The Cheap Refractometer

Our last purchase costed us almost 100k pesos. One device equivalent of three. Can read from zero sugar concentration up to strength of honey. Operation and calibration are tedious but it works well once the user get used to it.

There are three sugar refractometer sets. One for each, light, medium and heavy syrup. The branded for the first group was about 25k pesos. The other two cost more. Heavy syrup refractometer being the most expensive. We thought we could save if we buy the 3-in-1 tool. We realized the drawback immediately the day of its arrival. We were too noob. It took us several days to figure out the proper usage. We got used to it eventually but it is nothing like the single range device. Clean, drop, read and repeat. Elementary grade student can use after a short and simple demonstration.

For electronic devices, without particular to brand, its first gauge of quality is weight. If it’s too light in reference to size, it is probably inferior. It was made to run on bare minimum. With few parts possible, just to do its basic task. Nothing more. Things such as surge suppression, short circuit protection, line conditioner and other things that may add to functionality and doing its job better were not considered. Adding extra steel for the sake of weight is ridiculous. It will make the shipment cost shoot up for nothing.

This costed me less than 1 k. It was unbelievably cheap. I placed the order with my fingers crossed. I had very little faith on it working.

cheap refractometer

I received the item. It was very light. Nothing compared to what I used back in the laboratory. I wondered what material it was made of. Perhaps plastic with metal like coating. The alignment of prism assembly was probably poor. Low quality prism and glass which may scratch easily. Little or no calibration. All are speculations until I prove myself wrong.

It has a sleek dropper for placing sample onto prism. Screw driver for adjustment and a protective case.

It is working though. Tap water reading is zero Brix. I am going to find out the performance once the project ahead is on-going.

There are refractometers for reading other liquid properties. I gonna buy for alcohol and salt next.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Outsourcing Food Analysis

Canvassing

It is a necessary part. Getting to know first who offer the lowest possible price without sacrificing reliable result. There are other two criteria beside cost, the availability of tests and accessibility, which is nearer to my place or more comfortable to go to.

Most private companies never replied to my inquiry. Some replied with a question and never bother answering again. I feel like they are only accommodating big time companies and not small fry like me. PIPAC, Optimal Laboratories, SentroTek and SGS Philippines.

I used email as form of communication. I have been using it effectively for years now. Maybe they are not.

The two government owned replied politely. Regional Services and Testing Laboratory (RSTL) Region IVA and FNRI DOST. I chose the latter cause they have more on the list. In addition, both have price-list posted on their respective website. The price list of FNRI was not updated however.

Going there

I took the commute route. Indang, Pala-pala, Alabang, Bicutan. The FNRI Building is located inside the DOST compound. I walked from the last jeepney stop to the building. I knew it was not far and allowed me to do moderate exercise (with lot of sweat).

Upon entrance, the lady guard gave me a piece of evaluation paper. It meant I need to evaluate whoever accommodates me in lab section. It was part of their ISO according to her. I went upstairs after. They are very accommodating. A bit surprised on the computed price. It was too far beyond what I assumed based on their price list posted on website. That thing sent me to a trip outside to fill-in my budget.

The result

Due to overwhelming test request, the earliest release of result is about one month, two months the most. I requested the results emailed to once all the test are done.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

It Only Takes 3 Seconds to Analyze that Food

Do you know how long it is to quantitatively determine food properties? It may take hours to weeks depending on food type and number of target properties. Percent moisture alone takes about 15 minutes on a the most sophisticated gravimetric type instrument. Standard crude fat takes eight hours. Protein takes about five hours and over depending on sample size.

What if there is an instrument which is able to analyze food properties in just three seconds. As easy as placing the sample under the instrument then the desired properties will be displayed on monitor after three seconds. The instrument I am referring to is the Perten DA 7250 and variants. Powerful optical instruments when supplied with good calibration data.

May 30, 2013. I was one of the few persons who were invited to the product launching of “The Latest in NIR Diode Array Technology for Food, Feed and Flour Analyses”. Why was I invited was a little secret.

Discussing the topic NIR technology and the instrument, Perten 7250, seems like writing a novel so I just cite of of its advantages and shortcomings.

Strong points:
1) Fast, requires only three seconds for every analysis run.
2) Could be installed on processing lines, to monitor and adjust product composition as quickly as possible.
3) It assures product quality especially when installed on processing lines.
4) Minimize waste, product recall and rework.
5) Able to determine multiple properties with accuracy and precision.

Weak points:
1) Expensive. A single instrument cost more or less 4.7 million.
2) Every single commodity requires its own calibration model. A calibration for wheat is for wheat only and cannot be used to determine properties of coffee.
3) The same commodity of different states require separate calibration sets. A calibration data for white corn is not suitable for yellow corn.
4) Each calibration model cost more or less 700,000 pesos.

Well, if you own factories as big as San Miguel Brewery, Coca Cola Bottling and Nestle Ice Cream. Then, investing for couple of devices is very advantageous to your side. All the mentioned disadvantages have no bearing.

perten instruments posters perten 7250 on demo

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Evaluating The Dragon Fruit Flavored Yogurt

Excited to eat the dragon fruit yogurt? Or should I say a dragon fruit flavored yogurt. The latter is more correct cause there is no way the lactic acid bacteria would ferment the dragon fruit juice and puree.

drago fruit flavored yogurt

It is a dragon fruit flavored yogurt given to me by a Food Technology thesis student. A session for color acceptability test. I am puzzled, there is a yogurt and a mini teaspoon in front of me. I need to eat it and rate color acceptability after. Why not conduct a full-blown sensory evaluation test? Stop! It is out of my concerns.

The dragon fruit variety used for this yogurt was red. A strong dark red which readily stains teeth, tongue, hands and clothing if the handler is not careful. It is like a McCormick liquid dye which can make a basin of water red with few drops. I am thinking why the yogurt color was pink. Maybe she added too little dragon fruit to plain yogurt. I never perceived any dragon fruit taste either, just a plain sour yogurt.

My color acceptability verdict – moderately acceptable.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

How Moisture Analyzer Works

A moisture analyzer. Buy it and it will do the bulk of moisture analysis task for you. Several years ago, this one was acquired for over 100,000 pesos.

sartorius moisture analyzer

Do you find it expensive? May it is several thousands cheaper now!

The manual oven moisture analysis is done by: 1) Drying/taring the crucibles/moisture cans. 2) Weighing and recording each container weight. 3) Adding measured amount , e.g. 5 grams, to tared crucible. 4) Heating at 100 °C for one hour. 5) Reweighing sample. 6) Repeat heating for 15 minutes and re-weighing again until the difference between measurements is about 0.0001 g. and. 7) Compute for the percent moisture loss.

I have done moisture analysis so many times. The hard part is getting the 0.001 to 0.0001 g difference between weighing. It is hard cause the sample and container absorb moisture from air quickly after taking out from oven. Precision of analytical balance is of another issue. Weighing the same sample at few seconds interval give different results.

moisture analyzer showing the heating element and balance pan

Moisture analyzer is different. It is expensive but it makes the analysis easier. Easy procedures are as follows: 1) Place the aluminum pan on built-in weighing scale. 2) Add approximate sample weight. 3) Press “go”. 4) Wait approximately 15 minutes and read the percent moisture content on LCD screen.

How moisture analyzer works?

The machine automatically weighs the sample as it is place on the aluminum pan. Heat the sample at 100 °C. Monitor the percent lost moisture and continue heating until there is no significant loss detected. Then compute the percent moisture content for the lazy you.

 

 

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.