ARTICLE

Delivering Robust Methods for Nutritional Labeling

Introduction

Robust, Reliable and Resilient - Ensuring your nutritional testing capabilities meet the growing needs of the dairy industry.

For today’s consumer, the pursuit of health and wellness are on-going commitments which heavily influence other aspects of their life. As consumers become more aware of the impact their diet plays in their overall health, there is a growing demand for food products rich in vitamins and minerals to meet their lifestyle-based goals. Additionally, with tightening label regulations and increasingly diverse retailer specifications, the need for robust methods for nutritional testing within the dairy industry has never been greater.

Robust, Reliable and Resilient - Ensuring your nutritional testing capabilities meet the growing needs of the dairy industry.

For today’s consumer, the pursuit of health and wellness are on-going commitments which heavily influence other aspects of their life. As consumers become more aware of the impact their diet plays in their overall health, there is a growing demand for food products rich in vitamins and minerals to meet their lifestyle-based goals. Additionally, with tightening label regulations and increasingly diverse retailer specifications, the need for robust methods for nutritional testing within the dairy industry has never been greater.

The Test of Time

Determining the nutritional content is an essential step within any new product development process. By gaining a deep understanding of a product’s compositional characteristics, dairies can ensure that their products meet regulatory limits and customer demands. To guarantee analytical accuracy, it is important for dairy labs to optimize their testing workflow from the very beginning of the procedure.

On first impression, sample preparation may seem the most routine aspect of an analytical protocol. However, to ensure precise nutritional measurements, reliable methods for sample preparation play an integral role, as they directly affect downstream analytical results. Current estimates show that 30% of analytical errors originate from the sample preparation step, demonstrating the need for intuitive methods for reliable sample preparation.

For dairy labs, sample preparation can present a huge challenge, especially when determining the content of trace metals and minerals. This is because dairy product matrices are complex and often contain compounds that can interfere with analysis, such as bioactive peptides. Furthermore, with consumer trends encouraging the production of additional and more complex dairy products, it is vital for analysts to develop robust methods that reach even lower detection levels in increasingly challenging environments.

Due to the complications that result from such intricate matrices, complete decomposition of dairy samples by microwave digestion or heating block acid digestion is generally recommended. However, these approaches are more time-consuming and require a more demanding approach to ensure quality control.

To overcome these challenges, it is vital for dairy labs to collaborate with instrument providers to develop intuitive methods for faster, cleaner, and less expensive sample preparation that fulfil their needs.

Novel Products, New Problems, Innovative Solutions

In recent years consumer awareness of the concept of 'hidden hunger' - the deficiency of certain vitamins and micronutrients despite eating enough calories - has increased rapidly. Milk and dairy products have the ability to address the challenges surrounding this concept.

From a dietary standpoint, dairy products are convenient sources of essential vitamins and minerals, due to their nutrient-dense nature. As a result of this, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommends all Americans to consume 3 cup-equivalents of dairy products daily, to ensure an adequate intake of key nutrients including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamins A and D.

However, as consumers become more conscious about the relationship between their diet and health, micronutrient enrichment in dairy products is becoming increasingly popular. Additionally, newer and tighter regulations mean food labs must be confident that their nutritional claims relating to fortified nutrients are based on accurate and reliable results.

Selenium is a key example of the challenges that both dairy labs and manufacturers face when addressing the market need for nutrient-enhanced foods. Although it is toxic in large doses, selenium is an essential micronutrient and deficiency can lead to breast, prostate, and lung cancers. Furthermore, selenium nutrition is not only judged by total dietary intake; it is also crucial to monitor the speciation of ingested selenium. The toxicity of selenium depends on the chemical form or species in which it occurs. For example, the pro-oxidant effects of inorganic selenium have been linked to liver tumors.

In industrialized countries, meat provides about half of the dietary selenium, but as consumers turn away from traditional ‘meat-based’ diets it is vital that they are provided with other ways to meet their recommended selenium intake levels. In recent years there has been increasing research into enriching fermented dairy products for selenium nutrition, this is because the microorganisms responsible for milk fermentation have also been shown to bio-transform potentially harmful inorganic selenium to its nutritional organic species.

Maximize efficiency, Minimize Problems

For food labs, it can be difficult to ensure processes are in place to meet the needs of new products with complex formulations. Without the required in-house expertise or technology, monitoring the concentration of trace metals and their individual species can be challenging for even the biggest dairy lab. As such, optimizing internal quality control is a key goal. By implementing intuitive and robust food development and quality procedures, industry stakeholders can guarantee their analytical procedures can handle the need for low determination of multiple species.

In recent years, nutritional analysis has grown in importance as a result of international regulations and legislation, consumer demand and globalization of the food market. Additionally, food labels are now recognized as playing a pivotal function in communicating nutritional information to consumers and are considered to have the potential to influence food choice and dietary behavior. By ensuring your capabilities for nutritional analysis meet the rapidly evolving needs of the market you can guarantee all products that pass through your lab are safe, meet the relevant regulations and stand out to potential consumers.

References:

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