The quality of food products & beverages is the driving force that imparts the first impression of your brand. It is quintessential to survivability in today’s competitive market. This is the ‘health card’ of your product that consumers are interested in these days. Manufacturing and processing companies must comply with the national and international regulatory bodies like FSSAI, BSI, APEDA, Export Inspection Council (EIC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

The proximate analysis is a manifesto of quality control to assure the moisture content, protein, fat, fiber, carbohydrate, ash, and other components in the food and food products. It also ensures the development of the food and food product quality and regulatory compliance for the first line of the branding name. The essential characteristics such as physio-chemical, nutritional content, texture, structure, and sensory attributes of food decide the product’s success in the modern market. It is also essential to test parameters that must add to the label of food products to help consumers choose for their nutritional diet requirements.

Several standard methods developed or validated for proximate analysis are available as per published guidelines by ISO 17025, such as FSSAI, BIS, AOAC, AOCS, AACC, USDA, and USP.

The Various Categories of Proximate Testing are as below:

Moisture Analysis:

Food products’ moisture can be estimated by Oven Dry Method, Karl Fischer-Moister analysis method, Moister analyzer, and others. This is one of the essential testing parameters to ensure the product’s quality and shelf life-determining factor; first, all of that water is bound to the ingredients in the food, and the second one is the unbound free water activity (Aw), ranging from 0 (Bone dry) to 1(pure water), which represents microbial growth. The relationship between water activity and total moister content to the relative humidity of food and food products is complex. Moreover, it also affects the weight of products which impacts the cost of the products. We need to determine moisture content for each specific food matrix.

Protein Analysis:

One of the most important essential nutrient labeling and testing parameters to determine the amount of protein present in food products is by estimating the total nitrogen content in the foodstuff. There are two main methods as Dumas method uses an organic matrix, and the Kjeldahl process uses a digestion and distillation system for quantitative protein estimation. The combustion method has chances of contamination with non-protein nitrogen. These are methods in which total nitrogen leaches into the sample at elevated temperatures. The Bradford method and the Amino Acid Profile method have been used for both quantities and qualitative protein analysis. This method uses a sophisticated machine such as Liquid Chromatography-Mass spectrometric, HPLC (porous graphitic carbon column/ C18 Column), and MALDI-TOF-MS system, which are widely used for the identification of proteins known as Peptide Mass Fingerprinting (PMF).

Fat Analysis:

This is also one of the essential nutrients on labeling in food items. Modern consumers are much more aware of choosing fat according to their diet, so labeling fat content in food and food products is vital. The total fat and fatty acid profiling to ensure the healthiness of food products depends on consumers’ requirements as per their diet chart. For example, the nutritional labeling of PUFA, MUFA, Saturated fatty acids (SFA), and trans-fatty acid (TFA) in oil/fat is the primary driving force in screening clients’ or consumers’ choices. Several parameters, such as physio-chemical and chemicals, ensure the quality of food products that depend on the food matrix. The solvent extraction method is one of the standard methods for estimating lipid content in food and food products. However, these days, various rapid instrumental methods are conducted for lipid profiling, such as Microwave-assisted solvent extraction, Supercritical fluid extraction (SFE), IR- spectroscopy, and Gas-liquid chromatography (GLC).

Ash Analysis:

The authenticity and purity of the sample of food or food products can be evidenced by total ash estimation, acid insoluble ash, and water-soluble ash. The ash refers to total mineral contents and inorganic residue remaining after the complete oxidation of organic matter. It is also an essential part of the proximate analysis.

Carbohydrate analysis:

 This is the vital nutritional information that plays a crucial role in labeling food and food products. The quality of food products entirely depends on different types of the carbohydrate content in the food products, such as mono and oligosaccharides, reducing sugar, fructose, sucrose, arabinose, galactose, glucose, xylose, mannose, and others. The most common method is acid hydrolysis of polysaccharides using sulphuric acid and digested sample analysis by liquid chromatographic (HPLC). The sophisticated instrument also provides an excellent analysis of monosaccharides as High-Performance Anion Exchange Chromatography with a Pulsed Amperometric Detector (HPAEC-PAD), subsequently referred to as Ion Chromatography (IC), or by using Gas Chromatography with a Flame Ionization Detector (GC-FID)

Dietary fiber Analysis:

 Dietary fiber has a physiological benefit to humans and keeps a healthy digestive system; nutritionists and dieticians have significantly referred it for a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, it is vital to label nutritional facts of food and food products. It is made of cellulose, lignin, hemicellulose, pectins, and hydrocolloids, which are water-soluble, and some are water-insoluble. The total dietary fiber is estimated by an enzymatic-gravimetric method using enzymes such as ∝-amylase and amyloglucosidase.

Cultivator Phyto Lab helps food and beverage manufacturers through accurate, precise, and timely proximate analysis of their products. It provides complete turnkey solutions related to food labeling requirements for companies worldwide to ensure compliance within all markets. The company’s accurate and transparent results can help companies ensure compliance with governing bodies and enhance consumer outreach. The firm also offers regulatory translations, recipe checks, and other services related to food nutritional analysis and food nutritional labeling tests.

Author : Sandeep Sharma & Dr. Sanjoy Gupta