methods became more widespread, with the new difficulty of making tests reproducible between laboratories.

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Substantiate your product claims with texture analysis

Reformulating without sacrificing texture: Stratus Foods & Qualisoy
MReformulating without sacrificing texture: Stratus Foods & Qualisoy

Younger generations of consumers are frequently noted to be much more health conscious when it comes to food perhaps more than any other generation before.

As manufacturers work to offer “healthier” versions of many everyday food products with lower sugar content, different fats, and gluten-free ingredients, they may find themselves in a quandary. While consumers want “healthier” version of foods, they do not want to compromise on taste or texture. This presents a sometimes difficult challenge to food scientists. Reducing sugar, replacing one fat for another, or even switching the sourcing of a particular ingredient can change a food product’s texture sometimes slightly, sometimes dramatically. It can require many hours of experimentation to develop reformulations that come close to the physical properties of the “real” thing.

Recently, Stratus Foods and Qualisoy successfully tackled the challenge of reformulating margarines and shortenings to use U.S.-grown oleic soybean oil for pie crusts and laminated dough applications. “The results were nothing short of amazing,” said Roger Daniels, VP of Research, Development & Innovation at Stratas Foods. “We found that we achieved a new gold standard in performance without partial hydrogenation.”

Find out more in this video

Understanding the impact on texture, and the potential implications of these texture changes, is crucial in ensuring new product launches aren’t a miss with consumers. So, what can manufacturers do? Consistent, objective measurement is vital for informing reformulation and new product development, in addition to maintaining high quality standards.

Discover a range of testing options available for texture analysis assessment of foods reformulated to remove fat, salt and sugar.

Request our latest article ‘Testing texture in reformulated food’.

Measuring pasta quality parameters

A while ago we found this great article ‘Measuring Pasta Quality Parameters’.

The quality of pasta can be established by measuring a number of its characteristics which are considered the most important pasta quality parameters, such as colour, firmness during cooking and texture properties.

In this article, the methods most commonly used for measuring these parameters are described.

Click or tap here to read this article.

Amongst the recent developments from Stable Micro Systems is the Triple Ring Cutting System.

Bulk testing can now be performed with this device, which allows the determination of the textural properties of small non-uniform samples such as pasta or noodles in smaller quantities.

The design of the test head is based around a cutting array of concentric rings which provides a large cutting surface area in a relatively small device. The concentric rings cut into the sample during a test (to a chosen distance above the vessel base) and force the sample to breakdown, at which point the force during the procedure is recorded.

The Triple Ring Cutting System is a Community Registered Design and is a continuation of the ever-increasing range of innovative solutions for texture analysis.

Click or tap here to read more about this...

Meanwhile, researchers from the University of Parma have been investigating a multi-scale approach for pasta quality feature assessment.

The pasta industry has introduced in the market new pasta formulations to respond to consumers' nutritional and health needs. The resulting macromolecular, mesoscopic, and microscopic changes induced in pasta need to be evaluated.

In this work, a multi-scale screening of physico-chemical properties was performed on commercial pasta formulations (wheat semolina, whole wheat semolina, veggie, gluten free). They used their TA.XT2 Texture Analyser to perform hardness measurements on single samples.

Pasta samples showed significantly different properties. For example, wheat semolina and whole flour samples had a more pronounced viscoelastic behaviour and higher hardness. This study indicated the ability of a multi-scale approach in discriminating pastas' formulation.

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Measuring pasta quality parameters

Modifying texture can boost satiety in lower calorie foods, says researcher
Modifying texture can boost satiety in lower calorie foods, says researcher

According to a scientist at the Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture (Nofima), reshaping the texture of well-liked foods could help combat obesity and over-eating.

Quoc Cuong Nguyen's research investigates the link between sensory perception, consumer expectation and satiety and finds that changing the texture of well-liked foods, to prolong the chewing time and ensure prolonged oral exposure, could make people eat less whilst experiencing a similar level of pleasure.

Click or tap here to read more from this FoodNavigator article...

At the University of Leeds, scientists have been researching the influence of oral lubrication on food intake in a proof-of-concept study.

