Texture News

Texture analysis of gluten-free products
Texture analysis of gluten-free products

Gluten is the complex of proteins found naturally in wheat, rye, barley, and spelt that gives elasticity to dough, helping it to rise and keep its shape. It is the ‘natural glue’ that holds food together. It is because of gluten that baked goods made with wheat have their characteristic texture, strength, and crumb structure, and other sensory properties.

Gluten performs such a valuable service, but unfortunately for a certain percentage of the population, the consumption of gluten can cause serious medical conditions such as coeliac disease, an autoimmune disorder. People with coeliac disease must avoid gluten in their diets.

An increased awareness of coeliac disease, in part, has driven interest in the gluten-free market which is projected to expand to USD 6.47 Bn in 2023 (CAGR of 7.6% from 2018). The growth in this market has also been fuelled by other consumer health trends including weight management and those that favour simpler, less processed foods.

Unsurprisingly, when gluten is removed from baked goods and other formulations, sensory properties such as taste and mouthfeel are usually compromised. Since gluten is present in a wide range of foods, it has been difficult for consumers to find gluten-free alternatives that taste good and have desirable texture properties. Consequently, manufacturers having been busy looking for different ingredient solutions that will address these problems and a wide of alternatives to their gluten-loaded counterparts are available. The potential market for gluten-free products has never been so interesting. These products do however, need to be fully assessed to make sure that their sensory range of properties meet consumer expectation.

Perhaps you are among these manufacturers? If so, you might like to receive our article ‘Applying Texture Analysis to Gluten Free Products’.

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Substantiate your product claims with texture analysis

Make sure you can back up claims with facts!

Customers are wary of manufacturers using taglines to tempt them into buying their product – a conditioner that states “hair three times suppler after first use” will not sell well if customers start using it and find no difference to their tresses.

News travels fast these days with thousands of cosmetics review sites and online shops, and products that fail to live up to their claims will be given poor marks. The manufacturers could have performed a simple bend test on hair specimens treated with their conditioner and would have found their mistake before it was too late.

The development of methods to measure the effect of cosmetics is driven by increasing pressure on cosmetic companies to provide solid evidence to support product claims.

Claims on cosmetics products need to be substantiated to protect the consumer from false advertising. False claims are not fair to the consumer and lead to scepticism over claims from all cosmetics companies, not just the ones who exaggerated their products’ abilities, and so other companies who work hard to ensure efficacy in their products will also be mistrusted. Prior use of particular ingredients or behaviour of formulations is not representative of the characteristics a new or different formulation, and so reading the literature is not enough.

Efficacy testing gives a manufacturer information on how well a product lives up to its intended use. Instrumental, clinical, sensory analysis and consumer market research are all used to substantiate efficacy claims. The inclusion of all of these methods is very important and will give useful data but instrumental is the least subjective with the least bias on human perception and consumer preference, measuring the nature and magnitude of product effect, and so it should never be skipped. Instrumental methods are precise and sensitive, but even so it can be difficult to measure the whole use of a product, which is why several instrumental methods testing different components of a product are used, and combined with sensory testing or market research.

Additionally, human perception can be correlated with machine data. Efficacy testing using instrumented methods has been of interest for decades, with the first publication of note drawing on a study on the UV absorbance of sunscreen excipients in 1947, in the first Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists. Since then efficacy testing has taken off, with subjective studies ahead of the game until the sixties when instrumental methods became more widespread, with the new difficulty of making tests reproducible between laboratories.

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Substantiate your product claims with texture analysis

Reformulating without sacrificing texture: Stratus Foods & Qualisoy
MReformulating without sacrificing texture: Stratus Foods & Qualisoy

Younger generations of consumers are frequently noted to be much more health conscious when it comes to food perhaps more than any other generation before.

