Measuring the Color of Aloe Vera Gel to Ensure Consistent Quality

Despite the astounding technological growth, when it comes to food consumers are increasingly interested in the benefits of natural products like aloe vera. Image Source: Pexels user Tina Floersch

Over the past two decades, we have witnessed the emergence of technologies that were previously unimaginable. From the rise of the internet to the automation of manufacturing, technology now shapes our world in ways that have fundamentally altered how we function. Both individually and collectively. Yet, while our dependence on high-tech living is greater than ever, we are simultaneously experiencing a new appreciation for natural goods that have stood the test of time. Perhaps nowhere is this truer than in the food industry. In this dialectical environment, traditional plants are increasingly being incorporated into modern edible products. And one of the stars of this movement is aloe vera.

Aloe vera is best known for its topical, sunburn-soothing applications. But, owing to its healing properties, the sticky substance has actually been used in food form for thousands of years. Rich in antioxidants, amino acids, minerals, and essential vitamins, aloe vera is said to regulate metabolic activity, alleviate inflammation, and even prevent diabetes.1 Today, aloe vera is available in a virtually endless array of edible products, from gel capsules to yogurt to the extraordinarily popular aloe vera juices and waters that have taken the world by storm in recent years.2

This enthusiasm for ingestible aloe vera comes at a time when consumers demand not only natural products but natural products of the highest quality. For aloe vera products, this means that manufacturers are now turning to the possibilities of new technologies to enhance their products both functionally and aesthetically. In order to evaluate the effects of these technologies on the sensory properties of aloe vera products, measuring the color of aloe vera gel has become a critical part of the assessment process.

Aloe Vera drink
Incorporation of aloe vera gel in a range of new edible products is spurring researchers to develop new technologies that will preserve the plant’s functional and sensory properties. Image Source: Flickr user Health Gauge

 

Incorporating New Technologies in Aloe Vera Gel Processing

To allow raw aloe vera to be transformed into a safe consumable product with a stable shelf-life, it must first undergo processing. Often of the side-effect of processing is the removal of the very properties for which aloe vera is renowned. Heating, dehydration, and grinding may all leave the aloe vera products with minimal or no active ingredients. As such, there is now growing interest in using our advanced technologies to develop new processing methods that will preserve its beneficial properties while giving consumers the sensory experience they have come to know.

 

One of the most promising technologies available to date is high hydrostatic pressure (HHP). According to a cohort of researchers led by Karina Di Scala, HHP “optimizes the intake of nutritive phytochemicals in human food” and makes it “possible to obtain safe and wholesome food that maintains all sensory qualities.”3 In contrast to heat-based processing methods, HHP minimizes the risk of thermal damage, allows for improved flavor and texture, and can be performed more rapidly. However, one of the most striking benefits of HHP is the possibility of color retention.

 

Measuring the Color of Aloe Vera Gel

The color of aloe vera gel is one of its most significant sensory components, signaling freshness and suggesting the taste. Even slight deviations from consumers’ color expectations can have a drastic impact on how aloe vera products are perceived and experienced. Due to the vital role of color, the researchers determined that color retention must be an integral part any assessment of HHP technology.

In order to measure the effect of HHP on aloe vera gel color, Di Scala et al. employed a HunterLab MiniScan spectrophotometer to collect objective color data. As they note, “Color as a sensory characteristic is best evaluated through the determination of color difference, a quantity that expresses color variation with respect to a reference value.” By measuring the color of samples processed at various settings and comparing them to a standard based on untreated control samples, the researchers were able to determine an optimal pressure range (150 to 250 MPa). Combined with investigation into HHP’s impact on antioxidant capacity, phenolic content, firmness, and rehydration ratio, “these results showed that HHP technology … would be highly beneficial for the production of a high quality ingredient.”

Spectrophotometers offer a simple, rapid, and economical way to monitor color at every stage of the manufacturing process. Image Source: Pexels user Pixabay

 

The Value of Spectrophotometers

Spectrophotometers are a critical part of evaluating emerging technologies as we seek to create better processing methods for aloe vera and optimize the health benefits of this remarkable substance. However, the value of spectrophotometers goes much further; these instruments can be easily integrated into the manufacturing processes itself to ensure accurate coloration at every stage and continuously monitor the impact of process variables on the production line. By giving you real-time feedback on aloe vera gel appearance, you can instantly be alerted to an undesirable color variation that compromises the quality of your product. This allows you to ensure that only the best products are released into the marketplace, helping you both enhance public perception of your brand and minimize the economic costs associated with a faulty product. At a time when consumers demand the highest quality, this can be pivotal for your business and solidify your place in an increasingly competitive market.

HunterLab Innovation

HunterLab has been at the forefront of color measurement technology for over 60 years. Today, we offer a comprehensive range of cutting-edge spectrophotometric instruments to help our consumers in the food industry create the best possible products for a new generation of discriminating consumers. With a full lineup of portable, benchtop, and in-line spectrophotometers to choose from, we have the tools you need to rapidly assess color quality at any stage of the research or manufacturing process. Contact us to learn more about our renowned instruments, customizable software packages, and world-class customer support services.

 

 

  1. “What Are the Benefits of Eating Aloe Vera?”, June 23, 2015, http://www.livestrong.com/article/245440-what-are-the-benefits-of-eating-aloe-vera/
  2. “Why Is Everyone Suddenly Drinking Aloe Juice?”, February 10, 2015, http://www.prevention.com/beauty/aloe-juice-benefits
  3. “Chemical and Physical Properties of Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis Miller) Gel Stored After High Hydrostatic Pressure Processing”, February 20, 2013, http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0101-20612013000100009

Why Measuring the Color of Vanilla Ice Cream Matters Now More Than Ever

ice cream cone
As the ice cream market becomes more competitive and specialized than ever before, spectrophotometric color measurement is becoming increasingly critical to monitor appearance and quality. Image Source: Pexels user Pixabay

 

Summer is a time for lazy days at the beach, backyard barbecue parties, and chasing fireflies into the evening. It’s also the time for ice cream. Whether lured by the familiar sound of the neighborhood ice cream truck or drawn in by a new wave of socially conscious ice cream shops, we flock toward these frozen treats in massive numbers1. According to Fortune, Americans spent over $13 billion on ice cream in 2013, “not including restaurant sales,” and the average consumer will eat ice cream almost 22 pounds of ice cream each year2. Despite the explosion of the frozen yogurt market, ice cream sales still outnumber frozen yogurt sales by a factor of 24 to 1. What’s more, ice cream sales have shot up in recent years in countries like Turkey, Brazil, and China, adding to what is currently a $78 billion global business.

 

However, the ice cream market is changing. As the public has become both more health conscious and more interested in food sourcing and quality, ice cream manufacturers have had to re-evaluate their production and marketing strategies. For some, this has meant moving toward more natural ingredients, devoid of the artificial colors and flavors many major ice cream producers have relied on for years. For others, it has opened the door to ice cream manufacturing for the first time, giving creameries the opportunity to enter the burgeoning premium ice cream market. In cities like Los Angeles and New York, people are lining up around the block to sample novel flavors like sticky rice and mango or labneh with pistachio and candied orange offered by artisanal shops3.

 

But despite the introduction of virtually limitless new and novel flavors, the most popular ice cream variety remains vanilla. According to the International Ice Cream Association, vanilla ice cream is preferred by 29% of consumers, with chocolate coming in second place at a mere 8.9%4. With the transformations occurring within the world of ice cream, however, vanilla can no longer simply be, well, vanilla. Rising consumer demand for high quality products is forcing both long-time players and newcomers to raise the bar and perfect their vanilla ice creams. With the stakes higher than ever, spectrophotometric color measurement is now becoming an increasingly critical part of the manufacturing process.

 

vanilla
The color of vanilla ice cream is affected by a range of process variables, including whether real vanilla or synthetic vanillin is used in the manufacturing process. Image Source: Flickr user Joy

 

Why the Color of Vanilla Ice Cream Matters

 

Color is a vital aspect of any food; research has confirmed again and again that what we see deeply affects how we experience foods and can make or break a particular food product. This may be particularly true of food “basics”, like vanilla ice cream. Consumers have specific expectations of what vanilla ice cream looks like and while there may be a range of acceptable colors, a product that falls outside of that range can turn off customers simply due to appearance.

