Product testing

Product testing, whether compositional or microbiological, will always be a requirement for both new and existing products. At FTC we can cover all these requirements, either in our well-equipped laboratory or via our network of accredited testing service providers.

Nutritional testing

The nutritional content of our food products is under increasing scrutiny with concerns over the health of the nation, with the focus on informing consumers to assist in their choice of product. A nutritional declaration on food packaging becomes a compulsory requirement in December 2016, clearly stating values for fat, saturated fat, carbohydrate, sugars, protein and salt, as representative of the final consumed product. If desired, additional nutrients can also be declared: mono-unsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, polyols, starch and fibre. Certain vitamins and minerals can also be declared if present in specified significant amounts. The declaration is presented per 100g or 100ml of the product, although it can in addition be declared on a per-portion basis.

At FTC we can provide a full nutritional breakdown of your product to suit your requirements. These are normally obtained by laboratory analysis. For certain products, where the nutritional values of the ingredients are known or can be obtained from established data, the declaration can be calculated.

Laboratory services

The analytical laboratory at FTC is well equipped to enable the characterisation and compositional assessment of food products to be carried out, assisting in a better understanding of processing technology, techniques and product performance in the market place. The laboratory also provides research into product and ingredient functionality within food systems.

The following services can be accessed via FTC:

  • Nutritional analysis
    • Fat, carbohydrates, protein, salt, energy, salt, vitamins, minerals
  • Milk compositional analysis
    • Fat, protein, lactose, total solids, solids-non-fat
  • Milk analysis
    • Antibiotics, phosphatase, freezing point depression
  • Alcohol (abv) analysis
  • Soluble solids (°brix)
  • Moisture analysis
  • Water activity and ph assessment
  • Texture and viscosity analysis
  • Allergen testing
  • Trace metals and natural toxins
  • Fat analysis (rancidity and free fatty acids)
  • Caffeine analysis
  • Meat and milk species testing
  • Adulteration and authenticity testing
  • Pesticide analysis
  • Brewing and malting services

Microbiological testing

The FTC has the advantage of a food microbiological testing laboratory on site, the Marine Biological and Chemical Consultants (MBCC). This service offers full traceability and UKAS accreditation.

Microbiological testing forms a vital part of the new product development process, verifying the procedures used along each step of the process. Routine testing of manufactured products is also a crucial part of every company's food safety system.

Microorganisms of concern in food products include both pathogens, which can cause illness, and spoilage microorganisms that can cause significant deterioration and leave food unfit for consumption. Examples of pathogens are Salmonella species, Listeria monocytogenes, E. Coli 0157. Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium perfringens. Spoilage microorganisms can include Enterobacteriaceae, yeasts and moulds. Total Viable Counts (TVC) provide a useful quality measure of the food.

The FTC team can advise on which microorganisms are appropriate for testing within any type of food product. They will also provide a full interpretation of testing results in conjunction with current EU and UK legislation requirements and guidelines.

Shelf life

Having developed a new product, testing is required to determine the use-by or Best-before durability indication for consumers. Two aspects need to be addressed, firstly to assess the quality of the product (taste, appearance, aroma), then secondly to determine the safety aspect, by microbiological testing over the predicted shelf life whilst storing the product under the specified conditions. Some products also require a 'use-within x days' determination after opening.

It is also good practice to occasionally validate the allocated shelf life with further testing, especially if there have been any changes in manufacture. Staff at FTC can carry out shelf life testing to meet your requirements and give a full interpretation of the results.