As manufacturers work to offer “healthier” versions of many everyday food products with lower sugar content, different fats, and gluten-free ingredients, they may find themselves in a quandary. While consumers want “healthier” version of foods, they do not want to compromise on taste or texture. This presents a sometimes difficult challenge to food scientists. Reducing sugar, replacing one fat for another, or even switching the sourcing of a particular ingredient can change a food product’s texture sometimes slightly, sometimes dramatically. It can require many hours of experimentation to develop reformulations that come close to the physical properties of the “real” thing.

Recently, Stratus Foods and Qualisoy successfully tackled the challenge of reformulating margarines and shortenings to use U.S.-grown oleic soybean oil for pie crusts and laminated dough applications. “The results were nothing short of amazing,” said Roger Daniels, VP of Research, Development & Innovation at Stratas Foods. “We found that we achieved a new gold standard in performance without partial hydrogenation.”

Find out more in this video

Understanding the impact on texture, and the potential implications of these texture changes, is crucial in ensuring new product launches aren’t a miss with consumers. So, what can manufacturers do? Consistent, objective measurement is vital for informing reformulation and new product development, in addition to maintaining high quality standards.

Discover a range of testing options available for texture analysis assessment of foods reformulated to remove fat, salt and sugar.

Request our latest article ‘Testing texture in reformulated food’.

Measuring pasta quality parameters

A while ago we found this great article ‘Measuring Pasta Quality Parameters’.

The quality of pasta can be established by measuring a number of its characteristics which are considered the most important pasta quality parameters, such as colour, firmness during cooking and texture properties.

In this article, the methods most commonly used for measuring these parameters are described.

Click or tap here to read this article.

Amongst the recent developments from Stable Micro Systems is the Triple Ring Cutting System.

Bulk testing can now be performed with this device, which allows the determination of the textural properties of small non-uniform samples such as pasta or noodles in smaller quantities.

The design of the test head is based around a cutting array of concentric rings which provides a large cutting surface area in a relatively small device. The concentric rings cut into the sample during a test (to a chosen distance above the vessel base) and force the sample to breakdown, at which point the force during the procedure is recorded.

The Triple Ring Cutting System is a Community Registered Design and is a continuation of the ever-increasing range of innovative solutions for texture analysis.

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Meanwhile, researchers from the University of Parma have been investigating a multi-scale approach for pasta quality feature assessment.

The pasta industry has introduced in the market new pasta formulations to respond to consumers' nutritional and health needs. The resulting macromolecular, mesoscopic, and microscopic changes induced in pasta need to be evaluated.

In this work, a multi-scale screening of physico-chemical properties was performed on commercial pasta formulations (wheat semolina, whole wheat semolina, veggie, gluten free). They used their TA.XT2 Texture Analyser to perform hardness measurements on single samples.

Pasta samples showed significantly different properties. For example, wheat semolina and whole flour samples had a more pronounced viscoelastic behaviour and higher hardness. This study indicated the ability of a multi-scale approach in discriminating pastas' formulation.

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Measuring pasta quality parameters

Modifying texture can boost satiety in lower calorie foods, says researcher
Modifying texture can boost satiety in lower calorie foods, says researcher

According to a scientist at the Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture (Nofima), reshaping the texture of well-liked foods could help combat obesity and over-eating.

Quoc Cuong Nguyen's research investigates the link between sensory perception, consumer expectation and satiety and finds that changing the texture of well-liked foods, to prolong the chewing time and ensure prolonged oral exposure, could make people eat less whilst experiencing a similar level of pleasure.

Click or tap here to read more from this FoodNavigator article...

At the University of Leeds, scientists have been researching the influence of oral lubrication on food intake in a proof-of-concept study.

As overeating, overweight and obesity remain public health concerns, it is crucial to design satiety-enhancing foods that suppress appetite and lower snack intake. Existing research identifies oro-sensory targets to promote satiation and satiety, yet it remains unclear as to whether it is ‘chewing’ or ‘oral lubrication’ that might amplify satiation signals.