 

Part of this is logical; the color of vanilla ice cream reflects its ingredients and we may reasonably expect a yellowish creamy variety to taste different than a pale white vanilla ice cream. The color of ice cream flavored using natural vanilla is typically different than that flavored using vanillin, for example. The other part, however, is sentimental. “Ice cream is about sense memory,” says Michael Palmer, owner of McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams, a Santa Monica-based creamery with a number of popular Los Angeles-area outposts5. “Everybody has a story, a memory about ice cream.” Part of that sense memory is aesthetic; you want vanilla ice cream to look a certain way because you remember it looking that way in the past, regardless of whether appearance is directly correlated to the flavor. Because, ultimately, it is not just the taste, but the experience of ice cream consumers are seeking. And that experience begins with sight.

 

Spectrophotometers are ideally suited to measure the color of vanilla ice cream to ensure the highest level of quality in every batch. Image Source: Pexels user Madeline Tallmann

 

Measuring the Color of Ice Cream

 

The ideal color of vanilla ice cream is subjective and will vary according to each manufacturer’s process and preferences. Creating and reproducing that color, however, requires objective analytical tools. This is particularly true when working with pale shades that can be particularly susceptible to the impact of ambient light and other environmental interferences. Additionally, the nature of ice cream itself presents unique challenges for accurately assessing color. As Rachael Stothard writes:

 

The physical characteristics of ice cream do make it hard to measure consistently; it would be detrimental to alter the production process to attempt to attain a sample of the frozen finished product and most measurements would be taken in a warm laboratory meaning the sample would be changing consistency as it melts. Therefore, when talking of measuring the color of ice cream, it is not the frozen matter being measured but rather the liquid substance that gives ice cream its desired color.6

 

Spectrophotometers are ideally suited to measure the color of ice cream via sophisticated optical geometries that allow you to accurately capture reflectance values over the visible spectrum.

 

Ice cream samples should preferably be poured or pipetted in circular, glass cups that fit flush against the sample area and allows the liquid “to be distributed evenly for measurements. Plastic cups may be used in environments with a high risk of breakage, although plastic’s susceptibility to scratching could compromise measurement accuracy. To enhance the reliability of results, each sample should either be covered by an opaque cover or backed by a white backing tile depending on your preference. One sample from a batch, however, is not enough. Rather, multiple measurements should be taken of each sample and multiple samples should be analyzed from each batch. Sample averaging will allow you to achieve the greatest insight into the color behavior of each batch, optimizing accuracy.

 

The Benefits of Color Measurement

 

Measuring the color of vanilla ice cream has multiple benefits that enhance overall quality and ensure that your product is the best it can be. First, it gives you the data you need to determine the exact shade of white needed for your ice cream. During the product development process, spectrophotometric analysis allows you to determine the impact of each variable on color and gives you the opportunity to tailor your manufacturing process to create your standard and tolerance range. Once in production, spectrophotometers allow you to monitor your ice creams by automatically alerting you when a batch falls outside of your desired tolerance. When this happens, you have the opportunity to halt production to determine the cause of the variation, minimizing product waste and making it possible to quarantine faulty product.

 

In today’s competitive environment, the ability to tailor the appearance of your vanilla ice cream to your exact specifications and consistently reproduce that color in each batch can be imperative to attracting discerning consumers. At the same time, the ability to prevent the release of a faulty product while minimizing material and labor waste has real economic benefits. As such, investment in a spectrophotometric instrument can pay for itself many times over during the course of its life.

 

HunterLab Quality

 

HunterLab has been on the cutting edge of color measurement technology for over 60 years. Today, we offer the most advanced spectrophotometers and accessories available to suit the needs of both large and small ice cream producers. With versatile, user-friendly designs, our instruments are easily integrated into any manufacturing environment to give you the highest level of quality control at any stage of your process. Contact us to learn more about our renowned range of products and let us help you select the right instrument for your needs.

  1. “Ice Cream With A Side of Social Justice Has Arrived in Times Square”, May 24, 2017, http://gothamist.com/2017/05/24/ice_and_vice_times_square.php#photo-1
  2. “Do We Still Scream for Ice Cream?” July 24, 2014, http://fortune.com/2014/07/24/ice-cream-sales/
  3. “You Scream, I Scream … At the Price of Ice Cream”, August 3, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/04/dining/04icecream.html
  4. “The Top 15 Most Popular Ice Cream Flavors”, July 30, 2008, http://www.foodchannel.com/articles/article/the-top-15-most-popular-ice-cream-flavors/
  5. “Artisanal Ice Cream Is Taking Over L.A.”, http://www.foodandwine.com/blogs/new-ice-cream-shops-create-freezing-frenzy-in-la
  6. “How to Measure the Color of Ice Cream”, January 16, 2015, http://mail.colourmeasure.com/knowledge-base/2015-01-16-how-to-measure-the-colour-of-ice-cream

Spectrophotometric Evaluation of Honey Color Helps Boost Appeal

The color of honey can have a significant impact on consumer perception. | Image Source: Unsplash user Sonja Langford

It’s not often that the intrigue and specter of criminal activity enter the honey world. However, when it comes to manuka honey, it’s a different story. Manuka honey, derived from the manuka tree, is one of the rarest and valuable kinds of honey in the world. Renowned for its touted medicinal properties and rich, complex flavor, manuka honey fetches significantly higher prices than standard honey, spurring the emergence of a global counterfeiting industry.

 

Approximately 1,700 tons of manuka honey are produced annually in New Zealand, “representing almost all the world’s production.” Yet 10,000 tons of honey product labeled as manuka is being sold each year around the world, with 1,800 of those tons sold in the UK alone.1 The problem has become so widespread that specialized testing methodologies have now been developed to differentiate between true manuka honey and counterfeit or adulterated versions.2 These authentication methods have the potential to save the honey industry (and consumers) millions of dollars each year. But until global implementation of such testing is realized, large-scale counterfeiting is likely to continue.

 

The primary way manuka consumers seek to identify manuka honey is by color. The product is known for its creamy to dark brown hues, hinting at its strong, distinctive flavor. As such, replicating this color is imperative to passing off counterfeits as the real deal. This may be done using a variety of methods, including adding syrups or other colorants to lighter kinds of honey to approximate the distinctive appearance of manuka. It is perhaps the strongest example of how valuable honey color can be and why color standards matter.

 

 

A Matter of Color

 

Manuka honey is not the only honey customers primarily evaluate based on color. In fact, honey color is perhaps the most important variable in guiding consumer choices, as it ostensibly hints at the flavor one can expect from the product. As Aubert and Gonnet wrote as early as 1986, “A very dark-colored honey is suggestively associated with a very flavored product, while a light-colored honey suggests more subtle and refined fragrances.”3 However, these assumptions are not always consistent. Indeed, “The link between the color and flavor of honey is often accidental.”

 

Despite the accidental nature of this link, consumers tend to have strong preferences when it comes to honey color. These are the result of both individual and cultural tastes. For example, American consumers tend to prefer lighter colored honeys while German, Swiss, and Austrians often prefer darker varieties.4 This, however, may be changing with the emergence of artisanal honeys and increased interest in rare and novel food products.5 Additionally, while color is not a perfect predictor of flavor, it can be an important indictor of quality. Color that deviates from expectations may indicate the intentional or unintentional addition of additives, processing errors, or contamination.

 

Honey can range from the palest white to rich amber. | Image Source: Pexels user Pixabay

The Honey Color Scale

 

In order to evaluate honey color in a standardized way, the USDA has developed a specialized classification system consisting of seven categories, ranging from water white to dark amber.6 This color scale is used across the industry to help producers determine whether their honey is meeting aesthetic expectations as well as allowing for meaningful comparisons between product appearances. While honey color does not factor into USDA quality grading, it is an important tool for honey producers as they seek to create aesthetically desirable products that meet the demands of today’s consumers.

