Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Moisture Analysis in the Dairy Industry

Solids and ash testing is an important component to quality food manufacturing. In the dairy industry it becomes a crucial indicator of quality, ingredients, and shelf life. As efficiency becomes more important in dairy manufacturing; quick, accurate, and efficient testing methods are becoming necessary to the manufacturing process. With the Arizona Instrument LLC Computrac Moisture and Ash Analyzers, testing total solids, moisture, and ash content is an easy pain-free process.

Since 1991, pricing regulations on dairy has switched from being based on % butterfat to % total solids (TS). Since this change, most state and federal government regulations have set standards based on minimum % total solids, % butterfat, and % solids-not-fat (SNF). To conform to these regulations, gravimetric testing is becoming the quickest and easiest way to gain total solids information on the product, and has been the most reliable method to stand in federal and state court systems. Gravimetric testing is critical in manufacturing quality product and in avoiding government litigation.

Total Solids in a dairy product consists of two regulated components: butterfat and solids-not-fat. Using the accepted Babcock method for determining % butterfat with a gravimetric solids analyzer, the % total solids, % butterfat, and % solids-not-fat can all be determined. Antiquated methods using convection ovens or lactometers are no longer necessary to determine what dairy products consist of.

Solids-not-fat consists mainly of minerals, protein, and lactose. Ash testing is the testing of the non-organic material of a food; mainly minerals. Likewise, Ash testing for a dairy product is the testing for mineral content such as Calcium, Phosphorous, and Potassium. Knowing and testing for these minerals is vital to manufacturing a quality dairy product.

The percent moisture in certain dairy products indicates the shelf life and viability. Excess moisture in a product promotes microbial growth and premature spoiling. Determining the moisture content helps determine how long and how viable a dairy product can be used. For example; for skim milk powder (SMP), The U.S. dairy export council recommends discarding the material if it gains above 15% moisture.

With the Arizona Instrument LLC Computrac Moisture and Ash Analyzers, one instrument can be used to serve a variety of purposes. Rapid and efficient gravimetric testing of all types of dairy products can greatly improve throughput, insure the manufacturing of quality product, and avoid violating state and government regulations.

Manuel Oropeza, Chemist
Arizona Instrument LLC

No comments: