To support the growing interest in Malvern PANalytical technologies for use in the food and drink industry, we held a joint free seminar devoted to this extremely important industry sector. This took place on Wednesday, June 8th in the Marriott Hotel Schaumburg, Chicago and saw more than 20 enthusiastic attendees from the food industry attend for an applications-focused set of presentations stressing the importance of Malvern PANalytical’s  complementary analytical techniques and the value they add to this sector.  We kicked off with a ‘Deluxe Continental Breakfast’ as befitting the attendees.

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Personally, I must say that this was one of the best (and healthiest!) seminar breakfasts I’ve ever had the pleasure to digest – and I’ve been to a few.  Yogurt and fresh blueberries, raspberries, cranberries and other fruit plus strong coffee was a great start to our day.

The application rich flavor was emphasized by the titles of the 4 talks:

  • Formulation & Stability of Thinner Systems (i.e dairy, flavorings, hazes, mayonnaise)
  • Formulation & Stability of Thicker Systems (i.e. cheese, chocolates, creams, and pastes)
  • Formulation & Stability of Solid-based Systems (i.e. powders, coffee, spices)
  • Advanced Technologies for Characterizing Food Products (Focus on PANalytical and Claisse technologies )

As you would expect, the first 3 sessions were dominated by light scattering and rheology.  I kicked off by looking at light scattering of ‘thinner systems’ such as dairy products (milk, flavors) followed by Philip Rolfe talking about the rheological aspects of food manufacture and digestion. A Kinexus rotational rheometer was present at the back of the meeting room and this stimulated many productive discussions, taking us up to a well-earned coffee break. The focus then moved onto thicker food systems (cheese, chocolates, creams, and pastes) again with Alan and Phil sharing the workload but rheology being emphasized here.

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Philip Rolfe, Technical Specialist – Rheology
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John Anzelmo, President of Claisse

Prior to lunch, the measurements of solid systems (powders such as coffee and spices) which was strongly light-scattering biased were discussed.  After another excellent meal, plus coffee and power bars (what for?  The presenters were animated enough…!) we finished the technical sessions with John Anzelmo, President of Claisse (a company acquired by PANalytical before the merger with Malvern) talking about XRF applications in a variety of foodstuffs concluding with borate fusion techniques (the strength of Claisse) for solubilizing and homogenizing materials for XRF (X-ray Fluorescence) ICP (Inductively Coupled Plasma) or AA (Atomic Absorption) analysis.

Many people stayed on for discussions with the presenters and the feedback forms were extremely positive meaning that the program will be rolled out to other parts of the US.  Our customers learned a bunch of things about the areas where Malvern PANalytical provide solutions and gained greater insight into some of the issues they commonly encounter:

The topics covered included:

  • The importance of particle size and zeta potential control for improving food stability and shelf life
  • How rheology and particle characteristics affect food texture and consistency, and how they can be determined objectively using rheometry, analytical imaging, and laser diffraction
  • How both rheology and tribology can be used to assess properties relating to flavor and mouthfeel and their utilization in product development and quality control.  We also showed how mastication could be mimicked with a Kinexus rotational rheometer!
  • How milling operations can be optimized to save energy and improve quality control in high throughput processes such as milling of coffee and spices.  This can be accomplished both in the laboratory and on-line
  • How safe and fast sample prep for elemental analysis helps verify nutritional content and detection of unexpected trace elements
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Kathy Macchiarola provided excellent marketing support for the event, dealing with registrations, walk-ins, and marketing material and had a very interesting discussion with a coffee customer at lunchtime about how shape and size of ground coffee affect the percolation and dissolution of solids (similar to soil permeability).  Peter Mekheil also helped to answer the many customer questions.

A big thank you to all attendees and presenters.  After all the food and presentations were digested, we had a lot to sate our appetites.

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