 

Traditionally, the color of honey has been evaluated using a Pfund color grader, a glass wedge whose color ranges from light to dark. “The honey is placed in a wedge-shaped container and compared to the scale, and the place where the color matches is measured from one end of the wedge.”7 Today, a number of companies offer their own color grading apparatuses that also rely on visual comparison of honey to color samples. These methods are inherently subjective, as factors such as ambient light, perceptual differences between observers, and even slight color variations in color grading equipment can interfere with an accurate assessment.

honey in jars
Customers in different geographic locations have different honey preferences. Image Credit: Flickr User Jason Reidy

 

Toward Objective Honey Color Analysis

 

In order to overcome the challenges posed by visual inspection, an increasing number of honey producers are turning to spectrophotometric analysis. These high-tech instruments allow you to capture objective color information to accurately determine a product’s place on the honey color scale. Additionally, this precise data may be used to ensure batch-to-batch consistency, guaranteeing that each product is of similar quality.

 

The versatile optical geometries of spectrophotometers mean that they are capable of analyzing the appearance of both liquid and solid kinds of honey. Additionally, the ability to capture both transmitted and reflected color means that spectrophotometric instrumentation makes it possible to analyze a full product range at every step of manufacturing with the same instrument. As Rachel Stothard writes, “Having a machine that can accommodate both measurements means quality analysis can be as versatile as the product.”[“How to Measure the Color of Honey”, July 16, 2015, http://www.colourmeasure.com/knowledge-base/2015-07-16-how-to-measure-the-colour-of-honey]

 

But spectrophotometers also allow you to go beyond color measurement. In addition to hue, the clarity of honey is one of the primary determinants of both visual appeal and product quality. In fact, clarity accounts for 10% of the USDA’s quality rating of filtered honey. The current classification system is based on “the apparent transparency or clearness of honey to the eye and to the degree of freedom from air bubbles, pollen grains, or other fine particles of any materials suspected in the product.” By integrating haze measurement in honey quality assessment, producers can easily determine product clarity. This information can be invaluable in identifying problematic process variables as well as evaluating new process variables as you seek to improve clarity. Today’s sophisticated spectrophotometers allow you to capture both haze and color measurement with a single instrument and even with a single measurement.

 

HunterLab Quality

 

HunterLab has been a pioneer in the field of color measurement for over 60 years. Today, we offer a comprehensive range of fine spectrophotometric instruments designed to help our customers obtain the critical data they need to evaluate the quality of their products and optimize consumer appeal. Our analytical tools provide simple and accurate methods for determining honey color and haze in a variety of user-friendly formats. Contact us to learn more about our innovative spectrophotometers, customizable software packages, and world-class customer support services and let us help you select the perfect instrument for you.

 

  1. “Food Fraud Buzz Over Fake Manuka Honey”, August 26, 2013, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/food-fraud-buzz-over-fake-manuka-honey/news-story/e58d5d067d615b20c71bd04864f4397c
  2. “New Tests Confirm New Zealand Manuka Honey is For Real”, May 16, 2017, http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/92636284/new-tests-confirm-new-zealand-manuka-honey-is-for-real
  3. “Color Grading of Honey”, 1986, http://www.fiitea.org/foundation/files/1986/S.%20AUBERT,%20M.%20GONNET.pdf
  4. “Honey Color Facts: Plus Our Favorite Honey”, December 2, 2013, http://besthoneysite.com/honey-color/
  5. “Marketers Wax Enthusiastic Over Bees and Honey”, October 15, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/16/business/media/marketers-wax-enthusiastic-over-bees-and-honey.html
  6. “United States Standards for Grades of Extracted Honey”, May 23, 1985, http://www.honey.com/images/downloads/exhoney.pdf
  7. “The Color of Honey”, June 22, 2010, https://honeybeesuite.com/the-color-of-honey/

Measuring Color and Haze in Liquid Pharmaceuticals Protects Patient Health

 

The color of liquid medications can have a big impact on how patients perceive, experience, and take medications. | Image Source: Pexels user Pixabay

Last winter, in the midst of my worst cold of the season, color-coded mediation led me astray. Dazed, I reached into my medicine cabinet and popped a blue liquid-filled capsule out of its packaging, ready to get some symptom relief and finally be able to rest. But that’s not what happened. Rather than falling into a deep sleep, I felt jittery with unwanted energy and paced around my house in the early hours of the morning, unable to stay still. Sure, my cold symptoms were held at bay, but what I needed was rest. Confused, I returned to the medicine cabinet and took a closer look at the box of cold medicine. It was then that I saw the blue capsules were for daytime while the pale yellow capsules were for nighttime, the polar opposite of my feverish assumptions. That sleepless night made me appreciate the value of logical and correct medication color more than ever before.

 

Since the 1970s, pharmaceutical companies have increasingly recognized the value of color in medications. | Image Source: Pexels user freestocks.org

The Value of Color in Pharmaceuticals

 

Until the mid-20th century, virtually all pill pharmaceuticals were white and all liquid pharmaceuticals were clear.1 But in 1975, the introduction of soft gel capsule technology made it possible to produce vibrantly colored medications for the first time and the idea took off. Today, pharmaceuticals, particularly liquid forms, come in an endless array of hues.

 

This emergence of pharmaceutical color isn’t just about arbitrary aesthetics. The color of medication matters and it matters in multiple ways:

 

Shaping Patient Perception

The color of medication can have a significant impact on the expectations consumers have regarding efficacy and performance. A 2015 study published in Food Quality and Preference found that white headache medications were perceived as the most effective by respondents, while light green medications were assumed to be the least effective. Respondents also reported that they perceived red and light red pills to be the most stimulating and they expected light blue pills to have the most pleasing taste. Some also reported that they expected red and blue pills to be harder to swallow than pills of other colors.2 As such, pharmaceutical companies are increasingly interested in creating medications that enhance consumer perception through the creative use of color.

 

Shaping Patient Experience

Not only does the color of medication affect people’s expectations, it also affects what they actually experience. As Jill Morton of Color Matters notes, “Patients respond best when color corresponds with the intended results of the medication.” For example, blue sleep medications help people achieve better quality sleep than medications of other colors, even if the ingredients are identical. Thoughtful selection of medication color as it relates to each specific medication is, therefore, paramount to optimize efficacy and create the best possible user experiences.

 

Promoting Adherence

Colors can act as visual shortcuts to identifying pharmaceuticals, helping people who have difficulties reading labels or who are dealing with multiple medications easily pick out a particular medication on sight. As the population ages and comes to depend on a growing number of daily medications, pharmaceutical companies are increasingly implementing color-coding strategies in both packaging and in the design of the drugs themselves to facilitate adherence and minimize medication errors. Researchers have also found that maintaining consistency between brand name and generic medications is critical to decreasing rates of discontinuation, putting new pressure on manufacturers of generic drugs to prioritize the aesthetics of their products.[3. If Color or Shape of Generic Pills Changes, Patients May Stop Taking Them,” July 14, 2014, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/if-color-or-shape-changes-patients-more-likely-to-stop-taking-much-needed-drugs/2014/07/14/60e687f4-0b8c-11e4-8341-b8072b1e7348_story.html ]

 

syringe with blue liquid
HunterLab’s Vista allows for simultaneous color and haze measurement, simplifying quality control procedures. | Image Source: Flickr user Sean Michael Ragan

 

Simultaneous Color and Haze Measurement

 

Liquid medications present opportunities for rich colors that enhance patient perception, experience, and adherence in ways we could not have imagined a century ago. The important roles served by these colors mean that color monitoring must be a critical component of quality control efforts throughout the manufacturing process. Spectrophotometric color measurement offers the best way of analyzing color behavior at all points of production quickly and easily. By capturing objective color data and instantly alerting you to unwanted color variation, you can ensure that only correctly colored pharmaceuticals are released into the marketplace. As a growing number of consumers come to rely on color-coding, this is essential for protecting public health and preventing medication errors as well as fortifying brand image.

