Using chemical imaging technology, (near infrared spectroscopy), the Sherlock Food Analyser can be fully integrated into the production line and continuously analyses product flows in real time to ensure consistent product quality.
It can be used to detect the chemical composition of a wide range of foodstuffs, as well as physical characteristics, such as size and discolouration, and the presence of foreign bodies.
Professor Dr Herbert Buckenhuskes, director of the food technology department at the Competence Center for Agriculture and Food Business of the German Agricultural Society (DLG), said it could help chip manufacturers ensure consistent product quality.
Unequal enzyme distribution in potatoes could lead to uneven browning of chips during frying as the enzymes converted potato starches into sugar, Buckenhuskes told FoodManufacture.co.uk at Anuga FoodTec in Cologne, Germany.
“That’s why you get chips that are on the one side very dark and on the other very pale – the reason is the sugar content. If you have less sugar, the browning reaction is very slow, if you have more, it’s very quick.”
Sherlock could be used to screen out potatoes with unequal enzyme activity, ensuring more consistent quality for those processed for the production of chips and crisps, he said.
In time, the machine could be developed to detect mycotoxins in wheat, removing food safety risks for consumers and improving harvest quality, but this would require further work, said Buckenhuskes.
Another future application for such machines could help produce food for people with gluten allergies and intolerances by separating wheat from oats, he said.
“A large number of people with coeliac disease are able to eat oats,” he told this site. “For a normal farm producing wheat and oats harvesting with the same machine, it’s clear you will have contamination.
“Is it possible to retrieve every [wheat] kernel from oats? People believe the Müller company has a machine which works at a degree high enough to do it.”