Spectrophotometers Aid the Development of Eco-Friendly Plastic Film Alternatives

plastic film
A new generation of eco-friendly plastic film alternatives are being introduced to eliminate the environmental damage brought on by traditional plastic films. Image Source: Pexels user Scott Webb

Last month, a series of incredible photographs taken off the Honduran island of Roatan began making its way around the Internet. The images didn’t depict the turquoise waters and white sand beaches we typically associate with this small sliver of Caribbean paradise. Instead, they captured a different kind of island, one made of “cutlery, bags, bottles, and wrapping floating among the seaweed.”1 In one image, taken from underneath the rubbish pile, the garbage is shown from the sun’s rays penetrating the water, a stark reminder of how ocean-bound refuse can compromise underwater ecosystems.

What’s remarkable about the photographs from Roatan isn’t simply the vastness of this particular plastic island, but the fact that it is just one of many. More than eight million tons of plastic end up in the oceans each year. As Ian Johnston, environmental correspondent for The Independent, writes, “There will be more plastic than fish by 2050 and 99 percent of all seabirds on the planet will consume some.”2 But while Roatan’s plastic island may only be a drop in the ocean, many hope the images will raise awareness about the problem and spur change. “Think about your daily lives,” writes Caroline Power, a resident of Roatan, in a Facebook post. “Do you still use plastic bags? Ziplock bags? Plastic wrap on your food?” She believes that by examining our habits, we can make smarter choices to diminish our destructive impact on the environment.

For some, however, preventing plastic pollution isn’t simply a matter of making different choices with currently available materials, but creating products that replicate the appearance and functionality of their traditional plastic counterparts without the negative environmental consequences. One of the most important areas of interest is the development of eco-friendly plastic film alternatives. While these innovative products open up exciting possibilities for reducing reliance on traditional plastic films, their success depends on close monitoring of color and haze using spectrophotometric instrumentation.

plastic film
Traditional plastic films often end up in landfills or the ocean, where they present significant environmental dangers. Image Source: Pexels user Emmett

Why Plastic Film Matters

Plastic film is used in a wide variety of applications, from food packaging to grocery bags, landscaping to agricultural uses, electrical fabrication to art conservation. Part of its appeal lies in the fact that it is possible to manufacture plastic film in a broad range of colors and haze levels, making it extremely versatile both functionally and aesthetically. However, its broad appeal also translates into significant amounts of waste, particularly as most plastic film is employed for temporary, disposable usage rather than as enduring goods. According to Chaz Miller, state programs director for the National Solid Wastes Management Association, “Plastic film provides 17.5% of all plastic in the waste stream.”3

One of the challenges traditional plastic films present is lack of biodegradability and recyclability. Although some plastic films can be recycled, suitability for recycling and remanufacture depends on resin type and color as well as individual film characteristics, thus disqualifying many films. Even certain types of plastic films that are technically recyclable present practical problems for many non-specialized recycling facilities, as they can “snag conveyor belts and wheels in the sorting machines, bringing the whole process to a grinding halt.”4

When this plastic film isn’t recycled it has to go somewhere, and that means the landfill, incinerator, or natural environments. All of these can have significant environmental consequences, including contributing to the physical destruction of natural lands, releasing persistent chemicals into the atmosphere, harming wildlife, and disrupting ecosystems.

The Possibilities of Eco-Friendly Films and Plastic Film Alternatives

As awareness of the dangers traditional plastic films present grows, a number of organizations have begun investigating the possibilities of eco-friendly plastic film alternatives, particularly in applications related to food packaging. Last year, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) unveiled a biodegradable film made with milk protein casein, which could replace plastic film wraps. “It feels like plastic wrap when you look at it and hold it, but it does not stretch as much,” says Laetitia Bonnaillie, a research chemical engineer at the USDA. “Applications we are thinking of now are those single-serve packages that use so much plastic. The purpose is to make a packaging that has that has zero waste.”5 While Bonnaillie envisions that the film may initially be used for cheese, snacks, and meats, but could expand into broader usability. Because it is 250 times more efficient as an oxygen barrier than traditional plastic film and can potentially provide enhanced UV protection, the film can also prolong the shelf life of foods.

But the casein film isn’t just biodegradable; it is also edible and can be flavored. Tatsiana Savitskaya, a chemist and professor of physical chemistry at the Belarusian State University, is also experimenting with edible films, which she believes present exciting possibilities for creating truly zero-waste packaging. “As an example of edible film, there is packaging for candy. We pack the candy into the edible film and can eat the candy with this primary packaging,” she says, “We have also wrapped our edible film around fish or meat. You can pack it and fry it without oil, because we can add oil into the film—and also the spices.”6  

Other organizations are experimenting with eco-friendly films made materials such as potato peels and culls, chitosan, and dehydrated fruits. In the future, additives such as probiotics, vitamins, and dietary boosters could be incorporated into these films, giving them additional benefits and broadening their appeal. “The consumer is more and more interested in saving the environment while also optimizing nutrition,” Bonnaillie explains. “There is definitely interest in this.”7

plastic film
Spectrophotometric color and haze measurement is essential to creating high-performing plastic film alternatives. Image Source: Unsplash user Caroline Attwood

Using Color and Haze Measurement to Perfect Films

Widespread use of eco-friendly plastic film alternatives may still be some time off, but the development of these materials requires paying close attention to not just environmental impact, but appearance. After all, plastic products are useful and without high-performing alternatives, making meaningful changes on a broad scale is an uphill battle. Many consumers will want products that look as similar to traditional plastic films as possible, particularly clear films that allow packaging contents to be plainly visible. However, there are also infinite possibilities for creating new looks via unique color and haze combinations.

Establishing color and haze standards for eco-friendly plastic film alternatives will rely heavily on the use of spectrophotometric instrumentation. Spectrophotometers allow you to analyze color and haze with extraordinary accuracy and precision, giving you the information you need to evaluate new products and determine your own tolerance for aesthetic variation. Ingredient and process variables can be correlated with color and haze data to give you greater insight into how each variable affects the appearance of your product, allowing you to fine-tune your formulation and manufacturing process until you achieve your desired result. This includes analyzing the impact of nutritional and flavor additives, allowing you to integrate these novel components while maintaining your desired appearance. If your product needs to look similar to existing products, you can easily compare your product to that which you are simulating on an objective, numerical basis. You can also use spectrophotometric data to create a signature look for your products, making them stand out from the pack.

However, spectrophotometers aren’t just useful during product development. Rather, they can be used throughout the manufacturing process to ensure that your high aesthetic standards are maintained. By instantly alerting you to undesirable variation, you can rapidly identify formula or process faults and prevent a faulty product from being released for public consumption. While this is critical for companies manufacturing already well-loved products, it is also essential for new products to establish themselves in the marketplace and develop a reputation for quality. As such, spectrophotometers play a vital role at every stage of product creation.

HunterLab Innovation

HunterLab has been a leader in the field of spectrophotometry for over 60 years. Today, we offer a comprehensive line-up of portable, benchtop, and in-line instruments designed to meet the exacting needs of our customers. Our spectrophotometers are renowned in both the plastics and food industries due to their remarkable accuracy, precision, and ease of use, bolstering your ability to innovate and continuously create products of the highest quality. Contact us to learn more about our spectrophotometers, customizable software packages, and world-class customer support services and let us help you select the right tools for your needs.

 

  1. “Tide of Plastic Rubbish Discovered Floating off Idyllic Caribbean Island Coastline”, October 24, 2017, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/plastic-rubbish-tide-caribbean-island-roatan-honduras-coast-pollution-a8017381.html
  2. “How Plastic is Damaging Planet Earth”, September 28, 2017, http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/plastic-how-planet-earth-environment-oceans-wildlife-recycling-landfill-artificial-a7972226.html
  3. “Plastic Film”, October 1, 2010, http://www.waste360.com/Recycling_And_Processing/plastic-film-201010
  4. “Something Ugly Happens if You Try to Recycle Plastic Grocery Bags at Home”, March 14, 2016, http://www.businessinsider.com/can-you-recycle-plastic-bags-2016-2
  5. “Milk Protein Used to Make Biodegradable Food Wrap”, August 21, 2006, http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/milk-protein-film-1.3728398
  6. “Edible Packaging: The Future of Eco-Friendly Packaging?” http://www.dw.com/en/edible-film-the-future-of-eco-friendly-packaging/a-19165362
  7. “The USDA is Working on a New Type of Sustainable Food Packaging”, August 23, 2016, https://thinkprogress.org/usda-edible-food-packaging-9caa16d7d4fd/

Spectrophotometers Help You Stay on Top of Color Trends

color trends
For decades, pink has been associated with femininity, but it wasn’t always that way. Image Source: Pexels user Chimene Gaspar

Pink wasn’t always cool. For years it spoke to a kind of hyperfemininity, standing in for the word “girl”. It was the color of Barbies and bubble gum, nail polish and Mary Kay Cadillacs. It was regarded as a stark dividing line between genders and an excess of girlishness, and girlishness was not something to be taken seriously.