 

But color is only part of the equation when it comes to liquid pharmaceuticals. Monitoring turbidity, or haze, is critical for creating medications with correct formulations and desirable physical attributes. Not only can the presence of haze point to a potentially dangerous process error such as incomplete dissolution, it can also compromise consumer confidence and cause confusion for those who rely on visual identification. As such, haze measurement is an essential part of quality control protocols. Today, advances in spectrophotometric technology allow color and haze to be analyzed together in a single measurement using revolutionary instruments such as HunterLab’s Vista. By measuring color and haze simultaneously, you can avoid time-consuming double measurements and reduce product waste. This is particularly important for those working with highly valuable, rare, or potentially hazardous materials, helping you minimize the number of samples necessary for accurate analysis and limit operator exposure to potent chemicals.

 

HunterLab Quality
HunterLab has been a leader in the field of spectrophotometry for over 60 years. Our renowned line of products has been developed in response to the needs of our customers in the pharmaceutical industry, helping us ensure that our technologies can be readily integrated into your quality control program. With the release of the HunterLab Vista, we are entering a new era of liquid color and haze measurement, opening up the door to more rapid, simple, and economical analysis. In doing so, we expand your ability to make innovative use of pharmaceutical color while safeguarding consumer health. Contact us to learn more about our comprehensive range of spectrophotometers, customizable software packages, and world-class customer support services.

  1. “The Color of Medications”, http://www.colormatters.com/color-symbolism/the-color-of-medications
  2. “Assessing the Expectations Associated with Pharmaceutical Pill Colour and Shape”, June 2015, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S095032931500138X

Spectrophotometric Monitoring of Color Consistency Solidifies Brand Identity

camera
Choosing the right color palette for your brand can be vita l to your success. Image Source: Flickr user peace6x

 

Color is all around us. It is part of virtually everything we see, informing our experiences day in and day out in. And on January 20, 2017, the politicians in Washington D.C. wanted to inform your experience of them. Trump in his red tie, Obama with his in blue, Hillary, Ivanka, and Tiffany in white, Michelle in crimson, and, of course, Melania in her sky blue. These colors weren’t accidents, but deliberate choices driven in part by the desire to shape public perception using color psychology.

 

“Colors and brands are very important [for all politicians],” says Dr. Dong Shen, professor of Fashion Merchandising and Design at California State University.1 Shen explains that the inaugural color choices, particularly for the women, were designed to tap into our shared sense of meaning, one that goes beyond red for Republican, blue for Democrat. Melania’s blue, she believes, symbolizes loyalty and trust, while Michelle’s red reflects fire, passion, and sensitivity, although her choice of a more subdued crimson shade signals that she is no longer center stage. Purity was the message sent by Ivanka and Tiffany’s whites while Hillary’s was one of healing. Through their respective shades, these women invited us to see them in particular ways, introducing (or re-introducing) us to their “brands” and sending us messages about their values and identities.

 

Clothing, however, can be changed. If you make a misstep you can just try something new next time. Choosing the right color to introduce a product brand is a far more complex operation, which is why companies go to great lengths to select appropriate color palettes for their brands. “Color is one of the biggest factors that marketers and designers take into account,” says Rose Leadem of Entrepreneur. 2 Color allows you to speak for your product without saying a word, offering a way of instantly “conveying meaning and message” to connect to consumers on a deeply visceral level.3 And deploying color psychology is no easy task; as Leadem explains, “Perception of color can change based on a person’s age, gender, personality, income, and other factors, which means marketers must understand who their target audience is and how they wish the brand to be perceived.” This often means countless hours of research, design work, and testing in order to come up with the right shades.

 

But choosing the perfect color palette for your brand is only the first step. The colors chosen must be reproduced exactly again and again in order to create a cohesive brand identity and fortify that identity through repeated exposure to consumers. Spectrophotometric color measurement is a vital part of that process, ensuring perfect color matching regardless of the material with which you are working.

 

The Importance of Reproduction

 

Color is widely recognized as the most important aspect of a product’s branding materials, as it is the one that is most readily remembered by consumers and instrumental in guiding consumer perception. Iconic brands have perfected this art by creating a strong color scheme. They do this by exposing the public to that scheme again and again and again, until the colors and brands become interchangeable. McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Tiffany & Co. have all been wildly successful in this endeavor and can be identified based on color alone in the same way we can identify a Louboutin shoe by its red sole. The colors themselves have become icons, standing in for the brand as a whole – it’s not just red, it’s Coca-Cola red. It’s not just robin’s egg blue, it’s Tiffany blue. Recognizability, then, depends on exact color reproduction to cement the relationship between the product and color in the minds of both current and potential customers. In order to strengthen that connection and encourage instant identification, your chosen shade must be represented each and every time the consumer encounters your product regardless of what form that encounter takes, whether it’s on product labeling and packaging, advertising, or signage.

 

coke bottles
Spectrophotometric color measurements gives you the highest level of insight into color behavior, allowing you to match color and appearance in disparate media. Image Source: Flickr user SoxFanInSD

 

Creating Color Consistency

 

Historically, color consistency has primarily been evaluated via visual inspection. However, the human eye is inherently a subjective evaluator, prone to inaccuracies that compromise the ability to maintain truly consistent color. Spectrophotometers, however, offer a sophisticated, objective way of capturing color information without the vulnerabilities inherent to the human eye. As such, companies across industries rely on spectrophotometric instrumentation to monitor color behavior throughout the production process, ensuring batch-to-batch and lot-to-lot consistency.

 

But what is truly remarkable about spectrophotometers for the purpose of branding isn’t just that they measure color in one type of material. Rather, spectrophotometers are capable of measuring color and appearance in all material forms, allowing you to create color consistency across media with disparate optical properties. From flat, matte papers to translucent plastic films, spectrophotometers offer a range of optical geometries to ensure you have the ability to analyze color quality and product appearance across your entire product line and throughout your packaging and marketing materials. Sophisticated software packages like Easymatch QC facilitate this process, giving you the data you need to produce exact color matches and instantly alerting you to unwanted variations. As a result, you are easily able to quarantine any defective product that may compromise your color/brand strategy and prevent its release into the marketplace.

 

The HunterLab Difference

 

HunterLab has been a pioneer in the field of color measurement for over 60 years. Throughout that time, our advanced technologies have helped our customers create and solidify their brand identities through smart and consistent use of color. Today, we offer a comprehensive range of spectrophotometers capable of analyzing virtually any material performing in even the most challenging conditions. Contact us to learn more about our renowned instruments, customizable software packages, and world-class customer support services.

 

  1. “The Color Psychology Behind Inauguration Fashion”, January 21, 2017, http://www.abc10.com/news/local/the-psychology-behind-behind-inauguration-fashion/389407249
  2. “The Role of Color in Branding”, December 10, 2016, https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/286324
  3. “Color & Branding”, 2012, https://www.colormatters.com/color-and-marketing/color-and-branding

Loose Powder Color Measurement: Challenges and Solutions

Holi festival
The Hindu tradition of Holi is also known as the festival of colors owing to the brightly colored powders flung into the air as a celebration of spring. Image Source: Flickr user Steven Gerner

Spring is a time of rebirth and regeneration when color returns to our world vividly after the grays and whites of winter. And perhaps there is no better expression of this than the Hindu celebration of Holi, also known as the festival of colors. A few weeks ago, people around the world, Hindu, and non-Hindu alike, marked the coming of spring in a brilliant display of colorful powders thrown in the air and streaked across revelers. This colored powder is essential to the celebrations, originating with the legend of Krishna who colored his lover’s face to match his own blue skin. Today, four primary powder colors are used during the festival, each representing a unique aspect of the Holi celebration. As the Telegraph explains, “Red reflects love and fertility, blue is the color of Krishna, yellow is the color of turmeric, and green symbolizes spring and new beginnings.”1

 

While traditionally these hues were created using real turmeric, flower extracts, and sandalwood paste. Today, however,  they are largely produced using artificial colorants. This is a controversial practice that has led to health and environmental concerns after reports that hazardous materials were being used in the production of the powders. “Some colors are highly toxic and can even cause cancer,” says Dr. Vikas Goswami, a senior consultant oncologist at Fortis Hospital. “People who handle colors or play Holi often end up complaining about conjunctivitis, visual impairment, asthma, and brutal skin conditions.”2 As a result, a number of commercial powder suppliers have recently returned to more natural, plant-based color sources. In order to promote safer, more eco-friendly products, however, powder suppliers must ensure that their powders accurately reproduce the vivacious colors we have become accustomed to. This is vital in order to allow customers to obtain healthier products without compromising appearance. This requires careful monitoring of color behavior throughout the production process.

