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WHAT IS NIR AND HOW IS IT USED IN FOOD TESTING?

WHAT IS NIR AND HOW IS IT USED IN FOOD TESTING?

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Introduction to NIR Measurement

Near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy is a food testing method that provides rapid, precise results. NIR measurement is a popular food and drinks analysis technique that is easy to use low cost, and environmentally friendly compared with chemical analysis.

This essay on NIR measurement discusses how NIR performs, what it measures, and why it is such a reliable way to examine food.

Essential Quality Control for Foodstuffs

Food security and quality a major concern in the food and beverage, as well as agricultural industries. Meat and alcoholic beverages are two of the most frequently adulterated products in both sectors.

Food that is readily accessible on a national and global basis must be trusted by both multinational and local businesses.

NIR measurement is effective in the quality control of a wide range of foods and food products, including:

  • Ingredients and additives are two terms that you’ll need to learn.
  • Food labelling: Composition analysis
  • Accurately detecting food fraud
  • Increasing the efficiency of labour and production.

What is Infrared Energy?

Infrared radiation is electromagnetic energy produced by molecule vibration. It is both radiant and undetectable to the human eye.

Every item radiates some amount of infrared (IR) radiation. When atoms absorb the released energy, they produce frequencies that emit energy as IR. The electromagnetic infrared spectrum, like the visible light spectrum, has a wide variety of wavelengths, ranging from shorter near-infrared waves to longer far-infrared waves.

Infrared radiation in the near-infrared (NIR) wavelength range is closer to visible light on this spectrum and does not produce measurable heat.

Infrared Sensing Applications

Infrared spectroscopy is a highly effective method of sensing and detecting. Electronic sensors in infrared cameras and night-vision goggles are just two examples of typical applications. Infrared spectroscopy measures infrared emissions from materials at particular wavelengths. The IR bandwidth of a substance, which displays peaks and dips where electrons in molecules emit or absorb light photons.

NIR is an acronym for Near-Infrared, and it refers to a band of wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum. Various instruments may be used to examine materials in NIR measurement, which is related to the infrared spectrum.

How NIR Measurement Works

The electromagnetic spectrum’s NIR region ranges from 700 to 2500 nanometres’ spectroscopy takes measurements of light scattered off and through the sample material, allowing for rapid analysis of the material’s properties.

The NIR analysis of the material does not affect it. The information is converted into data for further action in the field of research, quality control, or production. This type of analysis works with little or no sample preparation and may measure many parts at once. It can also examine irregular surfaces effectively. 

What Can NIR Measure? 

In the food and beverage, agricultural, and chemical industries, NIR spectroscopy is most utilized to calculate food content such as protein, carbohydrate, moisture, fat, food oils, and various polymers. Colourants (ingredients), modifiers (additives), and stabilizers are all common in the food manufacturing industry.

Grains have a variety of characteristics. NIR can detect organic, pure chemicals as well as certain inorganic minerals and salts as a quality assurance and control technique.

These substances include:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Vitamins and macronutrients
  • Enzymes
  • Amino Acids
  • Emulsifiers
  • Fats and fat replacers
  • Preservatives
  • Stabilisers, binders and thickeners
  • Sweeteners and sugar replacements.

What NIR Measurement Tells Us About Food

Different chemicals in food give off distinct infrared radiation. As a result, NIR measurement may be used to identify the proportion of these substances present in a specific food compound.

It’s all about the balance of these components. It may, for example, indicate the proportion of moisture or fat.

The concentration of these elements is represented by the various degrees of intensity of specific infrared hues. But what causes these compounds to have different IR colours?

Different NIR Processes

Reflectance and transmission are the two methods for measuring NIR. The procedure you use depends on the item you wish to examine. Different chemical bonds absorb different infrared light wavelengths, hence various compounds give off distinct IR colours.

The reflectance process involves reflecting light from the sample, measuring its absorbent qualities by how much light is reflected.

The infrared radiation passes through the sample and measures how much it absorbs, in transit.

For example, transmission is ideal for determining food ripeness and checking for pests or flaws. It’s also useful for measuring fat and protein content in a variety of dairy products; as well as wine quality, including tannin level.

Reflectance is useful for estimating the protein, moisture, and oil content in whole grains.

Non-destructive Analysis 

It might be difficult to interpret and analyse mass food items while keeping the subjects unaffected. NIR measurement is an ideal solution for bulk analysis of foods such as grains, fruit, meat, and fish.

NIR light can penetrate far into the interior of foods to examine their composition. When picking unpolished grains, it’s especially important.

The Importance of Calibration

The parameters of the substance being measured must be discovered by a NIR measurement instrument. For accuracy, the device must be calibrated through a comparison of its initial IR data with reference analysis data.

The procedure is described in the form of a mathematical formula. The instrument takes a first infrared absorption reading of something it has never previously examined. This is when the instrument’s equation to self-calibrate for future readings originates.

Although most instruments for NIR measurement have pre-set factory calibrations, there are many calibration methods available to you which use to generate the required algorithm for a specific calibration.

Basic multi-linear regression (MLR) and partial least squares (PLS) are two common methods used to calibrate instruments.

NIR Accuracy

There is a certain amount of variation in all analytical techniques, and NIR has an accuracy of 1.5 times the fluctuation of the reference method on which it is based. Modern NIR measurement technology employs highly precise prediction equations based on large databases that include comprehensive NIR to wet-chemistry comparisons. NIR is a fast, accurate method for analysing and testing multiple samples.

Bringing the Lab to the Sample

NIR measurement instruments are continuously improving and becoming more flexible and portable. A new generation of handheld analysers has made NIR measurement even easier.

The Spectrolytic Oil Seed Analyser, for example, is a highly precise device that can analyse both liquid and solid food samples. NIR instruments that are cutting-edge today may allow for the fast, large-scale analysis of both liquid and solid food samples.

Labelling is the practice of affixing a distinctive identifier to each component of food items to facilitate tracking, inventory management, and quality control. Labelling serves an important function throughout the supply chain from raw materials to intermediate and finished food and drink goods.

NIR measurement provides the following key advantages for a wide range of food manufacturers and industry experts:

  • It minimizes waste by eliminating the need for sample preparation.
  • There are no errors caused by conventional lab testing.
  • It’s a versatile chemical instrument that can be used to test for the presence of a wide range of solids and liquids.
  • NIR is a highly successful and quick technique for analysing many components.
  • Instruments are simple to use and do not require any skills.

Contact Calibre Control

For further information, why not contact calibrecontrol.com.

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