Raw cocoa beans take on a more even brown color after processing. Image Credit: Flickr User thart2009 (CC BY 2.0)
I once had the pleasure of visiting a tea processing plant in Rwanda. My favorite part of the tour was tasting the five different qualities of tea that the plant produced, I thought their lowest quality tasted the best. Though tasting was an interesting treat for me, for the processing plant, tasting their product is a necessary part of quality control. Quality assurance takes on many forms in many different industries, but for the cocoa processing industry, color is king. Accurately measuring the color of fermented and processed cocoa beans can help reduce wastage in their production cycle and guarantee a quality product.
Quality Assurance Throughout Processing
No matter who cocoa processors are selling to, buyers are sure to want good, consistent quality. That quality can often be determined by the color of the cocoa beans, after fermentation, drying, and roasting. Some cocoa processors may simply use their eyes to guess the color, and therefore the quality, of their cocoa. Eyeballing cocoa for color can be about as accurate as having me try to guess which kind of tea is the highest quality. However, quality assurance can be streamlined using spectrophotometers to accurately measure cocoa color. This can reduce a processor’s wastage in the fermentation process, and guarantee consistent quality control in the drying and roasting stages.
Just like with tea processing, cocoa beans go through chemical changes as they flow through the processing cycle. As you know, the first chemical process is fermentation, which oxidizes the tannins, giving beans a more palatable flavor. The fermentation process is the first opportunity for wastage, as when beans are over or under fermented, they are unusable. Spectrophotometry can help catch fermentation process problems right away by measuring color. This early alert to process problems can help save time and money.
In the past, cholesterol measurement and screening was limited to blood testing and analysis, but new technology utilizes chemical skin testing and spectrophotometers for a noninvasive alternative. Image source: Flickr user Neeta Lind
When my husband and I first applied for life insurance, low monthly payments were the top priority for our meager newlywed income. Ten years later we were kicking ourselves for having to renew our policy, and once again the home visit was scheduled for weight checks, cholesterol measurement, and other impertinent blood work. A decade ago cholesterol wasn’t an issue for us, but this time around our levels were elevated, so we decided to start a new regime of healthier eating and a more active lifestyle to bring the levels down.
Cholesterol measurement in the past was limited to uncomfortable blood draws and lengthy wait times for laboratory analysis results. Even with new technology, the ability to monitor your own cholesterol still requires a doctor’s visit or clinical testing. However, healthcare researchers have been developing a new method of cholesterol measurement that allows for simple and noninvasive screening using a chemical skin test which produces color changes in the skin and color analysis using spectrophotometric technology.
Food safety and quality depends of color technology to quickly and accurately analyze the properties of our foods. In the dairy industry, spectrophotometers provide a wealth of information needed to maintain both quality and safety standards. Image Source: Flickr user www.bluewaikiki.com
In today’s food industry, there is one tool that surpasses the rest when it comes to food analysis: spectrophotometers. Spectrophotometry uses advanced color technology to analyze various components of food products and can provide a wealth of information about the foods we buy, sell, and consume. With heightened awareness around the globe regarding the safety and quality of our food choices, color technology addresses both of these concerns with one safe and easy-to-use tool.
Color technology applications in the dairy industry
The dairy industry is one such field that uses advanced color technology to provide precise data about nearly every aspect of production and manufacturing. From protein, sugar, fat, and moisture content analysis to chemical composition and packaging, spectrophotometers can quantify color data using absorption and reflective values. All of these properties can be clearly identified using color technology, making spectrophotometry one of the most versatile tools in this industry.
Spectrophotometers can analyze the protein, sugar, fat, and moisture content of dairy products with one simple and easy to use tool, ensuring the safety and quality of all products. Image Source: Flickr user Elsie Hui
Not only are these tools highly adaptable to the various stages of dairy production, but color technology instrumentation also offers one of the only safe and non-destructive methods of analysis. These tools are not simply for laboratory use. The portable and durable design of today’s spectrophotometers allows for analysis throughout every stage of production without disturbing the integrity of food samples. Early on-line detection of even the slightest variations can alert quality control changes before they affect an entire batch. This process saves both time and money, and ensures quality and consistency in the final product.
Ink color options and combinations are endless, so special attention must be paid to mixing and matching inks. Ink color density directly affects color outcome, and careful measurement of both density and color are necessary to achieve desired results. Image Source: Flickr CC user ben [deleted]
My years in the printing industry taught me one thing—color matters. But when you’re working with ink, color matching is a challenge, especially if you have high standards. Ink color density plays an important role for in-line color printing and has a direct effect on color uniformity and final outcome. Color density measurement can be achieved in several ways, of course, but spectrophotometers are the most versatile option for advanced control and quality.
Many major print media and label corporations are unaware of their options—or the capabilities of spectrophotometric instrumentation. As product supplies and industry needs continue to change, new innovations in spectral technology are keeping pace. And since challenges in ink color density measurement can affect many areas of product development, instrumental analysis is a key method of staying competitive in a growing market.
Color quality measurement in fruits has revolutionized the agricultural world. New advancements in technology ensure that fruits are processed at the desired stage of maturity to ensure ripeness. Image Source: Flickr user Erich Ferdinand
Fruits come in a wide variety, each with a unique maturation and color. Most importantly, all fruits have a peak ripeness state that is quickly followed by decomposition. As it turns out, color can help to indicate ripeness in fruits. As a result, color quality measurement techniques can determine how to pick and sort fruit, thereby helping growers to maintain higher plant yields while still providing a quality product to the consumer.
Foods vary in color, texture, and consistency. Developing a color classification system ensures that the right methods and instrumentation are used to generate the most accurate color data. Image Source: Flickr user Pen Waggener
Color measurement is a common practice in the food industry and provides a consistent and quantitative analysis of color. True color is often misrepresented by a variety of factors such as human color perception differences, variations in lighting conditions, and the angle of observation. Since various foods respond differently to these numerous elements, a color classification system has been developed to help food manufacturers make the best decisions in color measurement instrumentation based on food appearances and consistencies.
Spectrophotometers measure absorption values and can quantify cell growth in changes both rapidly and effectively in cell culture samples. Image Source: Flickr user Umberto Salvagnin
Cell growth monitoring is required in biomedical research to help determine the rate of change in cell-based tissues. A colorimetric assay is often used to quantify cell growth changes and provides a rapid and precise analysis about the basic health of these cells and can monitor their response to medications. This information is important for measuring metabolic activity, bacterial growth in cell populations, and can provide DNA analysis. Colorimetric assay data can then be used to develop treatment plans and monitor their success, providing a valuable resource in the medical research field.
Spectrophotometers provide specific cell information which is used to develop a colorimetric assay that can measure a variety of cell characteristics. This method of analysis is highly sensitive and can accurately quantify up to 3000 cells per petri dish1 and analyze their functioning and changes with UV and visible spectral absorption value measurements. Simple to use, non-destructive, with rapid and repeatable results, spectrophotometers are an essential tool in the medical science and research technologies of the future.