Of course it wasn’t always this way. When pastel-colored children’s clothing first emerged in the mid-1800s, pink had no gendered associations at all. By the early 1900s, however, that had changed. “The generally accepted rule is pink for boys, and blue for girls,” announced Earnshaw Infant’s Department in 1918. “The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”1 And so it went until the 1940s, when the associations reversed and pink became visual shorthand for “girl” while blue announced “boy”. Despite a temporary return to more gender-neutral apparel in the ‘60s and ‘70s’, these associations largely remain intact today.

Now that is changing and manufacturers of consumer products and packaging are an important part of both responding to and shaping this cultural transformation. To stay on top of and drive changing color trends, it’s imperative to implement strict color quality control protocols throughout the product development and manufacturing processes.

color trends
The celebration of millennial pink is an important lesson in how cultural conversations can transform our associations with color. Image Source: Unsplash user Erol Ahmed

The Evolution of Color Trends

Color is known to be one of the most significant drivers of purchasing decisions for virtually all consumer goods, from furniture to food, clothing to personal hygiene products. Color preferences are not static, instead they constantly change in response to cultural shifts and marketing efforts. Staying relevant and creating desirable products, then, requires understanding and being responsive to color trends.

Perhaps of the most fascinating and surprising color trend to emerge in recent years has been the celebration of pink. Specifically, millennial pink, which Elle Décor describes as “not quite salmon, but not quite rose.”2 The shade began to gain momentum in the early 2010s driven by high fashion designers like Céline, Ryan Roche, and Jonathan Saunders, the release of Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, Glossier packaging, and the nebulous world of social media. In the fall of 2015 Pantone announced Rose Quartz, a now-familiar version of millennial pink, as its 2016 Color of the Year, inspired in part by an Agnes Martin exhibit at the Tate Modern. Soon, pink was everywhere.

So what accounts for the rise of millennial pink, this in-between shade, different from the pale pastels of receiving blankets, more muted than Barbie pink? “We’re in a moment of ambivalent girliness,” writes Véronique Hyland in The Cut. “We’re embracing our girlier impulses: our vocal fry, the “likes” and “ums” we were told would hold us back, our #girlboss-ness. But we’re not quite there. We still have to hold something back.”3 However, others believe the popular of pink arises not just from a newfound celebration of femininity for women, but larger conversations about gender fluidity and breaking down of gendered barriers. “As gender sheds its once-binary definition in favor of a more complex, inclusive, and comprehensive one, pink is undergoing a similar rebranding, rejecting the increasingly defunct girly-girls only interpretation of femininity,” says Kim Vandervoort of Salon. “It seems obvious that this generation’s creative types would, knowing or unknowingly create an aesthetic that … mirror[s] the softening of rigid gender boundaries. It’s a pink for everyone.”4

color trends
Spectrophotometers allow you to stay responsive to ever-changing color trends by facilitating color formulation and ensuring consistency. Image Source: Pexels user Lum3n.com

Staying on Top of Color Trends

While millennial pink is having its moment and may have a long-lasting impact on how pink is perceived, color trends inherently change. Already, tastemakers are shaping the development of tomorrow’s hot new colors, requiring everyone from paint companies to publishers, fashion houses to furniture makers to shift their attention toward new hues. This process is facilitated by modern spectrophotometric technologies.

Spectrophotometers are designed to see color the way the human eye sees it, only better. By distilling color information to objective numerical data, color can be analyzed with the highest degree of accuracy and precision, replacing the subjectivity inherent to human sight. This allows you to create concrete color standards when developing new color formulations, regardless of material. You can also analyze virtually any type of sample to create standards reproducing historical colors. With your standard in place, the manufacturing process can be continuously monitored to ensure the colors of all products fall within your accepted range of tolerance, giving you the ability to instantly detect unwanted variation. If your products or product lines are comprised of multiple, disparate materials, then the color data provided by your spectrophotometer allows for easy color matching to ensure cohesion.

With color trends quickly changing, having flexible and versatile spectrophotometric instrumentation enables you to continuously stay on top of color trends and make rapid color switchovers. Some spectrophotometers, such as those offered by HunterLab, are also able to create an extensive archive of color data that can be drawn on to easily re-introduce past colors. Data can be shared across multiple manufacturing sites, allowing for seamless color communication. As a result, you can ensure consistent, accurate coloration regardless of location. Spectrophotometers allow you to create a complete color quality control system that will ensure you meet the exacting and changing preferences of your customers.

HunterLab Innovation

HunterLab has been a pioneer in color measurement technologies for over 60 years. Today, we offer a comprehensive range of portable, benchtop, and in-line spectrophotometers designed to meet the diverse needs of our customers in a broad range of industries. Our instruments are sought out by companies all over the world to act as the core component of their color quality control protocols owing to their extraordinary accuracy and ease of use. Contact us to learn more about our renowned spectrophotometers, customizable software packages, and world-class customer service and let us help you select the perfect color measurement tools for your needs.

  1. “When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink?”, April 7, 2011, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/when-did-girls-start-wearing-pink-1370097/
  2. “40 Pale Pink Gifts that are Perfect for the Millennial in Your Life”, November 9, 2017, http://www.elledecor.com/design-decorate/color/g9203971/pale-pink/
  3. “Is There Some Reason Millennial Women Love This Color?”, August 2, 2016, https://www.thecut.com/2016/07/non-pink-pink-color-trend-fashion-design.html
  4. “What We Talk About When We Talk About Millennial Pink”, July 2, 2017, https://www.salon.com/2017/07/02/watch-what-we-talk-about-when-we-talk-about-millennial-pink/

Spectrophotometers Help Food Manufacturers Switch to Natural Dyes

natural dyes
Color is the most important factor in shaping our perceptions of foods. Image Source: Pexels user Leah Kelley

When it comes to the taste of food, we tend to believe that our sensory experience comes from, well, the taste of food. But time and time again, research confirms that we eat with our eyes first. “People’s perception is typically dominated by what their eyes see,” says Charles Spence, professor of experimental psychology at Oxford University.1  Peter Barham of Bristol University agrees. “If we start by seeing a bright orange drink, we are very likely to think it will taste of oranges. Provided the taste is at least somewhat sweet and a little acid we will say it is orange—even if it is just colored, sweetened water or apple juice.” Indeed, studies show that people who eat canned peas with bright green food coloring report that the peas taste fresher than peas without food coloring, even when the peas are the same in every other respect. Even professional wine tasters have been tricked into attributing characteristics of red wines to whites with red dyes.

The extraordinary role color plays in taste perception explains why colorants have been used for centuries to enhance the visual appeal of foods. Throughout most of that time, colorants were derived from natural sources, but that changed around the turn of the 20th century as synthetic dyes were developed, offering more vibrant, diverse, and economical colors. Today, many foods we eat are enhanced with artificial colorants designed to enhance appeal and whet our appetites and foods marketed to children are particularly susceptible; according to a study by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a full 43% of foods marketed to children currently contain artificial dyes.2   

In recent years, however, the public has become increasingly concerned about the effects of artificial food dyes, prompting many food manufacturers to begin the process of phasing out synthetic colorants. Kraft Heinz, ConAgra Foods, Nestle, and General Mills have all begun removing synthetic dyes and Mars announced last year that it will eliminate artificial colors in a large bulk of its product lines over the next five years. Of course, this doesn’t mean that all coloring agents will disappear; rather, it means that food manufacturers must find natural alternatives to enhance product appearance. In order to develop new color standards and successfully transition to natural food dyes, manufacturers must employ sophisticated spectrophotometric technologies.

natural dyes
Studies on the health effects of artificial dyes have returned conflicting results, but many consumers err on the side of caution. Image Source: Unsplash user Kat Bruni

The Controversy Surrounding Artificial Dyes

The controversy surrounding artificial food dyes may seem new, but it’s actually been percolating for over 100 years when the Pure Food and Drugs Act was implemented in 1906. According to the law, artificial colors that were confirmed to be “injurious to health” were banned and the government began identifying “which of the existing 80 dyes used in foods were safe enough to keep legal.”3 30 years into the investigation, 65 of those dyes had been banned and as time passed the original list of 80 would be whittled down  to only seven that remain legal today.

But despite over a century of legality, those seven dyes remain controversial. Of particular concern are Yellow 5 and Red 40, which some studies suggest could contribute to hyperactivity in children with ADHD. Although the FDA doesn’t deny the possibility that the remaining dyes could have negative health effects, it does not believe there is conclusive evidence that would warrant an outright ban. As Rachel Hennessey writes, “FDA scientists have theorized that bad reactions to artificial colors in certain individuals may be similar to a food allergy, in that they only affect a small group of people and need to be avoided by those select individuals only, as opposed to the entire public.”

