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Food Authentication Systems

Supplier: Australian Innovative Engineering

Authenticity is an important food quality criterion. Rapid methods for confirming authenticity or detecting adulteration are increasingly demanded by food processors, consumers and regulatory bodies.

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Visible and Infrared Spectroscopy has recently been successfully applied to this problem. Sampling is quick, can be done continuously on line, and is non invasive with no sample preparation time.

Spectroscopy is the study of how electromagnetic radiation interacts with matter, either in transmission, reflection or a combination of both.

Different segments of the electromagnetic spectrum are used depending upon the material being sampled and the quality attribute being measured. In order of wavelength they are UV/Visible, Near Infrared, and Mid Infrared.

Generally they don’t overlap and different instruments are used to measure each wavelength segment.

The NIR spectrum originates from radiation energy transferred to vibration energy associated with the motion of atoms held together by chemical bonds in a molecule.

NIR covers part of electromagnetic spectrum in the wavelength range 780 nm to 2500 nm. The technique is based on the measurement of reflected or transmitted light by the sample.

The sample to measure is first illuminated by a light source with a wavelength range between 800 to 2500 nm. Then the light reflected or transmitted by the sample is collected by a spectrometer and transformed into a spectrum.

NIR spectra of samples comprise broad bands arising from overlapping absorptions corresponding mainly to overtones and combinations of vibration modes involving C-H, O-H and N-H chemical bonds. (See figure 2).

These chemical bonds between atoms in molecules vibrate and this vibration behaves as a simple harmonic motion. When the frequency of the radiation matches that of the vibrating molecule, there will be a net transfer of energy from the radiation to the molecule which can be measured as a plot of energy versus wavelength called a spectrum as shown in Figure 1.

A Spectrometer is the instrument used to measure the radiation after it has interacted with the food sample and present the data as intensity values for each wavelength of the radiation segment.

This array of data (figure 1) is called a “Spectra” and is used to determine specific food attributes or used as a signature to determine contamination.

The science of converting the collected Spectra to a useful quantitative or qualitative result is called Chemometrics. A computer attached to the Spectrometer will use the collected Spectra and apply a model determined by Chemometrics to get a result.

A plot of predicted values versus measured values is used to evaluate the model (see figure 3), and statistical measures of RMSEP and R are used to quantify its performance.

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