As overeating, overweight and obesity remain public health concerns, it is crucial to design satiety-enhancing foods that suppress appetite and lower snack intake. Existing research identifies oro-sensory targets to promote satiation and satiety, yet it remains unclear as to whether it is ‘chewing’ or ‘oral lubrication’ that might amplify satiation signals.

In this study, techniques from experimental psychology, food material science and mechanical engineering have been combined to develop model foods to investigate the role of chewing and oral lubrication on food intake. Uniaxial single compression tests were performed on the hydrogels using their TA.XT2 Texture Analyser. Results showed that snack intake was suppressed by 32% after eating the low chewing/high lubricating preload compared to the high chewing/low lubricating preload.

Hunger ratings decreased, however, differences between conditions were subtle and not significant. Thus, this proof-of-concept study demonstrates that manipulating oral lubrication is a promising new construct to reduce snack intake that merits future research in the oro-sensory satiety domain.

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Meanwhile, other researchers around the world have recently been using their Texture Analysers to investigate calorie reduction and satiety and the utilisation of fat replacers and have published their work in 2019.

For example:

· Partial replacement of meat and fat with hydrated wheat fiber in beef burgers decreases caloric value without reducing the feeling of satiety after consumption

· Rheological and pasting behavior of OSA modified mungbean starches and its utilization in cake formulation as fat replacer

· Feasibility of hydroxypropyl methylcellulose oleogel as an animal fat replacer for meat patties

· Functional and pizza bake properties of Mozzarella cheese made with konjac glucomannan as a fat replacer

Postharvest Physiology and Biochemistry of Fruits and Vegetables is a newly published book with an interesting chapter entitled 'Texture'.

“Postharvest changes are natural physiological processes occurring in all types of fruits and vegetables.

“Postharvest changes mainly influence the inner structure of the products, but are reflected in significant changes in the essential texture attributes. Thus, it is necessary to reduce inappropriate storage conditions, to satisfy consumer expectations offering high-quality purchased products.

“Inadequate storage conditions cause texture changes, dehydration, water loss, too fast ripening, and early senescence of products, which are mainly reflected as fruit softening and specific unpleasant texture attributes such as wooliness. Assuring an appropriate temperature and an adequate relative humidity during storage will slow down these negative changes, but will never improve the texture of the harvested products.

“Thus, to have the best possible fruit/vegetable texture it is essential to harvest products at the proper time and to guarantee optimum storage conditions.”

The destructive instrumental methods mentioned in this chapter include, among others: puncture, Magness-Taylor, compression, cutting, and TPA tests. According to the author of this chapter, these tests must be conducted using a texture-meter – such as the Stable Micro Systems TA.XT2i Texture Analyser.

To see a variety of probes and fixtures that can be used on the Texture Analyser for testing fruit and vegetables, click or tap here...

Click or tap here to request our article ‘A World of Food Development Possibilities with Fruit’

Postharvest Physiology and Biochemistry of Fruits and Vegetables

Texture Analysis on TV
Texture Analysis on TV

Channel 4 shows off the Texture Analyser

Stable Micro Systems have been recently given two opportunities to appear on TV, putting the TA.XTplus and TA.HDplus Texture Analysers to work to prove the differences between products.

Channel 4 documentary Food Unwrapped will soon feature the TA.XTplus in an episode where it will be employed to compare two types of french fries that KFC have just launched into their outlets. The new french fry has been designed to stay crispier for longer when purchased as a takeaway. A simple penetration test provided the result they needed to show the improvement of their new product.

In addition, the Christmas special episode of Food Unwrapped has recently featured the TA.HDplus, and our Texture Expert Paul Brown, out in the Lincolnshire fields assessing the differences between Brussels sprouts cooked with and without their ends being cross-cut.

These are just two typical examples of how a Texture Analyser is used to substantiate textural claims and to quantify the improvement/ deterioration of textural quality.

Find out more at our Beginner's Guide to Texture Analysis page...

Making Dairy product texture a priority

Consumers look for the best texture

'Making Dairy Texture a Priority' is an interesting article, published recently in Food Business News, reviewing the progress being made by major dairy product manufacturers in their efforts to make quality improvements and gain brand loyalty.

When it comes to dairy products, consumers typically expect smooth, creamy and void of standing moisture, liquid or frozen. They don’t want starchy or gummy lumps in sour cream, protein or mineral sedimentation in drinkable yogurt, or ice crystals in ice cream.

Visual cues are indicators of product texture, which in turn influences how the product feels in the mouth. This is why texture has become a focal point during the early stages of product development.

Most consumers don’t think about a food’s texture or mouthfeel unless it is inferior. Texturants can assist with delivering a product that keeps consumers coming back. 

“Texture is our first, and often our lasting impression of the food we eat,” said Brian Surratt, senior dairy applications scientist at Cargill Texturizing Solutions, Minneapolis, USA. “As a result, one of the most basic questions to answer before any development project begins is what is the intended consumer’s textural expectations and desires".

To read more on Cargill and other manufacturers' texturant solutions, click or tap here...

If you wish to request a copy of Stable Micro Systems' ‘Testing what varies in Dairy’ article, which reveals a range of new test methods developed to minimise variability in dairy foods, click or tap here...

Making Dairy product texture a priority

Food firming agents market to grow...
Food firming agents market to grow

...at a CAGR of 9+% by 2022.

Firming agents are those food additives which primarily prevent softening of processed fruits, vegetables, or fish product, especially during the process of canning.

These also provides firmness to the curd and to certain types of cheese. Increasing demand of canned food products across the globe is expected to contribute to the demand for firming agents during the forecast period. The change in lifestyles has influenced the additives market largely. Demand for proper texture, mesmerising taste and appearance have increased the use of glazing agents in bakery and confectionery segments. This has resulted in an additional demand for the overall industry.

These firming agents are most likely to be in powder form and, as such, may be prone to problems with flowability at a certain stage in the processing of the finished product. Problems such as caking, cohesion and knowing the ideal speed to push the powder through the factory with minimal disruption to output will need to be considered.

To help you assess such issues, look no further than the Powder Flow Analyser, which can be easily attached to your Texture Analyser and provide a whole new world of testing possibilities.

Click or tap here to request our new brochure covering every testing possibility for powders through to the finished product physical characteristics.

Taste, texture & temperature

The necessity of adapting food texture for patients' food intake

Getting food texture right for individual needs can make all the difference between enjoying food and being unable/unwilling to eat.

The reality for a fair number of maxillofacial surgery patients is that they will experience difficulties with eating and/or drinking of some sort during or after treatment periods, of varying degrees of severity and varying duration. Understanding the complicated processes that all need to work to perfection in order for us to be able to swallow properly as well as the role of saliva in supporting chewing and swallowing equips us with hints and ideas about how to mitigate many of these problems.

Our experience of eating is a complex mixture of contributions from different senses (taste and smell), the texture and temperature of foods, habits and social situations, our sense of (visual) aesthetics, sensual pleasures, as well as the clever ways in which nature runs our appetite in order to ensure that our bodies get the necessary nutrition. 

Concentrating on our sense of taste and the texture and temperature of food and drink is therefore a massive simplification but is helpful to gain some understanding of the interplay of food and drink with eating / swallowing. This is important to understand the normal functions, what happens when they are compromised and, hence, how one can best mitigate such difficulties by all kinds of practical tricks and how the modification of texture and temperature of foods enables oral food intake even in difficult circumstances. 

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The adaptation of texture for chemo patients is also necessary.

According to CalmerMe, the likelihood of your eating anything during chemotherapy can be improved by focusing on a meal’s texture rather than its ingredients. Different textures will work at different times for different people, so it might take a little experimenting.

Click or tap here to

Taste, texture & temperature

Texture is ‘the next big thing’
Texture is ‘the next big thing’

According to Mintel, texture is ‘the next big thing’, in food and beverage marketing in the US and Latin America.

As companies try to keep up with demand for new products and experiences texture plays a pivotal role in how consumers experience food and beverages.

Playing up texture can make existing products more exciting and give manufacturers another tool to renovate iconic brands, which in turn can ease the pressure to constantly innovate entirely new concepts.

