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12 October 2022

Alfatestlab services for Food and Drinks industries

In Alfatestlab we support the food industry since several years in formulation, deformulation and bench-marking projects, trouble shooting and R&D by providing material characterization by innovative analytical techniques. Whether it's solid, paste, cream, gel, emulsion or simply liquid material, ALFATESTLab can assist you in assessing the consistency of raw materials, in predicting shelf-life using light scattering analysis, to optimize grinding and granulation operations, or to accelerate the new formulation testing and new product development. Alfatestlab offers e-nose characterization for benchmarking studies, or panel tests. In addition, ALFATESTlab offers its customers high pressure homogenization process using the unique Microfluidizer  for uniform particle size reduction and stability improvement of emulsions, nano-emulsions or suspensions. The access to our unique technological platform can help you make a big difference in extremely competitive markets!

Our technical platform allows us to provide:

  • Fast and objective physical stability measurements by Multiple Light Scattering and Zeta Potential measurements
  • Viscosity and rheological behaviour
  • Particle size and shape distribution
  • Aroma measurements to guarantee the quality and conformity to your consumers thanks to accurate and objective sensory analysis
  • Thermal analysis to prevent any destabilization behaviour
  • Powder flow properties
  • Etc.

We have listed here below some NON EXHAUSTIVE examples that illustrate our services:

Assessing the stability of milk based beverages during storage at room temperature

To guarantee the expected quality and the shelf-life of food products such as milk, yogurt, creme, beverage, flavour emulsions, baby food, etc. we know that fundamental properties must be controlled such as particle size distribution, physical stability, viscosity and rheological behaviour.  In Alfatestlab we can offer a complete characterization project for new formulations or to optimize existing products,and accelerate your bench marking studies thanks to e-nose analysis.

Figure 1. Multiple light scattering stability analysis of four milk samples. The graph shows the TSI (Turbiscan Stability Index) as a function of time for the four samples at room temperature.

Identification of any crystallisation phenomena into cream

Figure 2. Thermal analysis (DSC) performed with a double thermal cycle, between -20 °C and 150 °C in nitrogen flow, on two samples of pistachio anhydrous cream. The graph shows the DSC signal (left ordinates) as a function of time. The dotted line represents the temperature value (ordinates on the right).

Identifying the breaking point of the mechanical structure of yogurt

Figure 3. Amplitude Sweep test of a yoghurt sample for the determination of the Linear Visco Elastic Region (LVER). The graph shows the trends of elastic modulus (G', Pa, red trace), viscous modulus (G', Pa, blue trace) and phase angle (δ, °, green trace), as a function of shear strain.  

Nowadays chocolates are guarded secret and complex formula involving varying seeds, different ingredients, combinations of fermentation-roasting timings-temperature, flavours such as mint, coffee, orange, strawberry, and even red hot chilli pepper!

Chocolate hazelnut spreads benchmarking study

In Alfatestlab we can provide accurate benchmarking studies, extremely useful for our customers to improve, re-formulate or re-engineer their products. In the example below 4 brands of chocolate hazelnut spreads were characterized to compare their aroma profiles, sample A being the market reference, the odour map allows to easily visualize the differences between the samples and how far is a formulation respect to the goal.

Figure 4.Odour maps of chocolate hazelnut spreads based on Principal Component Analysis (PCA) with all peaks

Figure 5. Graphic representation of the differences (distances) between B, C, D chocolate hazelnut spreads compared to the reference A

Mouthfeel vs. particle size of different chocolate types

Mouthfeel is a fundamental property of chocolate and is strictly related to particle size and shape, that influence viscosity and rheological characteristics such as yield value: these parameters can be all measured in Alfatestlab.

Chocolate manufacturers need to detect the presence of large particles to control mouth feel, as well as to reduce production cost by optimizing milling process. Particle size parameters such as Dv95, Dv98 or the percentage of particles above 30 μm are typical parameters to differentiate chocolate types and can easily be obtained from laser diffraction particle size analysis.

Figure 6. Volume particle size distributions and statistical parameters of 3 different type of chocolates

While solid particles characteristics affect grittiness, the flow properties of the fat phase (cocoa butter, which may be mixed with other fats) control how the chocolate coats the mouth and influences the perception of flavour. Changing the viscosity has dramatic effects on mouthfeel!

Besides particle size, Alfatestlab can perform shape analysis of all the particles in chocolate, not only the cocoa but also the sugar and milk solids in order to investigate products with identical particle size distribution that behave differently, show different quality, flavour or mouth feel.

Quality control of chopped walnuts size and shape

Chocolate ingredients and add-ons deserve quality and consistency control to guarantee a long lasting customer satisfaction. When the ingredients have partice size over few mm in Alftaestlab we use dynamic image analysis to measure volume-based and number-based size distribution, as well as numerous shape parameters.

Figure 7. Volume and number particle size distributions and statistical size and shape parameters of a chopped walnuts sample.

As an Italian laboratory, coffee analysis is in our DNA! Alfatestlab experts understand the role of particle size distribution to extract the desired flavour from grinded coffee, and they know that particle size distribution should be adjusted depending on the type of coffee products to be produced: capsules, pods, espresso, Turkish coffee, or filter coffee. To prepare an espresso or Turkish coffee, a very fine grind with grain sizes below 1 mm is required, for common drip-brewed and filtered coffee particle size is below 1.5 mm while for Scandinavian, French or American brewed coffee, it is just below 3 mm.

Comparison of two grinding processes effect on coffee powder particle size

Figure 8.. Volume particle size distributions of 2 coffee powder samples.

Alfatestlab can also help coffee makers investigate other parameters such as particle shape and powder flowability to optimise production process and coffee quality.

Understand differences between coffee powders that behave differently in the process

Figure 9. Permeability test on 6 coffee samples. The graph shows the Pressure Drop values as a function of the applied shear stress. The lower the pressure drop, the higher the permeability to air, meaning easier movimentation of the powder

Finally, Alfatestlab is equipped to perform advanced and sophisticated analysis such as objective sensory evaluation of coffee blends or raw materials though electronic nose analysis or foam persistence and thickness on espresso using multiple light scattering.

Check our blog dedicated to coffee characterization to discover all our services and contact us to discuss your analytical needs.

Visit our website to discover all our characterization services:

Contact us to discuss your analytical needs!