Malvern at PittconI’m currently at Pittcon, the annual laboratory science conference and expo.  This year it’s in New Orleans, not too far from our factory in Houston.  Since New Orleans is known for its Cajun food and the Food Labs conference is going on at the same time, it made me think of the ways OMNISEC, our latest Gel Permeation Chromatography/Size Exclusion Chromatography (GPC/SEC) system can be used to support work in the food industry.

I’m sure you know that there are plenty of polysaccharides in processed foods but did you know how much work and analysis goes into the development and quality control?

Some of the most common ones are pectins, Guar and Xanthan gums and gum Arabic, as well as alginates and starch derivatives like maltodextrin.  Coming from natural sources, the variation in molecular weight, structure, purity, and recovery are all significant meaning making consistent product can be quite difficult.

pectinLet’s take pectin as an example.  Pectin comes from the flesh and skins of citrus fruits and also from apples.  But pectin from each fruit or region or season is all going to be slightly different.  Pectin is used as a thickening/gelling agent as anyone who has ever made some homemade jam or jelly will know.  It should be fairly intuitive that a different molecular weight or structure could significantly affect gelling performance, making keeping a recipe consistent very difficult.  One day the jelly could be too hard or gel too quickly, the next it could be too weak and you might find it separates or doesn’t gel at all.

That’s where GPC comes in.  By measuring the different samples, during and after production, consistency can be maintained.  This could mean targeting different grades to different uses or it could mean blending different grades to consistently manufacture a stable product.  Companies that make products like pectin are routinely using GPC/SEC to characterize and qualify their polysaccharide samples like this ultimately to get you the best jelly, yoghurt, dessert or any other product.

So next time you’re thinking about how smooth the consistency of your jam or jelly, or the smoothness of your yoghurt or countless other processed foods, remember the technology and the level of analysis that goes into getting it just right for you.

If you’re at Pittcon, come along and check out the OMNISEC system on our booth, number 3545.  You also still have the chance to attend our short course on the Fundamentals of Advanced Gel Permeation and Size Exclusion Chromatography Detection, which takes place at Pittcon on Thursday – click here for details.  If you’re not lucky enough to be in New Orleans this week, then playback this online demo to find out more.

Resources:

Understanding the effect of molecular weight and structure on the performance characteristics of cellulose derivatives using OMNISEC

OMNISEC live launch: The future of SEC is here!

OMNISEC: Your questions answered