Texture is an important attribute in that it affects processing and handling, influences habits, and affects shelf-life and consumer acceptance of products.
Texture analysis is the mechanical testing of food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, adhesives and other consumer products in order to measure their physical properties.
Because of its adaptability, texture analysis has become commonplace in many industries to measure a specific or range of characteristics or properties relating to the way a material behaves, breaks, flows, sticks, bends, etc.
Click here to see examples of typical texture and physical properties that can be measured.
Major manufacturers routinely apply texture analysis techniques both in new product development and as part of quality control in all stages of manufacture, carrying out a wide range of measurements to analyse raw materials or excipients, semi-finished goods, packaging and finished products.
It is a cost-effective method to determine the effects of raw material or excipient quality or the adjustment of formulation or processing variables on end product acceptability – whether this is to measure the 'mouth feel' properties of food, the flow properties of creams and pastes, the break or bend of a product or the tackiness of adhesives.
Where problematic textural issues occur during storage or transportation, texture analysis can provide a useful assessment. It may also prove to be an effective means of comparison with competitive products, or where claims substantiation is necessary to take a technical pro-active stance in your market.
It will certainly prove an indispensable tool when you need to quantify the texture or overall physical properties of your 'gold standard' product for future comparison in manufacture – the key to maintaining consistent textural quality!
How a Texture Analyser works
Stable Micro Systems offers the most universal Texture Analysers available today – the TA.XTplus and TA.HDplus 'World Standard' instruments – to completely satisfy the increasing demands for accurate, repeatable and quantifiable textural information. They assess textural properties by capturing force, distance and time data at high speed – data which is then displayed graphically by Exponent software.
In a simple test, the arm of the texture analyser containing the loadcell moves down to penetrate or compress the product, and then returns to its initial position whilst measuring forces in both directions.
Typical applications – the possibilities are endless...
Many texture analysis tests, such as the Bloom Strength test for gelatin gels, are International Standards, whereas others are recognised as standard tests within an industry, such as Texture Profile Analysis for many food products.
To be successful, all of these tests depend upon the integrity of the Texture Analyser and the selection of the correct testing method, the manufacturing precision of the probe or attachment used and the accuracy of the analytical software to provide the results in a clear, concise format.
The TA.XTplus Texture Analyser with its wealth of application methods and the range of over 200 probes and attachments are the result of decades of experience in the design and manufacture of this equipment.
The choice of probe or fixture that you use will depend upon the sample's form, the property that you wish to measure or the action that you wish to perform. Fixtures are available to provide the required action of compression, extrusion, cutting, extending or bending on the sample or to support, anchor or deform the sample in a customer-specific way.
The main goal of many texture studies is to devise one or more mechanical tests with the capacity to replace human sensory evaluation as a tool to assess texture. Measurements that yield both fundamental and empirical product characteristics are well developed, whilst wide-ranging imitative test procedures are also becoming increasingly important. Their relevance is in imitating a real-life situation, which permits far simpler data interpretation.
Sensory Analysis vs. Texture Analysis
Sensory analysis includes use of the senses of smell, taste, sound and touch. Evaluation of food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic texture by touch includes the use of the fingers, as well as the lips, tongue, palate and teeth in the mouth.
As would be expected, sensory methods of analysis are subject to wide variability, are labour intensive and therefore expensive. Instrumental methods of assessing texture can be carried out under more strictly defined and controlled conditions. Problems of experimental variability are more likely to be caused by sample heterogeneity than by instrumental imprecision.
Another reason for instrumental analysis may be that often changes in ingredient levels cause several simultaneous changes in product characteristics. Some of these changes are difficult to mask and thus tend to make sensory analysis difficult.
We can all feel it – let us show you how to measure it!