Texture Color and Foods: Understanding How Spectrophotometry Ensures Consistency

The term ‘texture color’ came up after our last family photo shoot. Even thinking back to it now makes me cringe. A group photo with four different families and nine kids under the age of 12 is a treacherous feat on its own, but once the pictures were in, the real challenges began. After painstakingly sifting through each picture to find the perfect one (or at least one in which everyone was looking the same direction), texture color was the next option to come into play. When choosing between matte, semi-gloss, and gloss finishes, the print size, the frame, and the light source all had the ability to affect the visual perception of the photo. So, of course, in the end we just picked one of each.

Color measurements are required for nearly every product we purchase, and texture color often creates challenges in spectrophotometric sample measurements. This is particularly true in the foods industries where texture color varies based on the differing stages in ripening, processing, and food storage methods.

sliced tomato texture color
Food products, such as tomatoes, undergo many changes in texture and consistency during the numerous stages of product development. Whether fresh or processed, spectrophotometers must be able to account for variations of texture in color measurement samples.
Image Source: Flickr user Daniella Segura

How texture and color affect our senses

We’ve previously discussed how color is one of the leading factors in consumer choice when it comes to food products. Studies have shown that the human eye’s perception of food color has such a strong effect on the brain, that when discoloration is present food is often rejected and a person may even feel physically ill, even without any contamination. The ability to sense changes in color is our body’s way of warning us that something is not quite right, and possibly harmful or unfit for consumption. That is why scientists have been working with the food industry for decades to create consistent and accurate ways of monitoring and measuring colors and color changes in foods through the use of spectrophotometry and colorimetric technology.

Food texture also influences taste and plays an important role in color perception and consumer choice. New information has shown a correlation between the textures of foods and caloric intake perception. Researchers state that “understanding how the texture of food can influence calorie perceptions, food choice, and consumption amount can help nudge consumers towards making healthier choices.” Foods with coarser textures indicate to consumers healthier choices, and food manufacturers require accurate texture color measurement to account for the various consistencies of their food products.

crackers texture color
Both color and texture affect consumer choice, so spectrophotometers must be designed to measure samples that allow for textural versatility.
Image Source: Flickr user Stacy

Measuring Texture Color

Many factors can affect texture color analysis in foods. Variations in growing seasons, processing, storage methods, and shelf-life all influence food color perception. These inconsistencies can create challenges in color measurement methods. Therefore, in order to get objective, quantifiable, and accurate color measurement results, sample preparation, and color measurement technology must be able to work together effectively.

Depending on the product size, shape, texture, and consistency, various color measurement instrumentation is required. Monochromatic colorimeters are ideal for measuring the ‘brownness’ in baked or fried foods, which often includes many starch-based products found in snack foods and cereals. Due to significant texture color variations, these products require a larger viewing area to obtain precise optical averages. Tristimulus Colorimeters are also available to accommodate large sample areas, but this type of instrumentation covers an even greater number of color combinations to provide results that most closely resemble human-eye perception and are ideal for the many coarse-food color measurement samples.

cookie close-up color texture
Coarse-food color measurement requires a larger sample area to account for both color variations and texture.
Image source: Flickr user Lara604

 

Visual analysis and physical tests can be used to measure many observable traits in foods such as shape, density, color, and texture; however they are usually subjective and inconsistent. Colorimetric instrumentation provides an objective analysis for evaluating foods which uses less time and provides more cost effective efficiency.

Just like picking the perfect portrait finish for your family photos, choosing the right instrumentation for your specific texture color measurement needs can be a bit daunting and overwhelming. That is why it is important to work with industry experts who know and understand the various challenges and needs of food production and color analysis. HunterLab is a leading name in colorimetric technology and spectrophotometers, with a specialty in food production and food industry needs. We go beyond the competition to develop a relationship with our clients in order to find a solution for every unique challenge. Contact HunterLab today and let us show you our commitment to accurate color measurement.

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