 

Reflectance spectrophotometers are ideal instruments for measuring the color of all types of loose powders, regardless of their end use. Using a 45°/0° geometry, these spectrophotometers mimic the way the human eye sees color, only better. Without vulnerability to social, biological, or environmental interferences, spectrophotometric instruments are able to objectively analyze samples for the highest level of accuracy and repeatability. As such, they serve a critical role in the development and production of loose powders across industries, from cosmetics to pharmaceuticals. However, there are a number of special considerations for loose powder color measurement that must be kept in mind during the analytical process.

 

person with colored powder on face
Analyzing loose powder hues comes with unique challenges due to the innate qualities of the powders. Source: Flickr User FaceMePLS

 

The Challenges of Loose Powder Color Measurement

 

Loose powders present unique challenges to the color measurement process as the result of their inherently textured, non-uniform characteristics.  Due to their particulate form, these powders are susceptible to light trapping, shadowing, and ambient light interference, opening the door to inaccurate and inconsistent analysis. As such, it is not possible to measure loose powders as-is. Instead, they must be carefully prepared and “measured through the side of a clear glass sample cell in order to be effectively made into a solid.”  

 

The preparation demands of loose powders make them particularly vulnerable to operator inconsistencies. It is vital to employ the same preparation and measurement techniques each time a sample is analyzed to eliminate variation and ensure batch-to-batch accuracy. To facilitate consistency, choosing a highly accurate yet user-friendly spectrophotometer that minimizes the possibility of human error is imperative. Additionally, some powders may exhibit a degree of fluorescence, making them vulnerable to any UV content in the light source and requiring the use of an instrument with a UV control option.

 

Sample Averaging: A Simple Solution

 

When working with loose powders, sample averaging is often an essential part of the process, allowing you to overcome texture and size variations via simple measurement protocols. Fine powders may allow you to create a smooth, uniform surface within the sample cell capable of being analyzed in a single measurement. However, samples with larger or irregular particles can suffer from shadowing even within the sample cell, compromising the ability of the spectrophotometer to capture accurate color information in a single reading. In these cases, averaging the results of multiple measurements, or sample averaging, can compensate for these particulate qualities. The Stothard Group explains, “Generally speaking, the more measurements taken, the more accurate the representation of the visual characteristics of the sample.”3 You may either “turn the sample between measurements, shaking the sample gently to reposition the particles or discard the sample after measurements and re-fill the sample cup with more of the sample from the same batch.” The exact number of measurements depends on the nature of the powder and your own tolerance.

 

pills opened with powder spilling out
Small samples of loose powders may require special sample cells to ensure accurate measurement. Image Source: Flickr user Kurtis Garbutt

 

Working With Small Samples

 

When working with scarce, hazardous, or expensive powdered materials, minimizing sample size may be preferable or even necessary. However, these conditions also demand highly reliable color measurement to ensure no materials are wasted or used unnecessarily as the result of an inaccurate analysis. Due to the challenges inherent to powders, it is particularly important to choose both a high-quality spectrophotometer and appropriate sample preparation methods. This includes selecting the appropriate sample cell when analyzing small powder samples. HunterLab’s semi-micro powder sample accessory paired with our specialized SAV port plate is the perfect solution for small sample powder measurement. Designed specifically to analyze small quantities, this apparatus allows you to consistently arrange powdered materials in the densities and heights necessary for accurate analysis of samples as small as 0.4cc. This facilitates precise capturing of color data while preserving materials or limiting operator exposure to harmful substances.

 

HunterLab Quality

 

HunterLab has been a leader in the field of color measurement for over 60 years. Our innovative range of spectrophotometers, accessories, and software packages give our customers extraordinary insight and control over their products throughout the manufacturing process, even in the most challenging conditions. Whether you are working with large or small samples, solids, powders, or liquids, we have the tools you need to rapidly capture and analyze color data in a way that makes sense for your organization. Contact us to learn more about our renowned range of spectrophotometers and let us help you select the ideal instrument for your purposes.

 

  1. “What is the Holi Festival and Why is it Celebrated by Throwing Coloured Powder?”, March 13, 2017, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/0/holi-festival-celebrated-throwing-coloured-powder/
  2. “Beware of Toxic Colours This Holi”, March 22, 2016, http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/beware-of-toxic-colours-this-holi/article8382747.ece
  3. “How to Measure the Colour of Powders”, February 9, 2016, http://www.colourmeasure.com/knowledge-base/2016-02-09-how-to-measure-the-colour-of-powders

Simplifying Color and Haze Measurement In Apple Juice

apple and orange juice
As consumers look for healthy alternatives to carbonated soft drinks, apple juice is making a splash. Image Source: Pexels user Jeshoots

 

The fact that soda isn’t the most healthy beverage isn’t news. Historically, sugar content was the quality of soda that consumers considered to be “bad for you” and diet soda was presented as a healthier alternative. Part of this perception was driven by marketing campaigns that playing up their lack of calories. That much-feared word that has become synonymous with weight gain. But in recent years, we have increasingly begun to examine the health impact of diet sodas and, more specifically, the artificial sweeteners they contain. The results have been startling. Last week a study by researchers at George Washington found that sucralose consumption is linked to weight gain; the very phenomenon so many diet soda enthusiasts are seeking to avoid.1

 

So what are health-conscious consumers to do? For a growing number of consumers, fruit juices offer a perfect solution. According to global market intelligence company Transparency Market Research, “the global juice market is [now] the most competitive segment in the beverage industry” and it’s expected to grow significantly in coming years.2 While some juice producers are responding to consumer demand for healthy alternatives to carbonated soft drinks by introducing exotic products, others are introducing organic and low-calorie alternatives to traditional juices. Chief among these is apple juice, an old favorite that is taking on new life in the rapidly changing fruit juice market. In Norway, for example, apple juice sales have nearly doubled in the past 5 years.3

 

But increasing global interest in apple juice doesn’t mean juice producers can rest on their laurels. As demand for healthier beverages has grown, so too has the desire for high quality and aesthetically pleasing products. For apple juice producers, this translates to juices of the right color and clarity, making apple juice color and haze measurement more important than ever before.

 

apple juice in a cup
Preventing enzymatic browning is imperative to preserving the color of fresh apple juice. Image Source: Flick user stvcr

 

Color Stability In Apple Juice

 

Apple juice is a product most of us have grown up on and so ubiquitous that it can typically be identified by appearance alone. The primary component of this identification is color; apple juice is known for its distinctive golden hue. Maintaining that color, however, can be a challenge; the color of apple juice is highly vulnerable to enzymatic browning, particularly in response to stressors such as heat during production, transportation, and storage as well as natural aging. This process doesn’t just result in off-putting aesthetics but may also “adversely affect quality, nutritional value, and safety.”4 In order to minimize these effects, juice producers must implement strict production and handling protocols, such as the use of anti-browning agents and temperature controls, to keep juices looking and tasting fresh.

 

Color measurement is an imperative part of the apple juice production process, both during manufacturing and during testing for longer-term color stability. Spectrophotometric instrumentation offers a simple yet sophisticated way to accurately analyze apple juice via transmission color measurement at any point during the production process to ensure that juices are behaving as expected. This technology may also be employed to evaluate the impact of a new process variable that may affect juice color, including heat treatments, ultra-high pressure homogenization, and anti-oxidation additives.5 For thorough end-to-end quality control, you may wish to analyze color behavior over time by approximating production to consumption chains, giving you insight into how your product will appear to customers.

 

Creating Clarity

 

Color, however, isn’t the only critical variable when it comes to apple juice appearance; haze is an equally important part of the puzzle. While opalescence has become more desirable with the growing demand for natural-looking products, the majority of producers still seek to produce transparent juices. However, creating clarity in apple juices brings its own difficulties.

