Test Equipment and Measurement Instrument Blog

Control Water Content to Protect Integrity of Snack and Baked Foods

Posted by John Bogart on Wed, Oct 21, 2015 @ 09:10 AM

snackfoodsEveryone has their favorite go-to snack or comforting baked good craving. Statistics show that 94% of Americans snack on a daily basis. Whether it is chips, chocolate, candy, or anything in between, no consumer can resist a good snack. While it’s important for food manufacturers to worry about perfecting the taste of their food products, it’s equally important to maintain the optimal moisture content. Snack and baked food products are particularly sensitive to moisture — the wrong moisture levels can lead to food spoilage, sogginess, staleness, and even altered taste. 

Though some manufacturers have made nonsense of the idea to increase profits by selling products with the maximum amount of air and water possible, in reality there’s a very slim margin in which this excess moisture can benefit manufacturers. All it takes is less than a one percent difference to throw the moisture content equilibrium out of balance, greatly increasing the risk of food spoilage. That being said, advances in electronic engineering now allow food manufacturers to instantly and accurately analyze the moisture content of their products in all stages of the production process. Using these moisture measurement tools, like our KJT270F instant inline sensor, manufacturers can find the perfect balance of moisture in their products (all the way down to a fraction of a percentage point!) and ensure their product’s integrity.

To help your company create high-quality snacks and baked foods with the perfect taste and texture, keep these three critical areas in mind to maintain the integrity of your products:

Taste

Let’s face it: when it comes to food, taste is the number one deciding factor to consumers. If your snacks and baked goods are not flavorful, there is a slim chance customers will buy them again. Though some may not recognize the relationship of moisture content and taste, the flavor and mouthfeel of your product will both be off if there is excessive or insufficient moisture. For example, low-fat food products are especially impacted by moisture, as their formulations tend to hold more water than their full-flavor counterparts. In order for food manufacturers to find the perfect taste and mouthfeel when formulating low-fat products, it’s essential to have the right moisture content so products are not excessively damp or diluted.

Texture 

One of the most noticeable ways moisture content affects food products is with the texture. Too much moisture can create a soggy product — and too little moisture can cause dryness and crumbling. When it comes to snack foods and baked goods, texture is a highly important characteristic. For example, crackers and chips are valued for their crispness. If chips are too moist, the desirable crunch consumers are seeking will be absent. When working with fried products – a popular cooking method for snacks – it’s important to adequately drain and remove the excess oil to prevent sogginess and rancidity. The oil content can simultaneously be measured (with water) with our KJT line of composition analyzers. On the other hand, baked goods are exposed and cooked through dry heat, creating potentiality for a parched or stale product.

Shelf Life

Last, but not least, shelf life is greatly affected by moisture content, especially in cases involving excessive moisture. The greater amount of water a product contains increases the chances for mold and pathogen development, allowing for escalated degradation and a shortened shelf life. As we’ve discussed before, the financial consequences for food spoilage are often the most devastating. Not only are you responsible for any recalls and refunds, but you must also deal with the negative brand reputation and decreased consumer confidence. By using a moisture measurement device like our FD720 moisture balance, snack and baked food manufacturers can find the optimal moisture content levels needed to maximize shelf life, and minimize pathogen growth.

It is essential for food manufacturers interested in creating snack and baked food products with the best possible taste, texture, mouthfeel, and shelf life to test and monitor the moisture content of products at multiple stages of the production process. From the incoming raw ingredients to the finished packaged product, moisture content needs to be carefully monitored and perfected to ensure the highest possible food quality. At Kett, our food moisture testing instruments are world-renowned for their accuracy, reliability, and ease of use. We offer world-class testing instruments for just about every application in the food industry, and our qualified engineers can work with you to find the perfect tool for your specific needs. Want to learn more about the benefits of moisture content analysis in the food industry? Download our free eBook, “A Guide to Finding an Accurate and Reliable Moisture Meter.”

Moisture Meter

 

Topics: KJT270F, KJT series