Color measurement and spectrophotometry support the food industry in several ways. Keep reading to learn how important these processes are to this industry and what solutions you can integrate for your food products.

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What Is Food Color Measurement?

Food color measurement is the process of using equipment to quantify food product colors. Color measurement by spectrophotometer allows food producers and retailers to understand food quality and meet standards. This process is necessary because the human eye is subjective, and everyone perceives color differently.

A spectrophotometer will measure transmission or reflection, depending on the model and what food sample you are working with. Spectrophotometers shine light into sample chambers and analyze how your sample interacts with the light. Reflection data tells companies how much light your food reflects, helping you identify the exact hue of your sample for more specified results. This measurement option is excellent for opaque and translucent foods and materials.

Alternatively, transmission is the amount of light that passes through a sample. Sample trays will have a sensitive receptor at the bottom to measure this data. This option is better for translucent and transparent foods. Especially when working with liquids, transmission data can be crucial.

Food color measurement works with various materials at every stage of production. Producers often measure ingredients such as sugar and oil to ensure they are safe for food products. Food undergoes several rounds of testing at various stages, so manufacturers can ensure it is ready for the marketplace.

The Importance of Food Color Measurement Using Spectrophotometers

Color measurement is an essential process in the food industry. Color measurement processes and data can assure companies and customers in many ways, including:

  • Meeting customer expectations: Customers judge food on many factors, including how it looks. Discoloration or inconsistency can make them think food is unsafe to eat. When customers know what certain food is supposed to look like, they are more likely to choose brands and options that meet their expectations. For example, customers will feel more comfortable with brands that continually deliver pure white sugar.
  • Ensuring consistency and quality: Color measurement by spectrophotometer is reliable. Companies can trust the data they receive from their equipment, ensuring they are selling consistent products. Many organizations outline color standards on scales and indices to understand when food reaches its optimized quality. A spectrophotometer transforms the color into quantifiable data that matches these indices for more precise results and quality control.
  • Identifying contamination: Color consistency is one of the main goals of color measurement. A spectrophotometer will report inconsistencies and discoloration with its data, adding vital contamination detection to its services. Identifying contamination early can prevent recalls and improve customer loyalty when your company wants to provide customers with safe and quality food products.
  • Understanding your supply chain: Hitch standardization uses the same color measurement processes and models across the supply chain to ensure quality as products move toward customers. Your company and partners might measure food color at production, storage, distribution, and retailer levels. The first measurement will act as a reference for all others. This method helps companies understand supply chain conditions. If food spoils before it reaches your retailers, you can adjust your transportation or storage processes to preserve products better.
  • Avoiding subjectivity with measurement: Everyone perceives color differently, and perception might change based on surrounding conditions. A product under lab lighting might appear differently in a grocery store. You can create more objective results with color measurement and spectrophotometry. Your color measurement equipment will provide exact numerical data to understand the hue and what colors make up your food product. Setups can help you measure different samples of the same products in a consistent way, allowing you to trust that any changes in results are from variances in the product.
  • Creating recognizable brands: Color is influential in brand recognition. In the food industry, color and branding go beyond packaging and marketing techniques — your food color can support your brand. Products like cereal or chips might have a particular color that sets their product apart from other brands and attracts their target audience. For example, a breakfast cereal for children might use bright, unnatural colors. When you want to create a consistent product your customers will recognize on shelves, color measurement can support these goals.

The food industry needs to ensure health and safety when selling consumer products. Color measurement can allow companies to understand how well their food products meet their health, safety, and branding standards.

4 Types of Food Color Measurement Solutions

Companies manufacturing and handling food products can use many color measurement methods for measuring food color. HunterLab has several spectrophotometer models that can support different food types and consistencies, allowing your company to find a solution that best supports your products.

1. Aeros

Aeros is ideal for textured and non-uniform samples, like cereal or pretzels. Aeros supports this function with its no-contact sensor and auto-height positioning sensor, allowing it to measure the color of textured surfaces for reliable and accurate data. This model sports the largest rotating platform in the industry, so you can measure 27.5 square inches in five seconds.

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You can reduce learning time with Aeros's simple interface — you can operate it with one touch. For increased data sharing, it has USB and Ethernet ports. You can upload and share your data regardless of how you use it.

2. ColorFlex EZ

The ColorFlex EZ measures solid and liquid samples as the human eye perceives them with its 45°/0° design, so you can deliver better results that match your customers' expectations. It has 250 setups for more streamlined processes and storage for 2,000 product standards and tolerances, so you can pass products more efficiently.

You can further specify this equipment's functions with its various models designed for different food measurements, such as:

  • ColorFlex EZ Tomato: This model measures tomato color in all its forms, including paste, puree, ketchup, juice, and fresh tomatoes. It comes with color indices and scales for each material for better analysis and quality control.
  • ColorFlex EZ Citrus: This model collects color data from grapefruits, lemons, and oranges. It can measure them in their fresh or concentrated forms and includes scales for redness and yellowness.
  • ColorFlex EZ Coffee: Coffee ground measurement can help companies understand their roast level for optimized flavor and products.

The ColorFlex EZ spectrophotometer is compact, allowing it to fit seamlessly into your existing tabletop spaces. It comes prepared with HunterLab's Easy Match Quality Control (QC) software and connects to printers and PCs.

3. MiniScan EZ 4500

For a portable color measurement solution, the MiniScan EZ is a powerful spectrophotometer you can operate with one hand. Its large screen is easy to read for increased useability. You can access all standard color scales and indices, and it can store 100 sample standards.

4. Vista

Vista measures transmission for transparent liquids and solids, like oils. This data can help determine product purity, which is essential for many product ingredients. Because it functions for many crucial liquid samples, its compartment is spill-resistant.

This spectrophotometer is excellent at detecting contamination in samples, making it vital when you want to ensure safety and quality. For data sharing, you can print, email, and stream information from Vista.

Choose HunterLab for Your Food Color Measurement Solutions

HunterLab is a leader in color measurement solutions with over 65 years of experience. Our spectrophotometers offer consistent and accurate results your color measurement teams can rely on for increased quality control. Technical integration and simplified processes make HunterLab equipment easy to use and implement into your spaces.

Contact HunterLab today and discover how our equipment can benefit your food production processes.