In this study, techniques from experimental psychology, food material science and mechanical engineering have been combined to develop model foods to investigate the role of chewing and oral lubrication on food intake. Uniaxial single compression tests were performed on the hydrogels using their TA.XT2 Texture Analyser. Results showed that snack intake was suppressed by 32% after eating the low chewing/high lubricating preload compared to the high chewing/low lubricating preload.

Hunger ratings decreased, however, differences between conditions were subtle and not significant. Thus, this proof-of-concept study demonstrates that manipulating oral lubrication is a promising new construct to reduce snack intake that merits future research in the oro-sensory satiety domain.

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Meanwhile, other researchers around the world have recently been using their Texture Analysers to investigate calorie reduction and satiety and the utilisation of fat replacers and have published their work in 2019.

For example:

· Partial replacement of meat and fat with hydrated wheat fiber in beef burgers decreases caloric value without reducing the feeling of satiety after consumption

· Rheological and pasting behavior of OSA modified mungbean starches and its utilization in cake formulation as fat replacer

· Feasibility of hydroxypropyl methylcellulose oleogel as an animal fat replacer for meat patties

· Functional and pizza bake properties of Mozzarella cheese made with konjac glucomannan as a fat replacer

Postharvest Physiology and Biochemistry of Fruits and Vegetables is a newly published book with an interesting chapter entitled 'Texture'.

“Postharvest changes are natural physiological processes occurring in all types of fruits and vegetables.

“Postharvest changes mainly influence the inner structure of the products, but are reflected in significant changes in the essential texture attributes. Thus, it is necessary to reduce inappropriate storage conditions, to satisfy consumer expectations offering high-quality purchased products.

“Inadequate storage conditions cause texture changes, dehydration, water loss, too fast ripening, and early senescence of products, which are mainly reflected as fruit softening and specific unpleasant texture attributes such as wooliness. Assuring an appropriate temperature and an adequate relative humidity during storage will slow down these negative changes, but will never improve the texture of the harvested products.

“Thus, to have the best possible fruit/vegetable texture it is essential to harvest products at the proper time and to guarantee optimum storage conditions.”

The destructive instrumental methods mentioned in this chapter include, among others: puncture, Magness-Taylor, compression, cutting, and TPA tests. According to the author of this chapter, these tests must be conducted using a texture-meter – such as the Stable Micro Systems TA.XT2i Texture Analyser.

To see a variety of probes and fixtures that can be used on the Texture Analyser for testing fruit and vegetables, click or tap here...

Click or tap here to request our article ‘A World of Food Development Possibilities with Fruit’

Postharvest Physiology and Biochemistry of Fruits and Vegetables

Texture Analysis on TV
Texture Analysis on TV

Channel 4 shows off the Texture Analyser

Stable Micro Systems have been recently given two opportunities to appear on TV, putting the TA.XTplus and TA.HDplus Texture Analysers to work to prove the differences between products.

Channel 4 documentary Food Unwrapped will soon feature the TA.XTplus in an episode where it will be employed to compare two types of french fries that KFC have just launched into their outlets. The new french fry has been designed to stay crispier for longer when purchased as a takeaway. A simple penetration test provided the result they needed to show the improvement of their new product.

In addition, the Christmas special episode of Food Unwrapped has recently featured the TA.HDplus, and our Texture Expert Paul Brown, out in the Lincolnshire fields assessing the differences between Brussels sprouts cooked with and without their ends being cross-cut.

These are just two typical examples of how a Texture Analyser is used to substantiate textural claims and to quantify the improvement/ deterioration of textural quality.

Find out more at our Beginner's Guide to Texture Analysis page...

Making Dairy product texture a priority

Consumers look for the best texture

'Making Dairy Texture a Priority' is an interesting article, published recently in Food Business News, reviewing the progress being made by major dairy product manufacturers in their efforts to make quality improvements and gain brand loyalty.

When it comes to dairy products, consumers typically expect smooth, creamy and void of standing moisture, liquid or frozen. They don’t want starchy or gummy lumps in sour cream, protein or mineral sedimentation in drinkable yogurt, or ice crystals in ice cream.