So why not add a warning label, as is policy in Europe and the United Kingdom? The FDA does not believe we know enough about the effects of these dyes to create a meaningful warning label. Who would be targeted by such warnings? Who would benefit? Lindsey Loving, Senior Director at the International Food Info Council, says, “Adding a warning statement could confuse the general public for whom the message is not intended, and could cause alarm regarding safe food ingredients that have been consumed by the public for years.”

Making the Change

Despite the absence of policy banning artificial dyes, food manufacturers have already begun changing their formulations due to public pressure. “Our consumers are the boss and we hear them,” says Grant F. Reid, president and CEO of Mars, Incorporated. “If it’s the right thing to do for them, it’s the right thing to do for Mars.”4

Of course, replacing artificial dyes with natural colorants doesn’t happen overnight. “Eliminating all artificial colors from our human food portfolio is a massive undertaking, and one that will take time and hard work to accomplish,” Reid notes.5 While customers want artificial dyes removed, they also want their favorite foods to maintain their appearance and food manufacturers must find natural colorants that mimic the hues consumers are accustomed to. This can be challenging, as natural colorants tend to be more expensive and less stable than their synthetic counterparts. Additionally, some natural dyes impart unwanted flavors on foods, making them aesthetically useful but practically unsuitable for inclusion in recipes. As such, making the switch to natural colorants is a time-consuming and laborious process that requires significant resources.

natural dyes
Manufacturers of everything from snack foods to cereal to cheese are moving away from artificial dyes toward natural alternatives. Image Source: Pexels user Foodie Factor

Spectrophotometry Helps Perfect Formulations

Spectrophotometers play an invaluable role in formulating and manufacturing all types of foods already and are part of many food manufacturers’ quality control processes. However, as manufacturers move away from artificial colors toward natural sources, these instruments take on renewed importance.

When you’re releasing a new formulation of a beloved food, your customers want to see the colors they are used to even when they have deliberately chosen to forego artificial dyes. As such, new products must replicate existing products to meet consumer expectations and maintain their positive perceptions of your offerings. However, attempting to match colors based on sight alone is not enough due to variations in human sight and the impracticality of implementing such a system across multiple manufacturing locations. Spectrophotometers eliminate the inherent instability of human color perception and provide an objective way of analyzing food color and identifying color matches.

Using spectrophotometric data from existing products, you can create a standard to which new formulations must adhere, ensuring that natural formulations replicate existing products as closely as possible. This takes the guesswork out of recipe creation, facilitating more accurate and rapid product transitions. The color data can then be used to maintain consistency within each batch as well as across multiple manufacturing sites, guaranteeing that the same colors are produced regardless of operator or location. This is essential to ensuring that new formulations meet consumer expectations and that your move away from artificial dyes doesn’t compromise your relationship with your customers.

HunterLab Quality

HunterLab has been a pioneer in spectrophotometric technologies for over 60 years. Today, we offer a comprehensive line-up of portable, benchtop, and in-line instruments designed with the needs of the food industry in mind. Our spectrophotometers are used by the world’s top food manufacturers to help them develop innovative new offerings and consistently produce the highest quality products. Contact us to learn more about our renowned instruments, customizable software packages, and world class customer support services and let us help you select the perfect tools for your needs.

  1. “Eating With the Eyes”, January 28, 2011, https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2011/jan/28/food-multi-sensory
  2. “Food Companies are Phasing Out Artificial Dyes, but Not Fast Enough for Some”, June 24, 2016, http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-artificial-food-coloring-0626-biz-20160624-story.html
  3. “Living in Color: The Potential Dangers of Artificial Dyes”, August 12, 2012, https://www.forbes.com/sites/rachelhennessey/2012/08/27/living-in-color-the-potential-dangers-of-artificial-dyes/#7360e9b0107a
  4. “Mars, Inc. Removing Artificial Colors from Candy like M&Ms, Skittles”, February 5, 2016, http://abc7ny.com/food/mars-inc-removing-artificial-colors-from-candy-like-m-ms-skittles/1189364/
  5. “Artificial Colors Being Removed from M&Ms, Skittles, Starburst and More”, February 11, 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/mars-removes-artificial-colors-mms_us_56bc8f98e4b0c3c5505020ba

Analyzing Color and Haze in Fruit Juices Improves Appeal for Health-Conscious Consumers

color and haze in fruit juices
Health conscious consumers are increasingly seeking out fruit juices to replace less nutritious beverages. Image Source: Pexels user Snapwire

Growing awareness of dietary dangers has profoundly changed the way many of us think about food. We increasingly seek out wholesome alternatives to indulgent treats and natural versions of artificially-enhanced favorites in efforts to maintain nutritional balance. Now, even companies that have historically acted as tasty diversions from healthy living are jumping onto the bandwagon in order to satisfy our ever-growing desire for healthier consumption. Fast food chains are offering low calorie menu items. Cereals that were once packed with artificial colors now derive their hues from natural sources. Fruit snacks that used to derive their sweetness from refined sugars now use, well, fruit.

However, one of the biggest focal points in the quest for healthier foods is in fruit juice beverages. In recent years, artisanal fruit juice producers offering all manner of small-batch, vegan, organic, and raw juices have sprung up around the country, serving health-conscious consumers premium products. And specialized companies aren’t the only ones who have seen the potential natural juices hold; last month, McDonald’s announced that it will be changing its Happy Meal juice option, replacing 100% juice Minute Maid with Honest Tea’s watered down fruit juices to lower sugar content.1 Meanwhile, Capri Sun, a lunchbox staple, unveiled four new product lines “made with all-natural ingredients and no added sugar.”2 “As a mom, I understand the importance of having options when choosing what to serve to kids,” says Melanie Huet, Vice President of Capri Sun. “Many parents are looking for natural ingredients and less sugar in their kids’ diets.”

At a time when fruit juices are rapidly displacing less nutritious alternatives, the time is ripe for making your mark in growing market. However, with more interest comes more competition and juice producers must create products of the highest quality to stand out in a crowded field. Spectrophotometric color and haze measurement is an essential ingredient to making the most appealing fruit juices possible and capitalizing on the aesthetics of your product.

color and haze in fruit juices
Studies demonstrate that color is the single most important factor influencing consumer perception of fruit juice taste. Image Source: Unsplash user The Creative Exchange

The Impact of Color

Color is the first thing customers see in juice and it dictates their experience of your product more than virtually any other factor. Color is of the highest importance whether you are creating a traditional fruit juice, a new, healthier version of a traditional juice, or introducing a novel new product that introduces your customer to new flavor combinations. It guides perception from the first glance, suggesting how the juice will taste and even the nutritional attributes it will have. And, indeed, color can be an important measure of quality; color can indicate variety and ripeness of fruit, reveal oxidation, and expose potential contamination. In other words, color is often a real indicator of taste and safety.

However, color is also instrumental in shaping perception of taste and quality regardless of actual taste and quality. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, for example, found that price and brand name had no impact on taste perception of orange juice. Color, however, did. When given two cups of identical juice – one with food coloring and one without – participants reported significant taste differences. In fact, color was the single most important determinant of taste. This research is supported by subsequent studies, which have found that the color of juice correlates with specific taste perceptions; reddish orange juice is considered to be sweeter and more palatable than green-tinged juice, which is perceived as sour.3 These data highlight the premium humans place on color in informing experience and bolsters the argument for prioritizing color quality in the fruit juice production process.

The Importance of Haze

Depending on the variety of juice you produce, haze may also be an important attribute that must be controlled for in the production process. While some fruit juices are expected to be crystal clear or entirely opaque, others may be more desirable in hazier versions. This haze may be derived naturally or via specific additives that enhance appearance. According to HunterLab’s True Measure blog:

In a fruit drink, whether there is any natural fruit juice or not, the appearance of haze can be created by the presence of oil flavor emulsions and/or clouding agents such as citric acid. These are added on purpose to create a hazy appearance in some flavors of fruit drinks such as pineapple, lemonade, grapefruit and guava where the consumer expects some scattering.

Monitoring haze can be a critical step in product quality control for both aesthetic and practical reasons, as haze level can both shape perception and potentially indicate process errors or contamination.

color and haze in fruit juices
Spectrophotometrically measuring the color of both raw ingredients and final products gives you end-to-end quality control. Image Source: Unsplash user Kaizen Nguyễn

Measuring Color and Haze in Fruit Juices

Today’s sophisticated spectrophotometers are ideal instruments for measuring the color of fruit juices. Spectrophotometers are designed to measure color the way the eye sees it while removing the subjective interferences inherent to human sight, creating an objective, quantifiable basis of color data analysis and facilitating batch-to-batch comparisons.

In order to implement a complete end-to-end color quality control system, you should measure the color of raw ingredients as well as the final product. This is vital in both the recipe development stage, allowing you to perfect your color standard,  as well as within production in order to ensure all products adhere to that color standard.  As Tom Stothard writes:

The fruit can be measured right at the start before processing to make sure that there is no issue with the fruit itself as this would prevent any time or money being wasted on processing produce that is sub-par. The juice at the end of processing should also be analyzed before being shipped to ensure the presence of a juice with all the characteristics it should possess. Of course, to be as accurate as possible, testing could be done after any additional ingredients are added.4  

By measuring color at various stages of production you are able to quickly identify and correct unwanted color variations to ensure only correctly colored juices are released into the marketplace while also adhering to any USDA standards applicable to your product. Which spectrophotometer you choose will depend on your specific requirements, most importantly if you require a transmission or reflectance instrument, or an instrument capable of both.