 

Although haze is sometimes an indicator of contamination, the majority of turbidity is caused by “tannins, proteins, or polysaccharides, either alone or in combination” present within apples themselves and appears after bottling.6  According to Jerome Van Buren, “these haze precursors can be derived from the fruit, although some are introduced in the processing line.” As proteins, starches, and tannins aggregate, their particles grow in size and settle. Haze precursors that are “not captured by the settling particles remain in the juice” cause haze to develop. There are a number of ways to minimize post-bottling haze, including limiting inclusion of haze-forming materials in the production process and “testing freshly bottled juice for potential haze-formers.” If testing detects haze-forming material, a number of corrective measures, such as fining, may be taken to remove them from the upstream product prior to bottling.  

 

For most customers, haze in apple juice is generally undesirable, which is why haze measurement is a vital part of the quality control process. By measuring the degree of turbidity both before and after bottling using spectrophotometric instrumentation, you can quantify haze and determine the best course of action to prevent it in future batches. Because haze may be an indicator of contamination, this is a particularly important step for both health and safety control as well as creating aesthetically appealing products.

 

Simultaneous Color and Haze Measurement in Apple Juice

 

Traditionally, color and haze have had to be measured separately by two different instruments. In recent years, however, strides in spectrophotometric technology have made it possible to capture color and haze information in a single measurement using one instrument. HunterLab offers the most sophisticated culmination of these technological advances in the form of its new Vista spectrophotometer. With electronic calibration, a spill resistant compartment, and a small footprint, the Vista takes color and haze measurement to a new level, ensuring precise measurement, flexibility, and longevity.

 

For apple juice producers, the Vista presents new opportunities for obtaining the most accurate color and haze measurements possible while minimizing labor time. The ease of simultaneous measurements means that the analytical process becomes not only faster but more cost-efficient, increasing your ability to implement broad-spectrum quality control protocols. With a built-in library of color and haze scales and indexes, customizable workspaces, and multiple data views you have the tools you need to ensure your products live up to consumer expectations.

 

HunterLab Innovation

 

At HunterLab, we are committed to continuous innovation in response to the needs of our customers. This is what has led us to create the most comprehensive line-up of color and haze measurement instruments available today, helping companies across industries stay at the top of their game. In a time of increasing quality expectations by consumers, our technologies give you extraordinary insight into your product lines, allowing you to rapidly identify and correct color and haze issues to ensure only the best products are released into the marketplace. Contact us to learn more about our cutting-edge technologies and let us help you find the perfect spectrophotometer for your needs.

 

  1. “Study Finds Artificial Sweeteners Lead to Weight Gain, But Experts Disagree”, April 6, 2017, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/apr/6/sucralose-found-in-splenda-zero-calorie-sweetener-/
  2. “Global Juice Market to Grow Owing to Introduction of New Vegetable and Fruit Juices; Industry Analysis, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2015/2016-2021”, July 12, 2016, https://globenewswire.com/news-release/2016/07/12/855398/0/en/Global-Juice-Market-to-Grow-owing-to-Introduction-of-New-Vegetable-and-Fruit-Juices-Industry-Analysis-Share-Growth-Trends-and-Forecast-2015-2016-2021.html
  3. “Norway: Apple Juice Sales Almost Double in 5 Years”, March 10, 2015, http://www.freshplaza.com/article/136507/Norway-Apple-juice-sales-almost-doubled-in-5-years
  4. “Effect of Stem Bromelain on the Browning of Apple Juice”, 2009, http://scialert.net/fulltext/?doi=ajft.2009.146.153
  5. “Use of Ultra-High Pressure Homogenization to Preserve Apple Juice Without Heat Damage”, April 1, 2009, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08957950802715112?src=recsys&journalCode=ghpr20
  6. “Causes and Prevention of Turbidity in Apple Juice”, 1998, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08957950802715112?src=recsys&journalCode=ghpr20

Using Spectrophotometric Analysis to Determine Color Consistency in Car Clear Coat

When going for long road trips with my parents as a kid, our car would get absolutely covered in grime and dirt–so much so that its color was hard to determine. Once, after grocery shopping we returned to the car to find “wash me” scrawled on the side panel. We got the hint–it was time for a carwash.

spectrophotometric analysis car clear coat
Cars require clear coat to protect their paint, but pigment in the clear coat can distort the car’s final color. Image source: Pexels user unsplash.com

Just like my family did, your customers take for granted that their car’s color will remain the same no matter how much grime, acid rain, or UV light it’s exposed to. But those in the car manufacturing industry know that it’s the clear coat on top of the car’s paint that makes this possible. And they also know that clear coat can affect the color of the car’s paint, depending on the brand and number of coats used.

Clear Coat Is in a Car’s Protective Shell, But Is It Actually Clear?

The composition of clear coat is constantly being improved by paint manufacturers to aid in ease of application, reduce drying times, and lessen the amount of volatile organic compounds released into the atmosphere. While clear coat is theoretically 100% transparent, in reality it contains small amounts of pigment and other substances that can change the final car color.1 This is an important detail for car manufacturers and auto body repair shops to understand, and it’s especially important to note if your business is considering switching clear coat brands for financial or environmental reasons.

As a manufacturer you can approach this one of two ways:

  1. Ensure that the new clear coat is perfectly transparent
  2. If your previous clear coat has slight pigmentation, ensure that the new clear coat matches that pigmentation

How Important Is Car Pigment?

Car manufacturers and those in auto body repair know better than anyone how important a car is to its owner. For many customers, their car is more than an object or tool; it’s almost a part of the family. Moreover, the color of a vehicle says a lot about its owner’s identity and sense of self, so it’s important that it is consistent between batches and in line with what is advertised and promised to customers. 

spectrophotometric analysis car clear coat
It’s important that manufacturers and auto repair shops ensure that the clear coat they use preserves color consistency. Image source: Flickr CC user Colin

Spectrophotometers and Smart Software for Accurate Color Matching

The best way to check for any pigmentation in a clear coat or any differences in pigmentation between clear coat brands is to use a diffuse/8 degree spectrophotometer with an integrating sphere operating in Reflectance Specular Included (RSIN) mode. This device will allow you to quantify:

  • What level of pigmentation (if any) there is in your clear coat with respect to the number of coatings applied to a surface
  • If there are any differences in pigmentation between different clear coat brands

With proper calibration, this process can be automated by software that does the color matching and comparison for you. Colors are quantified using the Lab color space, that is, they are assigned numerical values in three coordinates. These coordinates can be saved and compared to the values of new samples. To save time, programs can be set up to automatically perform this comparison and to notify the user of their results with a straightforward pass/fail response. This means that any technician can perform these QA measurements.  

On a smaller scale, the same spectrophotometric methods are a valuable tool for auto body mechanics and car detailers who perform touch-up repairs and detailing on cars with faded and damaged paint jobs.

Choosing the Right Tools

HunterLab’s comprehensive range of spectrophotometric instruments offers innovative end-to-end solutions to meet the specialized needs of the automotive industry. From dedicated on-line color monitoring in new car manufacturing to benchtop and portable spectrophotometers for body shops offering collision repair, customization, and restoration services, we have the tools to bring color measurement to new heights and optimize quality control. Contact us to learn more about HunterLab’s complete array of instrumentation, user-friendly software, and outstanding support services.

  1. “Fast drying clear coat composition with low volatile organic content,” October 10, 2000, https://www.google.ca/patents/US6130286

Color-Coded Packaging Becomes Part of Pharmacies’ Strategy to Prevent Medication Errors

color coded packaging
As more and more Americans come to rely on prescription medications, the risk of medication errors increase.
Image Source: Pexels user freestocks.org

Because of advances in pharmacology, the medical landscape in the United States has changed.

Illnesses that were once considered terminal are now manageable. Symptoms that once that greatly reduced quality of life can now be kept at bay. And conditions that only years ago were considered shameful have now been largely destigmatized thanks in part to the awareness raised by pharmaceutical companies.