Visual cues are indicators of product texture, which in turn influences how the product feels in the mouth. This is why texture has become a focal point during the early stages of product development.

Most consumers don’t think about a food’s texture or mouthfeel unless it is inferior. Texturants can assist with delivering a product that keeps consumers coming back. 

“Texture is our first, and often our lasting impression of the food we eat,” said Brian Surratt, senior dairy applications scientist at Cargill Texturizing Solutions, Minneapolis, USA. “As a result, one of the most basic questions to answer before any development project begins is what is the intended consumer’s textural expectations and desires".

To read more on Cargill and other manufacturers' texturant solutions, click or tap here...

If you wish to request a copy of Stable Micro Systems' ‘Testing what varies in Dairy’ article, which reveals a range of new test methods developed to minimise variability in dairy foods, click or tap here...

Making Dairy product texture a priority

Food firming agents market to grow...
Food firming agents market to grow

...at a CAGR of 9+% by 2022.

Firming agents are those food additives which primarily prevent softening of processed fruits, vegetables, or fish product, especially during the process of canning.

These also provides firmness to the curd and to certain types of cheese. Increasing demand of canned food products across the globe is expected to contribute to the demand for firming agents during the forecast period. The change in lifestyles has influenced the additives market largely. Demand for proper texture, mesmerising taste and appearance have increased the use of glazing agents in bakery and confectionery segments. This has resulted in an additional demand for the overall industry.

These firming agents are most likely to be in powder form and, as such, may be prone to problems with flowability at a certain stage in the processing of the finished product. Problems such as caking, cohesion and knowing the ideal speed to push the powder through the factory with minimal disruption to output will need to be considered.

To help you assess such issues, look no further than the Powder Flow Analyser, which can be easily attached to your Texture Analyser and provide a whole new world of testing possibilities.

Click or tap here to request our new brochure covering every testing possibility for powders through to the finished product physical characteristics.

Taste, texture & temperature

The necessity of adapting food texture for patients' food intake

Getting food texture right for individual needs can make all the difference between enjoying food and being unable/unwilling to eat.

The reality for a fair number of maxillofacial surgery patients is that they will experience difficulties with eating and/or drinking of some sort during or after treatment periods, of varying degrees of severity and varying duration. Understanding the complicated processes that all need to work to perfection in order for us to be able to swallow properly as well as the role of saliva in supporting chewing and swallowing equips us with hints and ideas about how to mitigate many of these problems.

Our experience of eating is a complex mixture of contributions from different senses (taste and smell), the texture and temperature of foods, habits and social situations, our sense of (visual) aesthetics, sensual pleasures, as well as the clever ways in which nature runs our appetite in order to ensure that our bodies get the necessary nutrition. 

Concentrating on our sense of taste and the texture and temperature of food and drink is therefore a massive simplification but is helpful to gain some understanding of the interplay of food and drink with eating / swallowing. This is important to understand the normal functions, what happens when they are compromised and, hence, how one can best mitigate such difficulties by all kinds of practical tricks and how the modification of texture and temperature of foods enables oral food intake even in difficult circumstances. 

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The adaptation of texture for chemo patients is also necessary.

According to CalmerMe, the likelihood of your eating anything during chemotherapy can be improved by focusing on a meal’s texture rather than its ingredients. Different textures will work at different times for different people, so it might take a little experimenting.

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Taste, texture & temperature

Texture is ‘the next big thing’
Texture is ‘the next big thing’

According to Mintel, texture is ‘the next big thing’, in food and beverage marketing in the US and Latin America.

As companies try to keep up with demand for new products and experiences texture plays a pivotal role in how consumers experience food and beverages.

Playing up texture can make existing products more exciting and give manufacturers another tool to renovate iconic brands, which in turn can ease the pressure to constantly innovate entirely new concepts.

The Research Manager for Mintel Food & Drink in the Americas told attendees at the 2018 Food Tech Summit & Expo in Mexico that data points to the fact that 81% of consumers in France say they choose ice creams that have different textures in them, and that 52% of consumers in China say they expect indulgent biscuits not just to have a great flavour but also layers of texture.