If your fruit juice requires haze measurement, selecting a spectrophotometer capable of measuring both color and haze is essential for your quality control process. Traditionally, color and haze measurements have been separate tasks, even if performed using the same instrument. The HunterLab Vista is a revolutionary spectrophotometer designed to capture transmission color and haze data in a single measurement, optimizing accuracy and efficiency. This instrument gives you the highest level of insight and control, helping you perfect your fruit juices with ease.

HunterLab Solutions

HunterLab has been a leader the color measurement for over 60 years. Today, we offer a comprehensive line-up of portable, benchtop, and in-line spectrophotometers designed to help our customers develop and produce products of the highest quality. Our commitment to technological excellence has led us to develop innovative solutions to the challenges inherent to the beverage industry, expanding your ability to implement rigorous quality control protocols and create the most appealing products possible in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Contact us to learn more about our renowned spectrophotometers, customizable software packages, and world-class customer support services and let us help you select the right tools for your needs.

  1. “McDonald’s Will Put Watered-Down Juice Boxes in Happy Meals So They’re Healthier”, September 15, 2017, http://www.grubstreet.com/2017/09/mcdonalds-makes-happy-meals-healthier-with-watered-down-juice.html
  2. “Capri Sun Now Offers Products Made with All-Natural Ingredients and No Added Sugar”, September 15, 2017, http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170915005076/en/Capri-Sun-Offers-Products-All-Natural-Ingredients-Added
  3. “Color Influences Sensory Perception And Liking of Orange Juice,” January 17, 2014, http://www.flavourjournal.com/content/3/1/1
  4. “How to Measure the Color of Fruit Juice”, November 3, 2015, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-measure-colour-fruit-juice-tom-stothard/

Spectrophotometers Facilitate Color Communication Across Languages and Cultures

color communication
Spectrophotometers help people and entities communicate color information around the world. Image Source: Unsplash user Andrew Neel

Distinguishing colors is perhaps one of the most fundamental human activities. We use color to organize, understand, and describe objects every day of our lives in both conscious and subconscious ways. The greyed meat warns us of spoilage. The orange pill tells us to take it in the daytime. The red leaves tell us fall has arrived. The green light tells us it’s safe to go. We wear our teams’ color to show our allegiance, we tell visitors that our house is the white one on the left, we dress ourselves in black to demonstrate our mourning.

But while colors are often regarded as facts – red is red, right? – the way we come to name and differentiate between colors is in fact a deeply cultural process. This variability of color identification across languages and cultures presents considerable difficulties in an increasingly globalized economy in which color information must be communicated throughout global supply chains. As such, industries are increasingly turning to numerical color classification systems based on instrumental color analysis to facilitate color communication.

The Invention of Color

The language of color can at first glance appear to a process of description rather than invention; we are simply assigning names to pre-existing hues. Paul Kay, a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, believes differently; he suggests that language itself impacts the way we perceive color. His research reveals that babies in pre-verbal stages use the right hemisphere of their brains to process color. As language is introduced, this processing switches to the right side of the brain, which also processes language. “The obvious conclusion is that language is constraining color perception,” he says.1

In order to better understand how the brain is activated to distinguish between colors, he then turned to brain imaging technology. “When easily named colors appeared (red, blue, green), the areas of subject brains dedicated to word retrieval were shown to be more active than when they were shown more complicated colors (pinkish-purple, greenish-blue).”2 In other words, our perception of color is deeply tied to the availability of language for that color. Of course, this is not the first time this has been suggested; the impact of language on color perception has been the subject of fascinating research for years; Jules Davidoff’s experiment with the Himba tribe in particular confirmed that “without a word for a color, without a way of identifying it as different, it is much harder to notice what is unique about it.”3 Other research has demonstrated the learning color terms increases both color memory and divergence perception, reiterating that color categorization is a social process that invents how colors are seen and understood.4

color communication
People struggle to describe cool colors efficiently while they have an easier time with warm colors. Image Source: Pexels user Alexander Tiupa

The Impetus for Language-Building

While each language of color, and thus its perception, varies across cultures, the development of color languages share a remarkably similar pattern. In a study published earlier this year, researchers Ted Gibson and Bevil R. Conway found that in every language “people can convey the warm colors—reds, oranges and yellows—more efficiently than the cool colors—blues and greens.”5 So what accounts for this phenomenon? Gibson and Conway believe that the answer lies in the fact that objects tend to be warm-colored while backgrounds tend to be cool-colored and we focus language-building on things we want to talk about.

When you think about it, this doesn’t seem to be surprising. Backgrounds are sky, water, grass, tress: all cool-colored. The objects that we want to talk about are warm-colored: people, animals, berries, fruits and so on.

This theory also helps explain why industrialization spurs the development of color language; with more objects of interest, we need more terms to precisely describe those objects. In other words, the assignation of language to color becomes more useful.

color communication
Spectrophotometers provide a universal language for communicating color across global supply chains. Image Source: Unsplash user Štefan Štefančík

Spectrophotometers Allow for Universality

In many ways, color language is inherently unstable, driven by cultural norms and evolving needs. As such, human color perception can never be objective, as each person’s experience of color may be different depending on cultural and linguistic as well as environmental and biological factors. Additionally, color language is by nature limited; it would be impossible to create a standardized language system that would allow us to describe the millions of colors visible to the human eye. Unless, of course, you use a spectrophotometer.

Spectrophotometers are essential tools across industries and are employed in the production of everything from pharmaceuticals to cars, building materials to edible goods. Designed after the human eye but removed from the subjective forces that impact human color perception, spectrophotometers allow you to distill color information to objective numerical data. This color data can be used to communicate across languages, countries, and cultures, translate chromatic information into established industry-specific indices, and establish color standards to guide production around the world. While this is vital for ensuring color accuracy and consistency in any type of production, it becomes particularly so when color must be communicated and reproduced within increasingly complex global supply chains. The instant communication and continuous monitoring made possible by spectrophotometers mean that you can be assured of accurate, consistent color regardless of manufacturing location.

HunterLab Innovation

HunterLab has been a leader in spectrophotometric technologies for over 60 years. Today, we offer a comprehensive line-up of portable, benchtop, and in-line spectrophotometers designed to meet the diverse needs of our customers. Combined with our customizable software packages, our instruments allow you to gain the highest level of insight into color behavior while easily communicating and monitoring color data across the globe. Contact us to learn more about how HunterLab spectrophotometers can help you bring your production to the next level.

  1. “Perception Colored by Language”, March 3, 2008, http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080303/full/news.2008.638.html
  2. “Color and Language”, March 10, 2008, https://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2008-03/color-and-language
  3. “No One Could Describe Blue Until Modern Times”, Rebruary 27, 2015, http://www.businessinsider.com/what-is-blue-and-how-do-we-see-color-2015-2
  4. “Hues and Views”, February 2005, http://www.apa.org/monitor/feb05/hues.aspx
  5. “Languages Don’t All Have the Same Number of Terms for Colors—Scientists Have  New Theory Why”, September 18, 2017, https://theconversation.com/languages-dont-all-have-the-same-number-of-terms-for-colors-scientists-have-a-new-theory-why-84117

Color Measurement Helps Oral Care Products Promote Adherence

color measurement oral care
Oral care manufacturers are using color in innovative ways to promote adherence and improve user health. Image Source: Unsplash user Lesly B. Juarez

Oral care is one of the oldest and most fundamental parts of healthcare. While many aspects of modern hygiene are relatively new, people have used oral care products since ancient times. “Egyptians are believed to have started using a paste to clean their teeth around 5000BC,” explains Colgate. “Ancient toothpastes were used to treat some of the same concerns we have today–keeping teeth and gums clean, whitening teeth, and freshening breath.”1 Toothbrushes arrived later, around 3500-3000BC, “when the Babylonians and the Egyptians made a brush by fraying the ends of a twig.” Even interdental cleaning devices acted as primitive flossing instruments in ancient times.

Despite this long history of oral care products, it has only been relatively recently that toothbrushes, toothpastes, and flosses have come to resemble the products that we know today. In fact, mass-produced iterations of these products all emerged just over a century ago in the late 1800s, ushering in new oral hygiene standards and facilitating improved self-care. Since that time, oral care products have continued to improve as scientific knowledge regarding pathogenic influences on oral health has grown. As a result, people are now keeping their natural teeth longer than ever before and commercial oral care products have become household essentials.