As the number and efficacy of available medications have grown, so too have the number of people who rely on prescription medications in their daily lives. According to the Mayo Clinic, “nearly 70 percent of Americans are on at least one prescription drug, and more than half take two.”1 But while this expansion of therapeutic drug use undoubtedly has meaningful benefits for millions of people across the country, it also raises the risk of medication errors such as accidentally taking the wrong medication, particularly in households where multiple family members use daily medications. In 2012, nearly 300,000 people called Poison Control for assistance following a medication error. While many medication errors are relatively benign, this is not always the case; according to the FDA, “Medication errors cause at least one death every day and injure approximately 1.3 million people annually in the United States.”2

As more medications come to market and the number of users continues to grow, the pharmaceutical industry is turning to innovative solutions to prevent medication error. And, as is so often the case, one of the best solutions is also the most simple: color-coded packaging.

color coded packaging
The ClearRx prescription bottles used by Target use an innovative color coding system to help family members identify their medications.
Image Source: Bart

The Rise of ClearRx

Deborah Adler didn’t set out to change medicine. Despite coming from a family of doctors, she chose a different path, enrolling in an MFA program at the School of Visual Arts in New York. But before she was even 30, Adler had revolutionized the most common pharmaceutical product of all: the prescription bottle.

It all started when her grandmother accidentally took medication prescribed to her husband. “The drug store prescription bottle, it occurred to Adler, is not just unattractive, it’s actually dangerous. Statistics back her up: According to a recent poll conducted for Target, 50 percent of prescription-drug users have taken medication incorrectly.”3 To correct this, Adler devoted her senior thesis project to a new and improved prescription bottle design that prioritized function over form; each prescription bottle has a large flat surface onto which the label is attached, making it easy to read. The label itself features the name of the drug prominently across the top of the bottle and the top of the label, with directions directly below, making it easy to identify each medication and understand how to use it. But one of the most remarkable aspects of Adler’s design was the use of color; in her original concept, each family member was assigned a unique label color to easily differentiate between users, preventing potentially harmful medication errors.

Adler’s ClearRx bottle design was quickly snapped up by Target, which worked with Adler to make slight design changes, one of which was a color-coded plastic ring around the neck of the bottle. Each family member is assigned a different color to make differentiation easy. For Richard Stone, a Target customer in Minneapolis, the color-coding system is a big selling point; he and his wife each take 3-4 different medications and “the new bottles help.”4 “I’ve got the blue, she’s got the red. It makes it easier to tell which is which.” And Richard wasn’t the only one who appreciated ClearRx; when the bottles were phased out after CVS recently took over Target’s pharmacies, devotees of Adler’s design were outraged, taking to Twitter to demand the return of their beloved prescription bottles. Some analysts are even blaming the return to traditional bottles for Target’s falling sales; as Laura Northrup noted in The Consumer earlier this month, “Take heed, CVS: people really, really, really like those bottles.”5

Time will tell if CVS will bring back ClearRx. In the meantime, however, the devotion of Target customers to the prescription bottles sends a clear message: color-coded packaging works. At a time when pharmaceutical companies are increasingly using color as a key packaging element to increase adherence, ClearRx is a concrete, real-life example of the wisdom of such efforts.

color coded packaging
Spectrophotometers are an essential tool to ensure accurate coloration of color-coded packaging, optimizing their ability to prevent medical errors.
Image Source: Pexels user pixabay.com

Spectrophotometric Monitoring of Color-Coded Packaging

While instrumental color measurement is vital to many industries, it is perhaps never more important than when color is deployed as a medical safeguard. As such, pharmaceutical companies must take great care to choose the best tools to achieve consistent coloration of color-coded packaging elements. With a range of optical geometries, today’s sophisticated spectrophotometers are ideally suited to precisely measure the color of all packaging materials, from papers and inks to plastics and foils, ensuring accurate and repeatable results. By replacing subjective visual analysis, spectrophotometers allow you to color match with ease and continuously monitor packaging elements throughout production. If undesirable color variation is detected, affected products can be immediately quarantined and kept from entering the marketplace, thereby preventing potential medical errors.

For over 60 years, HunterLab‘s spectrophotometers have been sought out by the pharmaceutical industry to meet its diverse color measurement challenges. Our state-of-the-art technologies have been developed in response to the needs of our customers and set a new standard for accuracy, flexibility, and user-friendly design. With a comprehensive range of instruments to choose from, HunterLab provides innovative solutions for all phases of pharmaceutical packaging production, from research and development to manufacturing, giving you the highest level of insight and quality control. Contact us to learn more about our renowned spectrophotometers, customizable software packages, and world-class customer service, and let us help you select the right tools for your needs.

  1. “Nearly 7 in 10 Americans Take Prescription Drugs, Mayo Clinic, Olmsted Medical Center Find”, June 19, 2013, http://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/nearly-7-in-10-americans-take-prescription-drugs-mayo-clinic-olmsted-medical-center-find/
  2. “Medication Error Reports”, March 25, 2009, http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/MedicationErrors/ucm080629.htm
  3. “The Perfect Prescription”, September 12, 2005, http://nymag.com/nymetro/health/features/11700/
  4. “Target Turns Old Pill Bottle Design On Its Head”, April 26, 2005, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/7634269/ns/health-health_care/t/target-turns-old-pill-bottle-design-its-head/#.V8cBfJMrJE4
  5. “Customers: CVS Takeover Erased Everything Good About Target Pharmacies”, August 23, 2016, https://consumerist.com/2016/08/23/customers-cvs-takeover-erased-everything-good-about-target-pharmacies/

In a Booming Market, Spectrophotometers Play an Essential Role in Yogurt Quality Control

yogurt quality control
As the market continues to boom, yogurt quality control is becoming a top priority to help brands meet the expectations of today’s discerning consumers.
Image Source: Unsplash user Sambazon

It may be hard to imagine now, but there was a time in the not-so-distant past when yogurt was not considered a trendy food, and variety meant carrying strawberry and blueberry. Then came Greek yogurt. Yes, you have technically been able to buy Greek yogurt for years, but in 2007 it represented only 1% of the US yogurt market. Now, that number is over 50% and growing.1 According to Technavio, which predicts the value of the U.S. Greek yogurt market to reach $4 billion by 2019, “The introduction of new flavors, novel packaging, and new technologies will prove to be instrumental in increasing the demand for Greek yogurt in the years to come.”

But while Greek yogurt may have made yogurt cool, it also opened the door for expansion of the yogurt market in general. “It’s clear that this is no longer a ‘business as usual’ category, ” Chris Solly, CEO of Ehrmann USA said in 2013. “Brands are looking for new ways to continue driving consumption, private label supply is tight but growing, and retailers are in a position of having more options than available space. It is clear that brands need to bring true innovation to the category to maintain consumer interest.”2 Today, yogurt manufacturers have answered that call by introducing an incredible variety of new products, including “exotic, indulgent and savory flavors, limited-edition products, mix-ins, superfoods, grass-fed and whole milk, stand-up pouches, edible packaging, and others.”

The explosion of yogurt has driven standards for product appearance, particularly color, to all-time highs; consumers are more discerning than ever and have virtually endless alternative choices if a specific brand doesn’t live up to their expectations. As the stakes rise, yogurt quality control is taking on newfound importance in the production process and an increasing number of manufacturers are turning to spectrophotometric color analysis to ensure products meet the high standards of today’s buyers.

yogurt quality control
Consumer concerns about artificial dyes are leading yogurt manufacturers to look toward more natural methods of imbuing products with desirable hues.
Image Source: Pexels user pixabay.com

Challenges in Yogurt Color

Creating desirable yogurt colors can be a challenging business, particularly as consumers increasingly reject artificial colorants and controversial dyes. This was most notably demonstrated when Dannon made headlines across the country for using carmine to lend a pink hue to their products. “[W]hen I buy strawberry yogurt I’m expecting yogurt and strawberries, and not red dye made from bugs,” said Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “Given the fact that it causes allergic reactions in some people, and that it’s easy to use safer, plant-based colors, why would Dannon use it at all?”3

Jacobson may be correct in questioning the wisdom of including such a divisive ingredient considering the current public environment, but he overestimates the ease of using plant-based colors. “Unlike artificial colors, color derived from natural sources are very specific to an application,” says Rajesh Cherian of Roha. “This is because their stability is heavily influenced by factors such as acidity, process temperature, interaction with other additives, and exposure to light. Working with colors from natural origins can be challenging due to issues like fading, browning, bleeding, and even flavor changes.”4

This is of heightened concern at a time when clear glass and plastic packaging are growing in popularity within the yogurt market. As Donna Berry points out, “Sometimes the clear view may be deleterious to the product’s appearance, as light accelerates color oxidation. This is particularly true with fruit preps used in yogurt products.” As more and more yogurt manufacturers move toward natural colorants and clear packaging, precise color monitoring is becoming more important than ever before.

yogurt quality control
Spectrophotometric color measurement plays a critical role in yogurt quality control.
Image Source: Pexels user kaboompics.com

The Benefit of Spectrophotometry for Yogurt Quality Control

Spectrophotometers are designed to measure color the way the eye sees it, replacing subjective and unreliable visual assessment with objective technology. Through spectral analysis, these remarkable instruments are able to distill color information to hard data, allowing prepared food manufacturers to precisely quantify product appearance and detect unwanted variation of both raw and finished product. By creating individual color standards for each product, yogurt manufacturers are able to easily confirm that each product adheres to expectations throughout the manufacturing process as well as evaluate color stability over time to ensure that products stay appealing to customers at home.

