Fortified Food Analysis: Spectrophotometric Determination of Micronutrients

Fortified foods provide many of the vitamins and nutrients our bodies need. The food industry manufactures an array of fortified foods and relies on analytical methods to ensure product development and accurate quantification of micronutrients. A number of leading food producers trust spectrophotometric determination of micronutrients to meet quality standards and labeling regulations for fortified foods. Spectral analysis provides a simple yet effective method for measuring the variety of micronutrients used in fortified foods.

cereal spectrophotometric determination
Fortified foods provide many valuable micronutrients that are essential for dietary intake and health.
Image Source: Flickr User musicfanatic29

Determining iron in wheat flour

Pharmaceutical nutritional supplements are often used to meet daily intake needs, but the primary supplementary source of micronutrients comes from fortified foods. Iron is of the most important micronutrients in our diets. Red blood cell production requires adequate levels of iron to develop healthy cells to carry oxygen and perform other critical bodily functions. Low iron is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies and is the leading cause of anemia in the United States.

Food fortification has been used as a nutritional intervention to meet dietary needs. Foods such as cereal, bread, pasta, and flour serve as a significant source of micronutrients, including iron. Wheat flour fortification is one of the leading sources of supplementary iron around the world. Spectrophotometric determination is routinely used to measure iron content in wheat flour. Quantification of iron and other vitamins and minerals is essential for meeting compliance standards and regulations. Wheat mills must add adequate amounts of these micronutrients during production and premix development. Spectrophotometric determination to test flour both premix and post-production is crucial for proper quantification, labeling, and to ensure that nutritional standards are met.

wheat flour spectrophotometric determination
Wheat flour is a source of iron and other micronutrients. 
Image Source: Flickr User Cara Faus

Comparing spectrophotometry to other methods of analysis

Spectrophotometric determination offers a simple and rapid method for analyzing iron and other micronutrients. When compared to atomic absorption, spectrophotometric determination provides comparable results that are easier and less costly to obtain. Spectrophotometric determination of iron concentration in wheat flour involves minimal sample preparation and can determine whether required levels are present in fortified flour products. Since iron levels vary by wheat and other fortification sources, it is important to take repeated sample measurements to accurately quantify the levels in fortified foods.

wheat spectrophotometric determination
Iron levels can vary in wheat products based on specific growing conditions and processing of raw food materials. Image Source: Flickr User jayneandd

Spectrophotometric determination is utilized around the world and is a preferred method due to its simplicity and affordability. The rugged and portable design of spectrophotometric instrumentation makes it an ideal choice for micronutrient determination in laboratory settings as well as at production plants and mills. This technology offers reliable quantification methods of iron in wheat flour as well as a variety of other micronutrients needed for fortification.

Other applications of spectral analysis

Micronutrient analysis can be time consuming and expensive, but spectrophotometric determination of many vitamins and minerals can be achieved with one simple and affordable tool. Spectral analysis has proven reliable for a variety of quantitative and qualitative analysis procedures in the food industry including vitamin and mineral analysis for vitamin A, B series complex vitamins, vitamin C, and iron.

Spectrophotometric assays of vitamins, minerals, and proteins can be difficult to attain. However, advancements in spectrophotometric technology have led to methods to differentiate these elements, quantify them according to their unique properties and improve food safety and quality.

HunterLab is a leader in spectrophotometric technology and has worked together with industry leaders to meet the various challenges and needs of the food industry. We are committed to developing our instrumentation to meet regulatory standards and improve food production and quality. For more information on the technology we offer, contact HunterLab today.

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