Artists depend on quality and stability in their art supplies to ensure that their work of art will stand the test of time. Image Source: Flickr user Dean Hochman
Artists in ancient times created their masterpieces by mixing and creating their own painting mediums. Quality and consistency in developing pigment color was an art in itself and nearly as important as the finished product. The paints and supplies that artists use today are virtually all created by art supply companies and manufacturers. With thousands of choices and a limitless selection, today’s artists demand pigment color that meets quality standards to ensure that their artwork will stand the test of time.
Caramel coloring is a commonly added food colorant to many foods, especially in baked goods where a homemade appearance is desirable.
Image Source: Flickr user Rebecca Siegal
For years I have been buying wheat bread as a healthier alternative to white bread, but recently I learned that the rich brown color that I’ve come to associate with whole grains may simply be a caramel color additive that is used to manipulate consumer perception. Well, it works! My own personal preference has not changed, despite the knowledge that two products may only vary in color. My visual perception directly affects my taste and I still lean towards the rich brown color that my brain has grown accustomed to.
Manufacturers are also aware of the important role that color plays in consumer choice. Color additives serve a very important purpose in today’s food industry, and food and beverage companies must find ways to appeal to both the oral palette as well as a visual one. Caramel color is highly effective in altering the color composition of many foods, and spectrophotometers offer the ability to accurately measure color changes as caramel color is added. In doing so, manufacturers can achieve the desired appearance that consumers demand, and with consistent results each time.
The commercial beverage industry utilizes food dye additives to create a rainbow of color choices which appeal to today’s market. Image Source: Flickr’ user The Kingsway School
This past weekend marked the end of my youngest son’s recreational basketball league and like most youth sports teams, we headed to our local pizza parlor to celebrate. Of course with the free range soda fountain, the ever popular “graveyard” soda pick was popularized that evening by none other than my own 8-year-old son. To those of you who are uneducated in the “graveyard” refreshment, it consists of a random selection of all soda fountain choices that when combine create a unique taste and color sensation. As I watched him mix his drink creation, I noticed that the selections have greatly expanded since the original “graveyard” beverage choices from my youth. Not only have the flavor choices expanded, but thanks to the analysis of food dyes in beverages, there are now many more vivid color choices available as well.
From bright colored soda flavors to multi-colored sports drinks and even flavored spirits, today’s beverage color selections have far exceeded the normal range of hues. Not only do the unique flavor combinations help sell the product, but the analysis of food dyes in beverages also play an important role in product formulation. With only a limited number of dyes approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in foods, commercial beverage manufacturers must rely on only seven FD&C dyes to create the entire palette of artificial food colors to formulate the many color choices in today’s liquid refreshment selections1. Spectrophotometers offer a simple yet effective tool needed to maintain color consistency and quality in commercial beverages and can simplify the formulation process by quantifying and storing this information for batch-to-batch repeatability.
Biomedical optics offer non-invasive alternatives to many healthcare procedures through the use of spectrophotometric technology. Image Source: Flickr user frankieleon
Biomedical optics very well may be the future of our health care industry. Whether you are an athlete, patient, or parent of an infant, biomedical optics will most likely play a significant role in your health care or that of someone you love in the near future. Biomedical optics utilize NIR (near-infrared) spectroscopy in a number of ways and provides a safe, non-invasive, and non-destructive method of analysis for a variety of medical needs.
Many cultured milk products such as cheese and yogurt depend on fermentation to develop quality foods. In turn, large scale manufacturers rely on spectral analysis to quantify sugar levels and to create consistent products. Image source: Flickr user Larry Jacobsen
Many food and beverage products such as beers, wines, and cultured dairy products utilize fermentation for quality and effectiveness in manufacturing. This process requires a quantitative analysis of the sugar content of a product to monitor fermentation, as well as the transition of these sugars to their fermented state. Spectrophotometers can provide this type of quantitative analysis while helping to maintain product consistency, which takes a lot of the guesswork out of developing a quality product.
Spectroscopy is commonly used in analytical forensic pharmacology and toxicology and is valued for its non-destructive methods and accuracy. Image Source: Flickr user U.S. Army RDECOM
Just the other day I found myself in a discussion among friends about the various applications of color measurement. A good friend of mine, who works as an undercover narcotics officer, informed me that the police force relies almost daily on spectrophotometers for forensic analysis. Although I am familiar with many other uses of spectrophotometers and color analysis, this new area of spectrophotometric technology was something I wanted to delve into a bit more.
Spectral analysis plays an important role in the evaluation of baked goods and raw materials and can measure the uniformity and quality of these products. Image Source: Flickr user Shimelle Laine
Flour is a staple that serves as the foundation for many baked goods and products. Many of these baked goods rely on spectral analysis to maintain uniform color. Controlling the color of the raw materials that are used in the production of baked goods is the first step towards consistency and uniformity. Since even slight variations in color can have a major overall effect, this uniformity is of the utmost importance to the finished product.
Flour production is a complex process that requires many steps of analysis. Spectrophotometers are often used to analyze flour color in addition to other key elements of flour. Flour is a biological product, so the raw materials that constitute it often come from a variety of sources. When manufacturing and developing flour, these raw materials can vary greatly and must be evaluated for protein quality and quantity, moisture level, ash content, color, and other physical properties. Spectral analysis provides an effective and efficient method of measurement for many of these properties; so much so, that the analysis of every property can be achieved with one simple tool: the spectrophotometer.