But despite widespread availability of affordable oral care instruments, adherence and motivation still remain challenges.2 According to the Delta Dental Oral Health and Well-Being Survey, 30% of Americans fail to brush their teeth twice a day.3 and only 25% of Americans floss daily. Those who do brush often don’t brush long enough or change out their toothbrushes often enough. These factors help explain why nearly half of American adults have some form of periodontal disease.4 “[A]s Americans live longer and retain more of their natural teeth, periodontal disease may take on more prominence in the oral health of the U.S. adult population,” says Paul Eke, MPH, PhD, and CDC epidemiologist. “Maintaining good periodontal health is important to the overall health and well-being of our aging population.”

In order to promote adherence, manufacturers of oral hygiene products are now developing new products that both attract customers and encourage use. Color plays a central role in many of these innovative developments, making spectrophotometric color analysis more essential than ever before.

color measurement oral care
A new generation of colorful oral care products is replacing the standard whites of the past. Image Source: Pexels user Pietro Jeng

Using Color to Reimagine Oral Care

“When I opened the mailer to reveal four small boxes in the colors of the tropics, I let out an audible ‘Ahhh!’” says Cheryl Wischhover. “My reaction was immediate and visceral. Was it a beautiful makeup palette? A sublime new fragrance? Nope, it was dental floss. Cocofloss, to be precise.”5

Cocofloss is part of a growing market of upscale oral care products that take everyday hygiene essentials and reimagine them as pieces of beautiful design. Inspired by the waters around Turks and Caicos, the color of Cocosfloss is perhaps its greatest asset. As Wischhover says, “Personal care is arguably the last frontier of good design, but that’s definitely changing. Startups like Cocosfloss [are] offering truly attractive products for a process—scraping biofilm off your teeth— that’s anything but.”

But Cocosfloss was developed not just as a way of cashing in on growing public appetite for aesthetically beautiful products; rather, it was created to help people re-frame their relationship with flossing and promote adherence. “We wanted to repaint floss and change the way people think and feel about it,” explains Catherine Cu, an artist who partnered with her dentist sister to found the company in 2015. “People think flossing is so gross, so we wanted to build a new association [with it].” The sisters believe this new association will help people change their habits and ultimately enjoy better oral health.

Flashy new startups aren’t the only ones capitalizing on color to create more attractive oral care products. In recent years, established manufacturers have released a variety of oral care products that marry form and function, with color acting as a central feature. Waterpik, for example, revealed its Aquarius Designer Series that allows you to choose from a range of colors to “bring beauty to both their surroundings and to the people who use them.”6 Meanwhile, Sonicare has expanded its color range to include rose gold, pink, and amethyst options, making its renowned electric toothbrushes stunning features rather than something to hide away in the medicine cabinet. Not only do these colors help a manufacturer’s products stand out from the pack, they may also promote adherence by increasing psychological appeal.

Practical Applications of Color to Promote Adherence

Of course, the potential for color to facilitate adherence doesn’t just lie in pure aesthetic appeal; for years, color has been used to communicate important information to help people use dental care products more effectively. Color changing bristles, for example, indicate when it’s time to swap out your old toothbrush for a new one. Color-changing toothpastes transform their hue as you brush to encourage proper brushing duration.7 Dental disclosing tablets use color to reveal the dental plaque that remains after brushing, allowing users to see what they have missed and improved their technique. By harnessing the power of color to communicate important information, these products empower consumers to make better choices regarding their health and well-being.

color measurement oral care
Spectrophotometers are essential for monitoring color in oral care products to increase appeal. Image Source: Flickr user Electric Teeth

Spectrophotometric Color Measurement of Oral Care Products

The central role color plays in modern oral care products demands that manufacturers integrate the highest level of color quality control within their production processes. Whether color is used for aesthetic or functional purposes, spectrophotometers are the ideal solution for monitoring the color of all types of oral care products to ensure accurate coloration.

Spectrophotometers are designed to mimic the way the human eye sees color while removing the subjectivity and inherent unreliability of human sight. By distilling color information to objective data, oral care manufacturers are able to gain vital insight into color quality at every stage of the manufacturing process. These instruments can be used to create color formulas and monitor both raw ingredients and finished products to ensure end-to-end color control. When the color of the product is designed to change through use, spectrophotometric analysis also allows for precise evaluation of color behavior in real life conditions to ensure efficacy.

The versatile nature of spectrophotometers means that they are appropriate for measuring the color of all material types, including metals, plastics, films, and pharmaceuticals. As such, they can be used in the development and production of a complete range of oral care products and facilitate color matching in products comprised of disparate materials. When color is an integral part of user adherence, this is vital in order to allow the product to reach its full potential.

HunterLab Quality

HunterLab has been a pioneer in spectrophotometric color measurement for over 60 years. Today we offer a comprehensive line-up of portable, benchtop, and in-line instruments that can be easily integrated in laboratory and factory environments. Combined with our EasyMatch QC software, HunterLab spectrophotometers give you unprecedented color insight and control, allowing you to create the highest quality products possible. Contact us to learn more about our renowned products and world-class customer support services.

  1. “History of Toothbrushes and Toothpastes”, https://www.colgateprofessional.com/patient-education/articles/history-of-toothbrushes-and-toothpastes
  2. “The History of Oral Hygiene Products: How Far Have We Come in 6000 Years?”, October 1997 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9643227
  3. “Survey Finds Shortcomings in Oral Health Habits”, October 20, 2014, http://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/2014-archive/october/survey-finds-shortcomings-in-oral-health-habits
  4. “CDC: Half of American Adults Have Periodontal Disease”, September 2012, https://www.perio.org/consumer/cdc-study.htm
  5. “An Era of Elevated Oral Care is Upon Us”, April 20, 2017, https://www.racked.com/2017/4/20/15293264/quip-cocofloss-fancy-dental-floss-toothbrushes
  6. “Waterpik Makes Oral Care Beautiful With Upscale Designer Colors”, November 3, 2014, https://www.waterpik.com/news-press/designer-color-waterpik-water-flosser/
  7. “Motivation to Brush for Two Minutes”, March 11, 2016, http://www.nature.com/bdj/journal/v220/n5/full/sj.bdj.2016.193.html?foxtrotcallback=true

Spectrophotometers Help Improve Color Fastness in Construction Paper

color fastness construction paper color
In an increasingly paperless society, construction paper still holds its own. Image Source: Pexels user Pixabay

Paper was once called white gold. Its ubiquitous nature and seemingly endless demand fueled the pulp and paper industry around the globe as various paper forms became everyday essentials. But as the age of computers dawned, Frederick Wilfrid Lancaster’s concept of the paperless society, first imagined in the late 1970s, began to materialize. Computers were thrilling; data from 60 reams of paper could be stored on a 700 MB drive, facilitating data access and data portability while sidestepping concerns regarding deforestation. As TS Viswanathan, Managing Director of paper product company Subramaniam Brothers, writes, “In the 1990s, production of paper in the US in writing and printing grade was around 90 million tons, which has dipped to around 60 million tons; it is continuing to decline.”1

And, yet, even as computers—in their many forms—come to largely supplant written forms of communication and data storage, there is something special about paper. “Paper is literally like a character in our life story, but it’s a character we haven’t paid a lot of attention to,” says Todd Stone, creative director with Carmer-Krasselt, an advertising agency that recently produced a series of TV ads promoting the benefits of paper. “When we see it and notice it, its ubiquity becomes apparent, but its importance becomes apparent too.”2 Thomas Ehrlich and Ernestine Fu agree. “Paper allows complete creative freedom; there is unrestrained creative potential with a sheet of blank paper that we find liberating.”3

Indeed, there are some forms of paper that cannot be replicated by electronic simulacra. Chief among these is construction paper, which has no digital equivalent. With its unique texture and an endless array of colors, construction paper continues to offer possibilities for work and play computers cannot. But the production of construction paper can now benefit from modern, computer-based color measurement technologies to optimize color fastness and appeal in an increasingly paperless society.

color fastness construction paper
Construction paper has played an essential role in everything from great works of art to classroom Valentine’s Day celebrations. Image Source: Pexels user Pixabay

The History of Construction Paper

Paper dates back thousands of years, but construction paper is a relatively recent development. In the late 1800s, the emergence of artificial dyes allowed for the production of vibrant “engine colored” papers, which mixed color into the pulp of the paper.4 Unlike coated papers, construction paper allowed for integrated, uniform coloration that could not be rubbed off. Its sturdy construction meant that the paper could be folded, perforated, and embroidered, making it ideal for children’s arts and crafts project while also acting as an integral part of elementary color theory in classrooms across the country.

However, children were not the only or even primary users of construction paper. These papers opened up new possibilities for artists who were previously limited to a restricted range of naturally-dyed papers that suffered from lack of diversity and vibrancy. Construction paper soon became a popular medium for both amateur and professional artists alike, with everyone from Gertrude Green to Chagall to Jackson Pollack using the material in their work in some way.

Color Challenges in Construction Paper

While the appeal of construction paper lies largely in its wide range of brilliant colors, those colors are inherently unstable. This can be readily observed in the dramatic color shifts of Ilya Bolotowsky’s collages, which obscure the artist’s intent, as well as the faded homemade Valentine’s Day cards of childhood. This color degradation is the result of UV interaction with the dyes as well as oxidized yellowing of lignin in the paper itself.