The Research Manager for Mintel Food & Drink in the Americas told attendees at the 2018 Food Tech Summit & Expo in Mexico that data points to the fact that 81% of consumers in France say they choose ice creams that have different textures in them, and that 52% of consumers in China say they expect indulgent biscuits not just to have a great flavour but also layers of texture.

Mintel currently tracks 25 texture attributes on product packing and has discovered that three-quarters of product introductions addressing texture focus on only five attributes: crunchy, smooth, soft, carbonated and chunky. That means that those 20 other textural attributes are out there to be taken advantage of. Clearly, texture can provide a strong point of differentiation for brands in a competitive category, which at the moment is highlighted in the bakery and snacks sectors.

To read the full article on Food Navigator USA, click or tap here...

Once manufacturers have decided that their new products need to have a textural focus they will need to measure this texture in order to provide consistency of quality and, in return, consumer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

This is where the TA.XTplus Texture Analyser is the obvious tool for the job.

If you would like to see a summary of the many different textural properties that can be measured, visit our Texture Analysis Properties page...

Or you might like to request an article which gives common examples of how a Texture Analyser can be applied to the measurement of many food products.

Texture is the final frontier of food science

More than ever, products must feel right

Tweaking texture could give us healthy versions of our favourite junk foods – and that's just the beginning.

According to a recent Popular Science article, food’s texture, called rheology, is so intricately tied to our food preferences that it’s becoming a bona fide area of study.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) uses computational models to study how food moves and interacts with all of the surfaces of the mouth – technology previously used to predict tsunamis – to help better understand the connection.

The Tsunami inside our mouths 

A lot happens inside of our mouths between the first bite and the final swallow. The tongue may gently nudge the morsel towards the central incisors – whether to the left or on the right is a matter of unconscious preference – to break food down to even smaller pieces. 

The pieces may linger there, or get shunted to the back molars, or the tongue may shift them wholly to the other side. Alternatively, pieces may rest chipmunk-style in the cheek sacs along both sides of the mouth while the molars get to work. Or, depending on the person and the food, the piece may linger on the tongue, where salivary acids let it soften a bit before chewing even begins.

Food sensory researchers from The Understanding & Insight Group, a consortium of scientists from the U.S. and New Zealand, break these chewing preferences into four categories. Chewers prefer foods that can be chewed for a long time, like gummy candy. Crunchers prefer foods that respond with a resounding crunch, like potato chips. Suckers prefer foods, like hard candy, that dissolve slowly over time. And smooshers, the laziest of all eaters, prefer soft creamy foods that spread across the mouth with minimal effort – like puddings.

Modelling this turbulent behaviour isn’t easy – traditional imaging devices don’t work so well when the subject is moving – but it’s important. “Where we put food in our mouth will affect our perception of its texture,” says Harrison. The way our mouths interact with foods affects how enjoyable we find different formulations of ingredients. Adults, for example, enjoy a complex textural experience, which is why many chocolate bars come with nuts – the texture just adds a certain something.

Psychorheology is why some people will only drink H2O if it’s sparkling. The taste isn’t any different, but it certainly seems that way, and all because of how a food’s texture impacts a food’s perceived flavour. It also explains why we think gelato tastes creamier although it actually has less fat than ice cream, and why standard chips taste so much better than baked ones—despite the decades scientists have spent tweaking the actual taste time and time again.

And therein lies the ultimate goal of the food scientists: to alter foods’ textures so that the healthy stuff tastes (or at least seems to taste) so much better than it does now.

Texture is an important indicator of a food's fat content. If we can figure out how to trick our tongues into sensing more fat than is actually present in a food, we can increase satiation while decreasing a food’s calorie count. That's why some researchers are finally turning their attention to these taste-making sensations.

Click or tap here to read the full article...

Texture is the final frontier of food science

Japanese scientists probe the mysteries of food texture
Japanese scientists probe the mysteries of food texture

Quantifying the unquantifiable

Food companies are watching with keen interest as researchers in Japan delve into the nuts and bolts of sensations like "crispness" and "springiness". Their findings are expected to lead to new and more appetising products.