Spectrophotometers also play an essential role in the development and assessment of new yogurt products, ingredients, and processing methods, particularly as public demand for more natural products and governmental regulation of artificial colorants change the landscape of yogurt production. Innovative new materials and processes are already being investigated to allow yogurt manufacturers to achieve the colors and color stability they want without resorting to controversial ingredients.5 As the industry continues to grow, the data provided by spectrophotometric evaluation will be key to establishing new standards for yogurt quality.

HunterLab Quality

HunterLab has been at the forefront of innovation in spectrophotometry for over 60 years. Today, we offer a comprehensive range of portable, benchtop, and inline instruments developed to meet the diverse and changing needs of our customers in the food industry. By combining state-of-the-art hardware with top-of-the-line software packages, HunterLab offers yogurt manufacturers unprecedented insight and control to create the highest quality products. Contact us to learn more about our renowned instruments and world-class customer support services and let us help you find the perfect tools for your color measurement needs.

  1. “US Greek Yogurt Market To Reach $4bn By 2019: Technavio”, November 17, 2015, http://www.dairyreporter.com/Markets/US-Greek-yogurt-market-to-reach-4bn-by-2019-Technavio
  2. “The Yogurt Wars”, April 13, 2013, http://www.forbes.com/sites/marketshare/2013/04/13/the-yogurt-wars/#7eea104746d3
  3. “Dannon Uses Bugs in Red Yogurt, Carmine Dye Contains Crushed Cochineal Insects.”, July 26, 2013, http://www.ibtimes.com/dannon-uses-bugs-red-yogurt-carmine-dye-contains-crushed-cochineal-insects-1361375
  4. “Color Considerations For Dairy Products”, December 4, 2013, http://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/news_home/Supplier-Innovations/2013/12/Color_considerations_for_dairy.aspx?ID=%7BC4690A44-9EFC-4936-9400-DBD691125AE4%7D&cck=1
  5. “Stability of Astaxanthin in Yogurt Used to Simulate Apricot Color, Under Refrigeration”, July/September 2014, http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0101-20612014000300018

Measuring the Color of Flour Ensures Quality Control in an Evolving Marketplace

measuring the color of flour
The production of flour has shaped economies and cultures around the world for thousands of years.
Image Source: Pexels user kaboompics.com

At a time when we are walking around with powerful computers in our pockets and standing at the cusp of self-driving cars, it can be hard to appreciate the technological discoveries of the past, the ones that have become so deeply integrated in our culture and economy that we now take them for granted. One of the most striking examples can be found in virtually every kitchen in the United States: flour.

Even before the wheel was invented, a revolutionary technology had been discovered: the production of flour. The realization that ingestible seeds could be ground into nourishing dust steered the history and fate of man in a new direction. Without the grinding stone there would be no bread or buns, no pasta or pizza, no cakes or couscous. Probably there would be fewer people on our planet. Certainly there would be no civilization as we know it. And the wheel, originally an aid to agriculture, would presumably never have been invented.1

Today, modern mills “produce hundreds of different types of flour for every conceivable application, and in incredible quantities,” using over 320 million tons of wheat flour each year. “Wheat milling has become a global industry that bears a great responsibility,” notes the FlourWorld Museum. “For the plant that was cultivated by the pioneers of agriculture over 10,000 years ago is now the stable food of a third of the world’s population – a bulwark between us and hunger.”

As overall demand for flour continues to grow globally, so too do quality standards for an ever-expanding array of flour types. This is where another revolutionary technology comes in: the spectrophotometer. By measuring the color of flour, spectrophotometers provide invaluable insight into flour quality and an objective method of assessing process variables.

measuring the color of flour
The color of flour has significant implications for product function and consumer perception.
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The Color of Flour and Why It Matters

The color of flour is influenced by a broad range of variables, from wheat variety to aging, and from milling practices to bleaching and maturing agents, creating a spectrum of colors ranging from brownish grey to creamy yellow to the whitest white. These color differences take on both practical and psychological meaning; color reflects the chemical composition and processing history of each batch of flour while simultaneously influencing function and our perception of nutritional value and safety. As such, the color of flour has been a significant area of research since the advent of industrial flour production.2

First and foremost, flour color is an important indicator of suitable application; as noted by Kelli Foster for The Kitchn, “Foods made with bleached flour tend to have a softer texture, more volume, and a brighter color than those made with unbleached flour.”3 Meanwhile, unbleached flour “provides more structure in baked goods, which makes it an ideal base for things like yeast breads, cream puffs, eclairs, and pastries.” In addition to differences in product behavior, bleached and unbleached flours also produce subtle flavor differences that impact appeal to some customers.

However, bleaching itself is a contentious issue due to potential health hazards; bleaching and maturing agents have been banned in a number of countries. and in the U.S. an increasing number of consumers are now expressing concern about the impact of bleached flours, shifting demand to unbleached products. Simultaneously, whole wheat flours, which produce darker colors and more intense flavors, are becoming more appealing to an increasingly health-conscious public. Specialty and artisanal flours are also growing in popularity due to both specificity of application and real and perceived quality differences. In this changing landscape, the color of flour is taking on more significance than ever before for both individual consumers and commercial scale buyers.

measuring the color of flour
Spectrophotometric measurement of flour color allows for rapid, economical quality assessment and ensures that each batch meets consumer expectations.
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Integrating Spectrophotometric Color Measurement

While public perception of and market demand for different flour varieties may be evolving, objective color assessment is an integral part of quality control for all types of flour. Each flour variety must consistently meet buyers’ expectations to optimize marketability and produce desirable end product hues. Spectrophotometers allow producers to measure the color of flour through sophisticated spectral technology, facilitating the development of color standards and ensuring that all product falls within established tolerances. Today’s modern spectrophotometers are ideally suited to analyze the color of everything from heavily textured, nonuniform samples to fine powders, giving you the accurate and precise data you need to perform in-depth quality assessments.

Spectrophotometers may be integrated at various key locations within the production chain to monitor color throughout the manufacturing process, from raw materials to finished product. By doing so, you are able to exercise the utmost quality control protocols at each stage of manufacturing and catch unwanted variations as early as possible, improving efficacy and minimizing economic losses as the result of faulty product. Spectrophotometric technologies may also be used to evaluate novel bleaching and maturing agents, flour improvement methods, and the aesthetic impact of fortification products.

HunterLab Quality

HunterLab has been a pioneer in spectrophotometric technology for over 60 years. In that time, we have led the way in developing highly precise, flexible instruments designed with the user in mind. Today, we offer a comprehensive range of portable, benchtop, and online spectrophotometers, giving our customers the tools they need to meet their unique color measurement challenges in the food industry. When combined with our sophisticated software packages, HunterLab provides unprecedented insight into color behavior and control over product quality. Contact us to learn more about our innovative instruments and world-class customer support services and let us help you find the perfect spectrophotometer for your needs.

  1. “The History of Flour: From the Mortar to the Industrial Mill”, http://www.art-and-flour.de/english/history.html
  2. “The Color of Wheat Flour”, July 15, 1929, http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ac50067a018
  3. “What’s the Difference Between Bleached and Unbleached Flour?”, September 21, 2015, http://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-difference-between-bleached-and-unbleached-flour-223858
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