Although some artists intentionally seek out this color change, for most it acts as a barrier to construction paper use. As such, paper manufacturers have sought to improve color fastness in a number of ways, including the use of sulphite pulp and acid-free processing. Today, some manufacturers offer both “regular” construction paper made of groundwood pulp and more expensive “fade resistant” sulphite papers designed to appeal to those who want to minimize color shifts over time.

color fastness construction paper
Spectrophotometric color measurement allows paper manufacturers to perfect color resistance efforts. Image Source: Pexels user Pixabay

Improving Permanence with Color Measurement Technologies

Spectrophotometers play an essential role in the production of all types of paper by allowing for continuous color analysis at all stages of the production process. The color of raw materials and final products can be easily captured and distilled to objective data to ensure they fall into accepted color tolerances and produce papers that meet your standards. This data can be communicated across manufacturing facilities to ensure color consistency regardless of geographical location. For products whose primary source of appeal is color itself, this is a central component of product quality control.

Today’s sophisticated color measurement technologies are also vital for the development of improved color fastness in construction paper. Spectrophotometers give you the ability to determine the efficacy of fade-resistant efforts with the highest degree of precision. By taking baseline measurements and comparing them to measurements taken after varying lengths of UV exposure, you can closely monitor color behavior in response to environmental stressors and accurately quantify color shifts. This data can be correlated with process variables such as pulp and dye types as well as processing methods, allowing you to isolate and evaluate the impact of each variable. This data can then be used to improve fade resistance and produce papers that hold increased appeal for consumers.

HunterLab Innovation

HunterLab has been a pioneer in color measurement technologies for over 60 years. Today we offer a comprehensive line-up of portable, benchtop, and inline spectrophotometers developed for the needs of our customers in the paper industry. Our instruments give you the ability to monitor color behavior throughout the production process and alert you to unwanted color variations immediately, giving you the opportunity to take swift corrective action. Combining our spectrophotometers with customizable color measurement software also gives you all the tools you need to evaluate new processes as you seek to improve your products and optimize appeal. Contact us to learn more about our renowned instruments and let us help you perfect your manufacturing practices.

  1. “Writing on the Wall for Paper Industry”, http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/indian-paper-industry-in-crisis/article9288555.ece
  2. “Take Note: The Paper Industry is Planning a Big Comeback”, July 29, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/paper-or-pixels-after-years-of-decline-the-paper-industry-tries-to-win-back-consumers-hearts/2015/07/29/c942d6f0-3213-11e5-97ae-30a30cca95d7_story.html?utm_term=.56b375744d63
  3. “The ‘Paperless Society’’ is Far from Paperless”, September 24, 2014, https://www.forbes.com/sites/ehrlichfu/2014/09/24/the-paperless-society-is-far-from-paperless/#5c40a6637088
  4. “Construction Paper: A Brief History of Impermanence”, 1997, http://cool.conservation-us.org/coolaic/sg/bpg/annual/v16/bp16-07.html

Monitoring Japanese Soy Sauce Color via Spectrophotometry

The versatility of Japanese soy sauces is helping to expand the global soy sauce market. Image Source: Unsplash user Kuba Boski

“My mother always kept a gallon of Kikkoman Soy Sauce in the kitchen cubby,” writes Jenny Lee-Adrian. Whether preparing marinades, dipping sauces, or fried rice, the Kikkoman was an ever-present part of cooking in Lee-Adrian’s household. It wasn’t until years later, when she began cooking for herself that she realized there was a world of Japanese soy sauces out there beyond her mother’s beloved Kikkoman and these sauces can “vary wildly in flavor, texture, and appearance.”1

Indeed, as Florence Fabricant wrote over 20 years ago, “Soy sauce has many personalities. Its saltiness can vary from breathtakingly intense to mellow and muted. Its consistency ranges from watery to viscous.”2 This diversity makes Japanese soy sauces ideally suited for a broad variety of uses, whether you’re looking for a dark saishikomi or a light usukuchi. The varied usability of soy sauces combined with an increased propensity of consumers to eat at home and a growing body of research confirming the health benefits of soy help to explain why the soy sauce market is forecasted to increase significantly in the coming years.3

As the soy sauce market expands and consumers become more informed about soy sauce options, manufacturers must remain vigilant in monitoring the quality of their products to ensure they meet both industry and customer standards. As such, integrating spectrophotometric color measurement is an increasingly vital part of soy sauce production, even for those companies using time-honored, traditional methods of manufacturing.

soy sauce color
The colors of Japanese soy sauces can vary drastically owing to their raw ingredients and processing methods. Image Source: Flickr user Hiroyuki Ishizawa

The Creation of Soy Sauce Color

Soy sauces come by their color in a variety of ways. Many American manufacturers, for example, eschew traditional manufacturing methods in favor of “mixing soy protein with water, corn syrup, salt, and caramel color.” This produces a harsh and unappealing products that have little in common with fine soy sauces produced by Japanese companies. The highest quality soy sauces, on the other hand, use no artificial colorants. Instead, their trademark hues are entirely the natural result of traditional ingredients and fermentation-based processing methods. According to Kikkoman, one of the most renowned producers of soy sauce in the world:

The superb color unique to soy sauce is the result of the Maillard Reaction, which begins two or three months after brewing starts. In this reaction, glucose and other sugars combine with amino acids to produce a brown pigment called melanoidin. which gives soy sauce its beautiful color.4  

In other words, soy sauce grows darker as oxidation occurs, which means that manufacturers must carefully monitor processing to reach the desired level of coloration naturally, without resorting to artificial colorants. Although raw ingredient ratios and processing methods vary depending on the type of soy sauce being produced, the Maillard reaction is a primary component of color production in all soy sauce types.

Soy Sauce Color as an Indication of Quality and Usability

The Maillard reaction, however, doesn’t just affect color; it also has a significant impact on taste and aroma. As such, color in high-quality soy sauces isn’t simply a matter of aesthetics, but also acts as an important indicator of overall quality and usability. In fact, color is so important that it is perhaps the most important criteria used by the Japanese Soy Sauce Association to determine soy sauce grade.

Soy sauce grade and color have a deep impact on consumer perception, saleability, and product use. While koikuchi, a darkly colored sauce, is by far the most popular soy sauce in Japan, the lighter-colored usukuchi sauce is preferred by many in the Kyoto region. As Makiko Itoh points out, “In traditional Kyo-ryori (Kyoto cuisine), which has its origins in refined imperial court cooking, dark colored koikuchi soy sauce is considered déclassé and ruins the flavor and appearance of food.”5 Manufacturers must adjust their processing methods to achieve the precise kind and quality of soy sauce they are seeking, whether they are looking to produce tamari, which gives dishes a “burnished reddish-brown color and shine” or shiro, which adds flavor but not color.

soy sauce color
Spectrophotometers allow for the highest level of soy sauce color measurement to ensure products meet industry and consumer standards. Image Source: Flickr user McPig

Measuring the Color of Soy Sauce

The critical role soy sauce color plays in grading, appeal, and usability means that manufacturers must employ strict color measurement protocols to ensure that the products they produce are correctly processed for their particular purpose.  While instrumental color measurement is valuable for the manufacture of all types of soy sauce, it can be particularly vital in the production of light and extra light sauces, which must be produced in “extremely controlled” conditions to ensure “color is not deepened.”6

Spectrophotometers offer an ideal solution for color measurement challenges by distilling color information to objective data via sophisticated spectral analysis. These instruments also allow for precise, in-house color grading of soy sauces to ensure that each batch conforms to both industry color standards and your own color tolerances. By monitoring color behavior at every part of production, spectrophotometers can easily confirm that the product is progressing as expected regardless of raw ingredients or processing method used. If out-of-spec color variation occurs, spectral data may be used to identify production problems and locate the source of the issue. As such, manufacturers are able to rapidly isolate production faults and take appropriate action to correct processing.

HunterLab Quality

HunterLab has been a leader in color measurement technology for over 60 years. Today, we offer a comprehensive line-up of portable, benchtop, and in-line spectrophotometers designed for the unique needs of the food industry. We also provide specialized accessories, such as small path length cells to facilitate accurate measurement of very dark chromatic samples like soy sauce, which may be unsuitable for larger path lengths. Contact us to learn more about our renowned products and world-class customer service and let us help you select the right tools for your color measurement needs.