Taste, aroma and appearance are important factors in determining the appeal of foods, but the finer details of the dining experience are still little understood. The researchers are working to uncover the secrets of food texture by gathering data on "mouthfeel" and the microstructures of various ingredients.

Takashi Nakamura, a professor at Meiji University in Tokyo, is conducting studies on the springy textures of various kinds of starch.

Each type has its own characteristics. Tapioca, commonly found in bead-shaped form in Asian milk tea drinks, and "waxy cornstarch," used as a thickener in Japanese sweets, are different forms of starch. Their chewiness is similar, but the "waxy" form is easier to bite through, while tapioca has greater elasticity. The experience of eating them is filtered through the senses, so formulating a numerical index presents a challenge.

Quantifying 'crispy' and 'chewy' points the way to new and better products, according to Rimi Inomata of the Nikkei Asian Review.

Click or tap here to

Eating by texture

Eating by texture is a common type of disordered eating.

When it is not indicative of another condition, eating by texture means that an individual has decided to sort his or her food choices by the way that foods feels rather than by how it tastes or if it is required for a balanced diet.

For example, some disordered eaters may choose only foods that require chewing with the thought that this action may burn extra calories.

Other disordered eaters may choose only foods that “squish” in their mouths because they prefer that feeling to foods that “crunch.” While there is nothing inherently wrong with enjoying some textures over others, if this preference leads to eliminating foods required for healthy eating then it will adversely impact the body and overall health.

To read more of this article, written by Beth Morrisey, please click or tap here...

Eating by texture

Steak bite study could save meat industry millions
Steak bite study could save meat industry millions

Reassessment of meat texture returns dividends

An article in New Food Magazine has revealed that using their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser that mimics the human jaw, Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board experts have shown that cuts of muscle previously used for slow cooking are tender enough to be sold as fast cooking steaks.

Electronic bite testing has shown that the meat industry could save more than £7 million by re-labelling certain cuts of meat. The early trials conducted by the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) have shown that cuts graded as slower cook are tender enough to be turned into thin cut steaks.

As part of its work to increase carcass value, AHDB experts used their Texture Analyser to measure the force needed to ‘bite’ through a small sample of meat. They found that meat from muscle groups often sold as slow cook, such as chuck, are suitable for quick cook thin steaks – thus increasing their value. Early tests indicate industry could reap more than £5.2 million creating thin cut steaks from chuck and £2.5 million from the leg of mutton cut (LMC). Extensive analysis has also been carried out on beef in the US. AHDB Beef & Lamb has also identified thin cut steaks as a new means to get consumers to eat more beef. 

Mike Whittemore, Head of Trade and Product Development at AHDB, said: “British pride lies in the quality of the beef that’s produced. The ‘bite test’ uses shear force to measure tenderness, meaning that retailers could quantify quality and charge accordingly. It also helps to ensure consistency and boost consumer confidence in beef steak.” The human jaw is so sensitive it can detect a change in tenderness of just 0.5kgs.

Research with UK beef will continue, potentially offering retailers opportunity to label thin cut steaks from good through to premium, on counters across the country. Within the AHDB strategy, a target to increase the value of the English beef category by three per cent has been set. Quality is also identified as a key driver of choice for consumers.

Laura Ryan, AHDB Beef & Lamb Strategy Director, said: “This is a strategic move, allowing the wider meat industry to gain more value and improve quality from every beef carcass. The research offers processors opportunity to move cuts needing to go towards lower price options, into the higher value thin cut steak category, as and when they need.

“Most importantly, thin cut steaks meet consumer needs. Today’s busy lifestyle means people are changing their eating habits and demand ease in cooking meat of any kind. These steaks can be cooked quickly, forming part of a wide range of dishes for lunch or dinner, from stir-fries, to beef salads, to fajitas and steak sandwiches. The cut also commands a price, which both generates greater value for the producer and retailer, but remains affordable for the customer.”

Currently, there are a number of different names for quick cook steaks, including minute, sizzle and frying steaks, which can cause confusion for shoppers. Using consumer research, the name, ‘thin cut steak’ has been tested and proven to be the most effective.

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