Mintel currently tracks 25 texture attributes on product packing and has discovered that three-quarters of product introductions addressing texture focus on only five attributes: crunchy, smooth, soft, carbonated and chunky. That means that those 20 other textural attributes are out there to be taken advantage of. Clearly, texture can provide a strong point of differentiation for brands in a competitive category, which at the moment is highlighted in the bakery and snacks sectors.

To read the full article on Food Navigator USA, click or tap here...

Once manufacturers have decided that their new products need to have a textural focus they will need to measure this texture in order to provide consistency of quality and, in return, consumer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

This is where the TA.XTplus Texture Analyser is the obvious tool for the job.

If you would like to see a summary of the many different textural properties that can be measured, visit our Texture Analysis Properties page...

Or you might like to request an article which gives common examples of how a Texture Analyser can be applied to the measurement of many food products.

Texture is the final frontier of food science

More than ever, products must feel right

Tweaking texture could give us healthy versions of our favourite junk foods – and that's just the beginning.

According to a recent Popular Science article, food’s texture, called rheology, is so intricately tied to our food preferences that it’s becoming a bona fide area of study.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) uses computational models to study how food moves and interacts with all of the surfaces of the mouth – technology previously used to predict tsunamis – to help better understand the connection.

The Tsunami inside our mouths 

A lot happens inside of our mouths between the first bite and the final swallow. The tongue may gently nudge the morsel towards the central incisors – whether to the left or on the right is a matter of unconscious preference – to break food down to even smaller pieces. 

The pieces may linger there, or get shunted to the back molars, or the tongue may shift them wholly to the other side. Alternatively, pieces may rest chipmunk-style in the cheek sacs along both sides of the mouth while the molars get to work. Or, depending on the person and the food, the piece may linger on the tongue, where salivary acids let it soften a bit before chewing even begins.

Food sensory researchers from The Understanding & Insight Group, a consortium of scientists from the U.S. and New Zealand, break these chewing preferences into four categories. Chewers prefer foods that can be chewed for a long time, like gummy candy. Crunchers prefer foods that respond with a resounding crunch, like potato chips. Suckers prefer foods, like hard candy, that dissolve slowly over time. And smooshers, the laziest of all eaters, prefer soft creamy foods that spread across the mouth with minimal effort – like puddings.

Modelling this turbulent behaviour isn’t easy – traditional imaging devices don’t work so well when the subject is moving – but it’s important. “Where we put food in our mouth will affect our perception of its texture,” says Harrison. The way our mouths interact with foods affects how enjoyable we find different formulations of ingredients. Adults, for example, enjoy a complex textural experience, which is why many chocolate bars come with nuts – the texture just adds a certain something.

Psychorheology is why some people will only drink H2O if it’s sparkling. The taste isn’t any different, but it certainly seems that way, and all because of how a food’s texture impacts a food’s perceived flavour. It also explains why we think gelato tastes creamier although it actually has less fat than ice cream, and why standard chips taste so much better than baked ones—despite the decades scientists have spent tweaking the actual taste time and time again.

And therein lies the ultimate goal of the food scientists: to alter foods’ textures so that the healthy stuff tastes (or at least seems to taste) so much better than it does now.

Texture is an important indicator of a food's fat content. If we can figure out how to trick our tongues into sensing more fat than is actually present in a food, we can increase satiation while decreasing a food’s calorie count. That's why some researchers are finally turning their attention to these taste-making sensations.

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Texture is the final frontier of food science

Japanese scientists probe the mysteries of food texture
Japanese scientists probe the mysteries of food texture

Quantifying the unquantifiable

Food companies are watching with keen interest as researchers in Japan delve into the nuts and bolts of sensations like "crispness" and "springiness". Their findings are expected to lead to new and more appetising products.

Taste, aroma and appearance are important factors in determining the appeal of foods, but the finer details of the dining experience are still little understood. The researchers are working to uncover the secrets of food texture by gathering data on "mouthfeel" and the microstructures of various ingredients.