  1. “Do You Know Your Soy Sauces?”, http://www.seriouseats.com/2011/03/do-you-know-your-soy-sauces-japanese-chinese-indonesian-differences.html
  2. “Taking the Measure of Soy Sauces, to Compare the Tastes,” February 16, 1994, http://www.nytimes.com/1994/02/16/garden/taking-the-measure-of-soy-sauces-to-compare-the-tastes.html
  3. “Global Soy Sauce Market: Trends & Opportunities (2015-2019), September 24, 2015, http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/global-soy-sauce-market-trends–opportunities-2015-2019-300148925.html
  4. “Features of Kikkoman Soy Sauce”, http://www.kikkoman.eu/consumer/kikkoman-quality/quality-of-soy-sauce/features-of-kikkoman-soy-sauce/
  5. “Basics: Japanese Soy Sauce: All You Need to Know (And Then Some)”, August 2012, http://justhungry.com/handbook/just-hungry-handbooks/basics-japanese-soy-sauce-all-you-need-know
  6. “The Draft of the Revised Quality Labelling Standard of Soy Sauce (Shoyu), http://www.inmetro.gov.br/barreirastecnicas/pontofocal/..%5Cpontofocal%5Ctextos%5Cregulamentos%5CJPN_106.doc\

Spectrophotometers Facilitate Color Harmony in Car Interiors

color harmony car interior
Creating color harmony in car interiors is essential to optimizing aesthetic appeal. Image Source: Unsplash user Sean DuBois

In today’s rapidly evolving automotive industry, consumers are given options few ever dreamed of only a few years ago. Cars are now the sites of some of the most innovative technologies available. They are bringing performance and safety to extraordinary new heights and even transforming what we imagine cars to be. While we marvel at unprecedented performance and are comforted by advances in safety, aesthetics remain a critical component of automotive appeal. In fact, a 2014 study by AutoTrader on how consumers choose new cars found that it was “appearance more than anything else that appealed to participants.”1

Color harmony in car interiors may not be the first thing consumers think of when considering the aesthetic appeal. In fact, interior color matching is largely taken for granted precisely because car manufacturers have become so successful at achieving it. But when interior car components don’t match, consumers notice. Not only does this disrupt aesthetic appeal, it can also call into question the overall quality of the car; if a manufacturer has failed to get the basics right, what else have they missed? As such, it is imperative to seek out the best possible color measurement tools to ensure accurate color matching.

color harmony car interior
With hundreds of parts manufactured around the globe, ensuring color harmony can be challenging. Image Source: Unsplash user Nathan Lindahl

The Challenges of Color Harmony in Car Interiors

Creating color harmony in car interiors may be a fundamental building block in the manufacturing process, but it isn’t easy. A car interior is made up of hundreds of different parts that must co-exist in an aesthetically pleasing fashion and any one of which is vulnerable to unwanted color variation. These parts are also comprised of a wide variety of different materials, from smooth, glossy plastics to textured leathers to smooth wood, all of which has its own unique geometric properties that impact how color is experienced. Because components sit right alongside each other within cars, color mismatch quickly becomes evident.

Another major challenge to ensuring color harmony is the nature of the modern car industry itself. “The rapid globalization of industrial supply chains has created an urgent need to efficiently qualify materials at a variety of manufacturing sites across the world,” says Diane Geisler.

For example, a car may receive its headliner from a plant in Mexico, the leather trim for the seat from Turkey and the vinyl for the dashboard from the United States. All of these components must have the same color appearance to achieve the interior harmony intended by the designer and valued by the consumer.2  

Relying on visual assessment to determine color harmony is never an adequate color quality control method owing to its inherent variation. As noted in Plastics, visual assessment is “extremely subjective, as color vision deficiencies, mood, lighting, or even social pressure can affect perceptions of whether a color is acceptable or not.”3 And in global supply chains, where color information must be communicated across operators and manufacturing sites, reliance on visual assessment is simply impossible.

color harmony car interior
Spectrophotometers offer the best solution for the color measurement challenges inherent in today’s automotive industry. Image Source: Flickr user Land Rover MENA

Instrumental Solutions for Creating Color Harmony

In light of the challenges inherent to creating color harmony in car interiors, integrating objective color measurement throughout production is essential to ensuring correct and consistent coloration. Ken Phillips, market development manager at HunterLab, explains, “Color measurement is an aspect of quality assurance and quality control used to detect the presence or absence of color, to quantify a product’s color in ‘color space,’ and to compare a product color to that of a known standard for ‘pass/fail’ purposes during incoming raw material QC and during production.”

While modern cars are technological marvels in themselves, automotive color measurement requires the use of some of the most advanced technologies available to ensure accurate color matching. Spectrophotometers offer the highest level of quality control for truly objective color measurement. The sophisticated optical geometries of these instruments allow you to capture both color and appearance data to monitor overall color harmony even in the presence of vastly different materials. The data obtained by spectrophotometric analysis provides a universal language that makes it possible to create color standards, monitor color behavior, and communicate color information across sites, operators, and materials.

Spectrophotometric data, however, doesn’t just allow you to measure the color of automotive components in isolation; they also give you the information you need to improve the quality and efficiency of your manufacturing process. “In the past, the goal of color measurement was narrow in focus, basically that of understanding the color properties of a particular sample or product and its difference when compared to a standard,” says Phillips.

Today it is about understanding a process that the process can be improved. The ability to collect data at multiple points throughout a workflow, and share that data with an organization or supply chain where it can be acted on is critical in helping companies improve their processes, reduce operating costs, improve efficiencies, and improve stakeholder and shareholder value.

In other words, spectrophotometers give you the data you need to analyze your manufacturing process around the globe to find areas of vulnerability and take corrective action. In an economic environment that requires increased agility, flexibility, and efficiency, this is essential for minimizing waste while enhancing overall quality.

HunterLab Innovation

HunterLab has been a leader in the field of color measurement for over 60 years. Today we offer a comprehensive line-up of portable, benchtop, and in-line spectrophotometers that has been developed in response to the needs of our customers in the automotive industry. Combined with our customizable software packages, HunterLab instruments offer the highest level of color quality control available today and provide innovative solutions to even the most vexing color measurement challenges. Contact us to learn more about our renowned products and world-class customer support services.

  1. “Desire Trumps Need for Car Buyers: Research”, January 27, 2015, http://www.ctvnews.ca/autos/desire-trumps-need-for-car-buyers-research-1.2207596
  2. “The Future of Color Measurement”, October 2, 2014, http://www.qualitymag.com/articles/92181-the-future-of-color-measurement
  3. “Find the Keys that Drive In-Vehicle Color Harmony”, 2016, http://www.plastics.gl/automotive/find-the-keys-that-drive-in-vehicle-color-harmony/

Measuring the Color Stabilizing Effects of Antimicrobial Textile Treatments

antimicrobial textile
Antimicrobial textile treatments can prevent unsightly discoloration caused by interactions between bacteria and perspiration. Image Source: Unsplash user Michael

Two years ago, the MIT Media Lab’s Tangible Media Group, New Balance, and The Royal College of Art teamed up to do something remarkable; make bacteria attractive. The cohort designed a line of clothing  – called Second Skin – infused with the bacillus subtilis natto bacterium. Wired Magazine explains that the natto bacterium “expand and contract depending on the amount of humidity in the air – the more humidity present, the bigger the bacteria get.”1 This expansion opens up air vents within the clothing, allowing for increased breathability as the wearer becomes active and perspires. “By printing natto cells onto a biofilm, then printing that biofilm onto spandex fabric, scientists can control exactly how the fabric will behave,” says Anna Green of Mental Floss.2 The result is a lineup of garments as innovative as they are beautiful.

But as forward-thinking as Second Skin is, most microbes found on clothing aren’t quite as useful. In fact, they can be dangerous, as fabrics act as a convenient transportation service for dangerous microbes like Staphylococcus, which can lead to a number of serious illnesses in both humans and animals. But even benign living organisms found on textiles can have undesirable effects like unsightly discoloration, including underarm yellowing and the infamous ring-around-the-collar. As such, a growing number of clothing manufacturers are now introducing antimicrobial treatments to their textiles, minimizing or eliminating bacterial proliferation. Spectrophotometers are playing a vital role in the development of these new antimicrobial technologies, helping to protect health and safety while minimizing unwanted color shifts.

antimicrobial textile
Antimicrobial textile treatments are particularly valuable for the healthcare environments to protect health and safety. Image Source: Pexels user Pixabay

The Growth of Antimicrobial Textile Treatments

The interactions between bacteria, textiles, and the human body can lead to unappealing discoloration in all types of fabrics and garments. While antimicrobial treatments are particularly valuable in healthcare environments, even everyday consumers stand to benefit from improved antimicrobial technologies. This is especially true when it comes to clothing regularly exposed to heat, humidity, and perspiration. “Sweat is normally colorless but might turn a yellowish color due to interaction with bacteria on your clothing,” explains Katherine Mariaca of Livestrong. 3 As such, athletic apparel, socks, and underwear are often at the forefront of antimicrobial textile innovations. In fact, antimicrobial treatments are now a standard feature in high end sportswear products, as consumers seek higher quality items that will resist undesirable color shifts and odors.

