In plant-based protein research, developers have to answer many questions. How do you make plant-based meat taste like meat? How do you achieve the right texture? While these factors are essential to the success of a plant-based meat product, color is also vital for creating an enjoyable product. Finding reliable methods for measuring this color is key.

Measuring Color With Spectrophotometry

During the development process, researchers can measure the color of their product using a spectrophotometer, an instrument that can replicate the human visual response to color.

A spectrophotometer does this by illuminating a sample using a controlled light source that is first passed through a diffraction grating and separated into its component wavelengths. This light then interacts with the sample and the reflected or transmitted light is measured with a detector to quantify the absorbance and transmittance of the sample.

Transmittance is the amount of light that passes completely through a sample, and absorbance is the light absorbed by the sample. The wavelengths that transmit reflect back to the human eye as color. The spectrophotometer converts the transmittance and absorbance into data for reference.

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Researchers can use spectrophotometers to assess the colors of meat at different stages of preparation. They can use these measurements for reference as they develop coloring processes for plant-based proteins. When the spectrophotometer shows similar data for plant-based protein as it does for real meat, developers can confirm the effectiveness of the color.


Why Is Color Important for Plant-Based Proteins?

When creating plant-based meat, developers need the color to mimic the real thing as much as the flavor and texture. The visual appearance of food informs our perception of it before we take that first bite. Even if plant-based meat has the flavor and texture, an incorrect color can make the product seem unappetizing and not worth eating.

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A plant-based burger that is red and brown in appearance will draw in consumers far more than a patty that runs gray. With the help of spectrophotometry, plant-based protein research can determine quantitative measures of pigment for an appetizing product every time.

Turn to HunterLab for Coloring Needs in Plant-Based Meat Science

HunterLab offers a range of spectrophotometer products to quantify color in plant-based meat – from raw ingredients to the final product. Explore our products to support your plant-based protein development, and request a quote to receive more information about a particular product.