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Texture, and the related mouthfeel of a food item, or finger feel of another product where sensory perception is fundamental (e.g. cosmetics, nutraceuticals), plays an essential role in the consumer's evaluation and acceptance of that product. In some cases, these characteristics are even more important than those of taste, appearance or smell.
If the producer can gain understanding of how the consumer views the texture, then scientific measurement and analysis is possible, bringing with it the ability to deliver consistent quality aligned to desirable properties.
Often the initial evaluation is performed by consumer evaluation panels, essential to gain insight into preferences and terminology. Once this information is known, the producer can correlate their own internal expertise and data to the sensory findings.
A texture analyzer can be used to accurately, and repeatably, test the product to measure numerical output against the subjective findings. The effect of changes to preparation or ingredients can be scientifically quantified and steps taken to match or improve previous formulations, or a competitor's offering.
Food Technology Corporation's texture measurement systems are in use in schools, colleges and universities worldwide.
A practical texture analysis capability is valuable in science disciplines with an emphasis on laboratory work and the physical analysis of food or pharmaceutical products. Academic departments in food science and nutrition, or chemistry, which cover food technology and food/nutraceutical/pharmaceutical product design & development are then able to test the physical properties of samples. Related courses covering environmental sustainability, food safety and strategy, the agri-food business, economics and marketing can also use these facilities to appreciate the balance with processing, manufacturing and shelf life requirements.
Research programs tackling the challenges in delivering nutrition, combating the impact of a poor harvests, investigating digestive health issues and optimizing many elements of the food supply chain, are just some project areas which may utilize an instrument such as a texture analyzer.
The complexity of the structure of food products, resulting in complex behaviour when undergoing deformation, requires a measured scientific approach to understand fully. The textures derived from mechanical properties range from viscoelastic flow to brittle fracture, and the variety of FTC fixtures designed to recreate the interaction of a consumer—or processing and packaging equipment—with the sample enables relevant testing and thorough correlation studies.
In industry, R&D facilities can use a scientific approach to product improvement, whilst minimising costs and achieving consistent quality. Food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical organisations can achieve controlled texture and so maintain a competitive advantage in the face of a changing business and legislative climate. The TMS-Pro system incorporates Texture Lab Pro software, enabling the development of custom test procedures to perform the thorough and complex research experiments.
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