Takashi Nakamura, a professor at Meiji University in Tokyo, is conducting studies on the springy textures of various kinds of starch.

Each type has its own characteristics. Tapioca, commonly found in bead-shaped form in Asian milk tea drinks, and "waxy cornstarch," used as a thickener in Japanese sweets, are different forms of starch. Their chewiness is similar, but the "waxy" form is easier to bite through, while tapioca has greater elasticity. The experience of eating them is filtered through the senses, so formulating a numerical index presents a challenge.

Quantifying 'crispy' and 'chewy' points the way to new and better products, according to Rimi Inomata of the Nikkei Asian Review.

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Eating by texture

Eating by texture is a common type of disordered eating.

When it is not indicative of another condition, eating by texture means that an individual has decided to sort his or her food choices by the way that foods feels rather than by how it tastes or if it is required for a balanced diet.

For example, some disordered eaters may choose only foods that require chewing with the thought that this action may burn extra calories.

Other disordered eaters may choose only foods that “squish” in their mouths because they prefer that feeling to foods that “crunch.” While there is nothing inherently wrong with enjoying some textures over others, if this preference leads to eliminating foods required for healthy eating then it will adversely impact the body and overall health.

To read more of this article, written by Beth Morrisey, please click or tap here...

Eating by texture

Steak bite study could save meat industry millions
Steak bite study could save meat industry millions

Reassessment of meat texture returns dividends

An article in New Food Magazine has revealed that using their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser that mimics the human jaw, Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board experts have shown that cuts of muscle previously used for slow cooking are tender enough to be sold as fast cooking steaks.

Electronic bite testing has shown that the meat industry could save more than £7 million by re-labelling certain cuts of meat. The early trials conducted by the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) have shown that cuts graded as slower cook are tender enough to be turned into thin cut steaks.

As part of its work to increase carcass value, AHDB experts used their Texture Analyser to measure the force needed to ‘bite’ through a small sample of meat. They found that meat from muscle groups often sold as slow cook, such as chuck, are suitable for quick cook thin steaks – thus increasing their value. Early tests indicate industry could reap more than £5.2 million creating thin cut steaks from chuck and £2.5 million from the leg of mutton cut (LMC). Extensive analysis has also been carried out on beef in the US. AHDB Beef & Lamb has also identified thin cut steaks as a new means to get consumers to eat more beef. 

Mike Whittemore, Head of Trade and Product Development at AHDB, said: “British pride lies in the quality of the beef that’s produced. The ‘bite test’ uses shear force to measure tenderness, meaning that retailers could quantify quality and charge accordingly. It also helps to ensure consistency and boost consumer confidence in beef steak.” The human jaw is so sensitive it can detect a change in tenderness of just 0.5kgs.

Research with UK beef will continue, potentially offering retailers opportunity to label thin cut steaks from good through to premium, on counters across the country. Within the AHDB strategy, a target to increase the value of the English beef category by three per cent has been set. Quality is also identified as a key driver of choice for consumers.

Laura Ryan, AHDB Beef & Lamb Strategy Director, said: “This is a strategic move, allowing the wider meat industry to gain more value and improve quality from every beef carcass. The research offers processors opportunity to move cuts needing to go towards lower price options, into the higher value thin cut steak category, as and when they need.

“Most importantly, thin cut steaks meet consumer needs. Today’s busy lifestyle means people are changing their eating habits and demand ease in cooking meat of any kind. These steaks can be cooked quickly, forming part of a wide range of dishes for lunch or dinner, from stir-fries, to beef salads, to fajitas and steak sandwiches. The cut also commands a price, which both generates greater value for the producer and retailer, but remains affordable for the customer.”

Currently, there are a number of different names for quick cook steaks, including minute, sizzle and frying steaks, which can cause confusion for shoppers. Using consumer research, the name, ‘thin cut steak’ has been tested and proven to be the most effective.

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