Food Analysis

You analyze food to identify ingredients and additives as well as undesirable substances such as mycotoxins, heavy metals or prohibited substances. Foreign material has to be identified with food analysis methods for safety reasons, as well as to maintain good customer relations. You use microscopy to identify glass fragments, metals, plastics and stones as well as fragments from the food itself. In your laboratory you proceed fertilizer and pesticide controls. You investigate causes of food deterioration and develop preservation methods. Also, the microstructure of food is of particular interest for you as it significantly affects properties, behavior, flavor and texture of food. You need to understand the processes leading to various structures such as foams, emulsions, dispersions, extrudes and fibers.

Examine foreign material with stereo microscopes with low magnifications. You’ll get a preliminary identification of the unknown material and can select the proper method for further analysis of the particle. Receive information about how the particle was generated, and whether it was incorporated into the product during manufacturing or inserted by the customer.

To carry out more profound examinations you use light microscopes with brightfield, polarization and fluorescence contrast. Some food components are birefringent, including starch, fats, plant cell walls, muscle fibers as well as many flavor ingredients. Polarization contrast is invaluable to examine such crystalline materials. In conjunction with Linkam heating stages you observe the effects of tempering (e.g. ageing) on those structures. To detect microorganisms such as bacteria fluorescence microscopy of stained samples is valuable for you. Gram staining is typically used to study and view bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter and Shigella. Blue staining of starch with iodine is a valuable method as well as Fast Green FCF or Acid Fuchsin especially for the localization of proteins. Because most food materials contain large amounts of water and/or fat, Environmental Scanning Electron Microscopes (Environmental SEM) that enable control of both variable pressure and moisture within the sample chamber offer great advantages for the study of food systems without the need for either freezing or drying.

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