What Color Quality Says About Food: How Does Your Product Measure Up?

How do you measure the quality of food products? For many items, food quality can be measured on various levels using different parameters for the collection of data. Color, texture, taste, and smell are all human perceptions that give us both instant and specific information about the quality and state of our food products, but measuring color quality in food goes far beyond what the human eye perceives.

meat color quality
Color is the first standard that most consumers rely on when it comes to the quality of their food products.
Image Source: Flickr user U.S. Department of Agriculture

Color quality refers to the quantifiable and objective data provided by advanced spectrophotometric technology. This information not only tells us how food is perceived by the consumer, but the technology can also look deeper into the molecular structure and composition of food products. Using color quality standards, this higher level of data can provide details which help identify slight changes in overall presentation quality throughout production, as well as alert inspection teams to potentially dangerous food contaminants or abnormalities. This process can be used to assist in shelf life monitoring and provide valuable data that can be used to further drive advancements in product quality.

Color quality measurement for quality and safety

For a food product to be fit for consumption, it must meet specific regulatory standards, as well as ultimately be accepted by the consumer. Color is the first characteristic that consumers rely on when making food choices, and even the slightest changes can deter a potential buyer and alter the consumer’s perception of product quality. However, before a food product even makes its way to the supermarket shelf, it must undergo a series of tests for quality and safety. The USDA (Untied States Department of Agriculture) and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) have set specific regulatory standards to protect consumers and ensure product integrity. Many of these tests require the use of spectrophotometric technology to effectively monitor and quantify data in order to meet these specific standards and regulations.

peaches color quality
The FDA has strict regulations for produce quality. Many of these standards require specific data that relies solely on spectrophotometric technology.
Image Source: Flickr user U.S. Department of Agriculture

The preferred method for food quality analysis

Spectrophotometers have been used for many years to determine the color quality of food products. Although this technology has not changed drastically during this time frame, new methods of analysis have been established that utilize this technology to its full potential. In many food products, color quality is used to measure the characteristics which determine food stability and provide valuable data points regarding the shelf life of a product. As stated in the online publication Advances in Agrophysical Research, spectrophotometric “methods are highly desirable for [the] analysis of food components because they often require minimal or no sample preparation, provide rapid and on-line analysis, and have the potential to run multiple tests on a single sample.” In today’s market, foods are under immeasurable scrutiny and consumers are demanding more information about their food choices. Spectrophotometric technology allows for this information to be brought to light. Quality food producers utilize the data provided through color quality analysis to justify labeling, product claims, and the value of their product. Without tangible information, quality control is simply a matter of perception.

vegetables color quality
Consumers are more aware than ever about the quality of their food. Quantitative color analysis provides an array of information to support the quality of food products today.
Image Source: Flickr user U.S. Department of Agriculture

Color measurement technology

Spectral analysis spans a wide array of industries and markets. Choosing the right instrumentation is not only important, but can make a difference in the way tools are utilized. At HunterLab we specialize in the latest technology, supported by countless studies and hours of research. We address the individual needs of our clients and strive to develop ongoing relationships in order to ensure that our products are utilized to their maximum potential. Our products and services are backed by over 60 years of experience and we are here to help you find the color quality potential of your products. Contact HunterLab today to learn more about our product options and services, and to experience the HunterLab difference.

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