Food Safety: Chemistry Testing

Written by Michelle Tsamba - AssureCloud Team
31 Jan 2022

When you think of food products, do you think of chemicals? As a food or beverage manufacturer you should. Food chemistry – or chemistry testing to be more specific – plays a significant role in food safety and quality

Sending your products to a chemistry testing lab is not only a necessity, but it can be beneficial to you. Remember, consumers are loyal to products that have consistently good quality. 

But, before you can get started, you must have a solid understanding of chemistry testing. So, here’s what you need to know. 

The meaning of chemistry testing 

Food chemistry testing is the process of confirming the contents of the product. That’s the basic definition. 

To dig deeper, it involves analysing samples of products to find various elements or specifications. For instance, chemistry testing can tell you how much of each macronutrient – like carbs, proteins and fats – are in your product. The process can also indicate whether there are allergens, heavy metals or toxic substances present and it can tell you the levels of moisture in the item.  

All of this helps you to ensure that your produce is safe for human consumption, and that it is of good quality. 

The laws on chemistry testing 

The law doesn’t say “you must do chemistry testing” in so many words. However, there are laws that necessitate chemistry testing. 

For example, the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants act, 1972 (Act 54 of 1972) requires that all products come with nutritional labels. To get the information for these labels, you must do nutritional profiling and, that is a form of chemistry testing. 

Essentially, the law requires you to name the components present in your product and list the amounts of each per food item. This is exactly what is done in a chemistry lab. 

Further, you will have to provide information about additives, preservatives, sweeteners, colourants, allergens and more, on your product. There are also laws on the number of preservatives and antioxidants allowed in products. Chemistry testing can help you comply with regulations in this case too. 

The same goes for toxins.  Certain toxins like mycotoxins and biotoxins – and heavy metals like mercury – can be very harmful when consumed. You are required to ensure that your products are free of these compounds, or only contain them in extremely small amounts.

The benefits of chemistry testing 

Apart from the fact that you need to do chemistry testing to ensure that you’re abiding by regulations and standards, there are other reasons to do it too. 

  1. Safety – By doing chemistry testing, you can ensure that you keep consumers safe. 
  2. Reputation – As a result of the above, you can avoid having to recall products and thus avoid damage to your reputation and financial damage.
  3. Taste – The process can also assist you in finding a balance between ensuring safety and making your products tastier. 
  4. Product performance – You can also ensure better quality in terms of shelf life and longevity. Chemistry testing also allows you to improve the appearance and texture of your product.
  5. Operational improvement – Testing your products can also reveal presence of harmful chemicals in your facility. 
  6. Consumer trust – When you produce consistently good products and provide accurate labelling, people are likely to trust you more and keep coming back. 

The risks of not doing chemistry testing 

If you decide against chemistry testing your products, you could end up in a lot of trouble. You will also lose all the benefits mentioned above. 

You risk making people sick, financial loss, and even may face legal battles. Learn the lesson from other people’s mistakes. For example, a beverage manufacturer had to recall its juice brand due to the presence of patulin (a mycotoxin) in some of the products. A recall involves a lot of work and a lot of refunding. It could also be a PR crisis if you aren’t careful. It’s best you avoid this at all costs. 

Bringing it all together

Sampling and testing your products may seem tedious. And, you may be put off by the additional expense. But the fact is that you can’t do without it. What’s more is that the benefits out-weigh the costs, so it’s more than worth it. Contact AssureCloud to learn more. 

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