Evaluating the Performance of Antimicrobial Textile Treatment in Use

The majority of antimicrobial textile treatments are solutions applied to fabrics after the dyeing process is complete to “control the growth of microbes by various mechanisms ranging from preventing cell reproduction, blocking of enzymes, reaction with the cell membrane to the destruction of the cell walls and poisoning the cell from within.”4 The minimization or elimination of microbial growth means that there is nothing for perspiration and other environmental factors to interact with in order to cause discoloration, effectively stabilizing textile color and extending the life of the garment. These treatments must be safe and durable, standing up to washing, drying, and everyday wear without disrupting aesthetic quality.

While measuring the number and kind of microbes found in antimicrobial textiles is the primary mode of efficacy investigation, a separate evaluation process must occur to determine the color stabilization effects of antimicrobial treatments. Spectrophotometers are ideal instruments for this evaluation process, owing to their ability to accurately capture color data of all fabric types using objective parameters that go beyond the unreliable human eye. By spectrophotometrically measuring the color of the textile after exposure to environmental stressors such as heat, humidity, perspiration, and laundering and comparing it to a baseline measurement, you can identify and quantify color shifts. This information can then be used to fine-tune formulations and optimize color stabilizing effects.

antimicrobial textile
Antimicrobial textile treatments can cause undesirable color shifts, particularly yellowing in white and light-colored fabrics. Image Source: Pexels user jumbopic.com

Evaluating the Effects of Antimicrobial Treatments on New Textiles

Although the purpose of antimicrobial treatments is partially to prevent discoloration when the garment is in use, they can also cause inherent color shifts upon production, particularly in white and light-colored garments. Silver-based treatments are known for yellowing, for example, compromising aesthetic appeal in individual garments while potentially causing color disharmony within a clothing line. This is especially true when the line is comprised of a number of different fabric types, which may interact with the treatment in different ways.

Spectrophotometers allow you to precisely monitor color behavior caused by the introduction of antimicrobial textile treatments to determine which treatments are best suited for your purposes. Certain types of antimicrobial treatment may require additional stabilizing agents to counteract the yellowing effects of the primary agent. For example, researchers employed a spectrophotometer to determine that chitosan (CS) and montmorillonite-dihydroxy ethylene urea (MDEU) “increased the whiteness index values of cotton fabrics treated with KSF containing different silver concentrations.”5 1,2,3,4-butanetetracarboxylic acid (BTCA) has also been found to prevent color variation in cotton fabrics treated with colloidal nano silver.6 Such findings are invaluable to perfecting treatment processes and creating textiles that perform aesthetically as well as they do functionally. Because spectrophotometers allow you to accurately correlate process variables with color behavior, you can easily tailor formulations to meet your exact requirements.

HunterLab Innovation

HunterLab has been at the forefront of color measurement innovation for over 60 years. Today, we offer a comprehensive lineup of portable, benchtop, and in-line spectrophotometers to suit the unique needs of the textile industry. When combined with our customizable color software packages, our instruments offer the highest level of insight into textile color behavior possible, allowing you to perfect formulations and processes. Contact us to learn more about our renowned technologies and let us help you select the right spectrophotometer for your purposes.

  1. “This Living Clothing Morphs When You Sweat”, October 28, 2015, https://www.wired.com/2015/10/this-living-clothing-morphs-when-you-sweat/
  2. “Living Clothing That Responds To Your Sweat”, October 30, 2015, http://mentalfloss.com/article/70575/living-clothing-responds-your-sweat
  3. “What Are the Causes of Yellow Perspiration?” March 3, 2017, http://www.livestrong.com/article/107724-causes-yellow-perspiration/
  4. “Antimicrobial Performance of Cotton Finished with Triclosan, Silver and Chitosan”, August 27, 2015, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s40691-015-0040-y
  5. “Development of Antimicrobial Cotton Fabric Using Bionanocomposites”, December 2013, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10570-013-0057-6
  6. “Durable Antibacterial and Cross-Linking Cotton with Collodial Silver Nanoparticles and Butane Tetracarboxylic Axid Without Yellowing”, January 2012, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0927776511005388?via%3Dihub

The Evolution of Paint Color Trends and Why Color Measurement Matters

paint color measurement
In the world of paint, vibrant new shades are replacing neutrals. Image Source: Unsplash user William Felker

In the past decade, home design blogs have been a virtual sea of greys, whites, and blacks. But recently, something started changing. From pink walls to deep jewel-toned kitchen cabinetry, color is coming back to the world of home decoration.

If a quick scroll through Apartment Therapy doesn’t convince you, perhaps Sherwin Williams’s National Paint Week Color Psychology Study will. Released earlier this year, the study reveals that a full 58% of Americans “say that more vibrant colors should be used throughout the home rather than just neutral tones.”1 Not only can this move away from neutrals liven up your living space, it can actually affect how you feel. “Homeowners shouldn’t stress when trying new colors, and many will likely find it a worthwhile endeavor,” says Dr. Sally Augustin, a color psychology expert at Design with Science. “Vibrant colors can have positive psychological effects. Emerald greens can be energizing, seeing red can give us a boost of strength, and yellow can provide a sense of warmth.”

Of course, the process of picking a paint color is a little more complicated than that; after all, consumers want colors that look as good as they make them feel, and what looks good is constantly evolving. The paint color trends that were all the rage fifteen years ago now look tired and dull. Meanwhile, we may currently have little interest in the shades we’ll be clamoring for in five years. But there was a time when those taupe walls were the height of sophistication and there will probably be a time when we want nothing more than Pantone’s Color of the Year 2022 on our walls.

paint color measurement
The evolution of paint color trends is driven by both organic and carefully planned processes. Image Source: Pexels user Pixabay

The Evolution of Paint Color Trends

We live in a time when interest in home decoration has reached fever pitch and the latest home fashions can spread across the globe in hours thanks to social media. In this environment, it’s critical for paint manufacturers to stay on top of paint color trends.

So how do these trends develop? The process is both wonderfully organic and carefully planned. One of the greatest influences is the Color Marketing Group (CMG), “a non-profit that helps pick and predict paint colors.”2 Throughout the year, CMG members participate in a series of workshops to discuss the evolution of color trends around the world. They then select a variety of colors they believe will rise in popularity and bestow the title Pantone Color of the Year on the most important hue. As James Bartlett writes in The Los Angeles Times, “politics, pop culture, spots, technology, and social issues can influence the selection of colors.”

The CMG color picks provide vital direction to industries and companies across the globe, helping them choose exciting and marketable hues for their products. And chief among these is the paint industry.

Spectrophotometers allow you to perfect paint formulations. Image Source: Pexels user Tookapic

The Role of Spectrophotometers

For the paint industry, putting color trends into practice isn’t simply a matter of promoting existing shades. Rather, many paint manufacturers develop new color palettes both in response to changing trends and to drive them. This is a critical part of establishing yourself as a leader in the field and staying relevant in a competitive market. But the process of developing new paint colors isn’t as simple as it may seem; it requires a sophisticated understanding of color theory and the use of cutting-edge technologies to create the perfect blends. Perhaps the most important tool available for this process is the spectrophotometer.

Spectrophotometers measure color the way the eye sees it, only better. These instruments are ideal for analyzing the color of pigments, bases, draw downs, and finished products to ensure that each component and stage of the paint creation process  is accounted for. By distilling hues to objective spectral data, operators are able to obtain a precise understanding of color quality and behavior. This data can be used to analyze new hues, identify color matches, determine paint opacity, and perfect formulations.

As each ingredient is added to a mix, the spectrophotometer will monitor how the color is affected and alert you when the paint hits your desired hue, allowing you to develop the ideal recipe. The advanced technology of spectrophotometers means that you are able to capture the precise information you need regardless of geometric attributes like gloss, ensuring that your coloration stays accurate across your full range of finishes.

Once each formula has been perfected, the data set provided by spectrophotometric analysis serves as an instrumental part of ongoing production of both components and finished product. By measuring each batch against the standard, you can quickly determine whether the color falls inside your tolerance range and accept or reject the product. The data can also be used to color match paint chips and promotional materials as well as analyze paints mixed in retail environments. This ensures consistency and allows you to only release the best products into the marketplace. At a time when consumers are on the hunt for very specific shades, this is essential to making sure what they see is what they get.

HunterLab Quality

HunterLab has been a leader in the field of color measurement for over 60 years. Today we offer a comprehensive range of portable, benchtop, and in-line spectrophotometers that can be easily integrated into laboratory, manufacturing, and retail environments. Combined with our customizable software packages, our instruments provide you with the highest level of color quality control available on the market today. Contact us to learn more about our innovative line-up and let us help you develop the next generation of paint colors.

  1. “Americans Say They’re Ready for More Vibrant Colors, But Many May Still Play it Safe With Neutrals”, May 10, 2017, http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/americans-say-theyre-ready-for-more-vibrant-colors-but-many-may-still-play-it-safe-with-neutrals-300455211.html
  2. “How, Exactly”, Does a ‘Color of the Year’ Get Chosen?”, December 2, 2015, http://www.latimes.com/home/la-hm-how-pantone-chose-color-of-the-year-20151202-story.html
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