Measuring Quality Control in Food Manufacturing Plants

Cookies and crackers represent billions of dollars in the annual global food market, meaning they make up for a substantial amount of food purchases worldwide.

This particular area of the food market includes cracker meals, chocolate chip cookies, graham crackers, oatmeal cookies, saltines, sandwich cookies, wafer cookies and many others.

This is a field jam-packed with competition, where product quality and brand loyalty are significant factors when trying to increase market share.

Numerous large multi-national companies have a major influence over the various product segments. However, many smaller companies are also emerging with allergen/sugar-free products or cookies and crackers with gluten-free or high-end ingredients.

Process Control Analysis Points in a Cookie and Cracker Plant

Measuring Quality Control in Food Manufacturing Plants

Image Credit: KPM Analytics

Both in the lab or on the production line, NIR analysis is a tried and tested technique that delivers results for fat, protein, moisture, fiber, ash and other content and parameters simultaneously in less than a minute.

Applications for cookie and cracker production include analyzing raw ingredients and evaluating the finished product, facilitating optimization from beginning to end.

The analysis speed facilitates the total measurement of incoming ingredients and finished goods. Verification of raw ingredient suppliers is made possible, ensuring that they are delivering the highest quality materials while also protecting production and product consistency, preventing unnecessary re-work and limiting costs from the discarded product.

Final products can be carefully evaluated to guarantee product quality and enhance the manufacturing process.

How Does NIR Analysis Provide Immediate Value to Cookie and Cracker Production?

Moisture Control

Managing moisture levels of finished products – particularly when cookies and crackers exit the oven – is crucial for final product quality.

  • Too much moisture
    • Undesirable texture or mouthfeel
    • Detrimental microbiological and product stability (poor shelf life, mold, etc.)
  • Too little moisture
    • Dry texture, poor palatability
    • Negative effect on ingredients

How NIR helps: Analysis at the oven exit offers operators almost instant feedback; this allows them to adjust oven temperatures for optimal moisture levels (usually within 0.1%). This results in less product waste, generating a considerable return on investment in a limited amount of time.

Raw Ingredient Monitoring

While several manufacturers may not be entirely committed to the quality control and inspection of incoming raw materials, ingredients including corn meal, flour and whole grains (wheat, oats, rice), etc., are natural products that can vary in composition.

How NIR helps: Analysis of key ingredients can determine protein, moisture and ash content as well as other parameters to ensure the raw materials are of a high standard. This generates an increase in consistent products from batch to batch.

Final Product Monitoring

The finishing of various cookies and crackers includes an application of a spray comprised of shortening and/or sugar.

How NIR helps: NIR monitoring can ensure an appropriate amount of coating is applied as they exit the oven, allowing operators to maintain consistency when flavoring to meet consumer expectations.

Quality Control Laboratory Costs

Regular laboratory analysis of raw ingredients and finished products can typically be time-consuming and expensive for most manufacturers.

How NIR helps: Installing an at-line NIR system allows plant operators to access analytical data in real-time. This saves companies in technician resources and instrumentation, all of which can add up to thousands of dollars a month or more.

Use Data to Save Costs, Ensure Quality and Gain a Competitive Edge

A consumer’s choice to purchase a certain cookie or cracker brand is dependent on key quality control factors throughout the production process.

Fortunately, with the assistance of NIR technology, whether in the lab or on the production line, cookie and cracker producers have access to a solution that measures these factors and allows them to take complete control over their production.

Discover more about KPM Analytics’ NIR sensing solutions to help optimize the quality, flavor and consistency of cookies and crackers.

Image Credit: KPM Analytics

Image Credit: KPM Analytics

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by KPM Analytics.

For more information on this source, please visit KPM Analytics.

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