Must Have Quality Assurance Tools For Food Manufacturing Newbies

I think the following are necessities whenever someone is starting a food manufacturing business. They are tools, equipment or groups that are not usually available in home kitchens. Useful for quality assurance jobs.

Refractometer. For measuring and correcting sugar values of juice, puree, syrup, jam jellies and  preserves. A refractometer depending on what it is intended can also measure salt and alcohol concentrations.

Alcohol Hydrometer. Ever tried making wine and clueless about its percent alcohol content. Or are you into alcohol manufacturing business and still sending samples to other institutions to do the alcohol content analysis for you. Do not fret. It is time to buy one. It is cheap and very easy to use. Hydrometer can be scaled to measure either, alcohol, sugar, salinity etc…

Salinometer. Okay, the explanations from above two items are enough. Read more about those tools and decide what your salinometer will be. Salinometer measures salinity or salt concentration. Stop using your tongue to measure the degree of saltiness, it is bad for your kidney.

Texture Analyzer. It determines how hard, how soft and how crispy the product is.  Or, the amount of force needed to cut a reformed ham, a hot dog or a donuts. A full range texture analyzer equipment will cause you a fortune. Finding cheap alternatives is hard either. I suggest asking the help from a friend (preferably and engineer) for diy tool.

Titrable Acidity Analysis Kit. Measures the amount  of organic acid in a solution. E.g. citric, malic, acetic, tartaric and lactic. The kit includes burette, burette clamp, iron stand, beakers, phenolphthalein indicator and standard sodium hydroxide solution. A bit tricky to use but can be mastered easily with practice.

pH meter. Measures the amount of  H ions in solution. pH 7 is neutral – like tap and distilled water. pH below 7 is going to acidic. Hydrochloric acid has pH value of 1 that makes it extremely acidic. Most fruits are acidic with average pH value of 4. pH value above 7 are basic, the likes of sodium hydroxide and soaps. Titrable acidity and pH are related but are completely different properties. Both should be measured separately.

Viscometer. Measures the flow rate of liquid foods. Using pure water as reference. Oil is more viscous than water. Heavy syrup is more viscous than oil. Banana ketchup is more viscous than heavy syrup. Strawberry jams is more viscous than banana ketchup. So much for the comparisons, you need this equipment in order to get exact values.

Centrifuge. By using this equipment, you can determine the amount of pulp in a natural fruit juice, amount of solid in a fish sauce or amount of impurities in wine. The physical property called total solids.

Microbial Analysis Laboratory. Food is known as silent poison. Blame the harmful microorganisms for it. Even a single pore of E. coli, C. botulinum, Salmonella or Listeria can turn any food item to a bottle of poison if conditions became favorable. You need this to assure that food items coming out from facility is safe for public consumption.

It am placing it in second to the last listing. It is necessary but needs high cost input.

Sensory Panel. This is the part I hate the most. A group of well-trained personalities who can criticize and describe specific foods with extreme accuracy and precision. Time and money is not the challenge here. The hard part is finding a group with such qualities. For the mean time, you and your families taste buds will do.

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