Sensors & Transducers


Accurate water activity measurement in food

February 2017 Sensors & Transducers

Free water in food products can be jointly responsible for the growth of undesirable organisms, such as bacteria or fungi, as well as chemical or biochemical reactions that react to form polymeric products, usually brown in colour and known as Maillard reactions. For this reason, it makes sense to monitor and control the water activity (aw) levels, which is defined as the current volume and availability of free water. The rate and extent of browning reactions generally increases with increasing aw until a maximum level is reached (usually 0,6-0,8 aw), followed by a decrease in browning rate with further increases above 0,85 aw.

After years of intensive research, Swiss company Novasina, specialists in water activity measurement, released a revolutionary modular, multi-channel water activity device that fulfils requirements of several organisations such as FDA and international regulations such as HACCP concerning traceability and safety of high level food.

With the LabMaster aw system, available locally through Labotec, measurements can be made with unprecedented accuracy. All the newest technologies of sensors, design, electronics and software can be integrated. Intelligent high-precision measuring cells, modular expandability, a temperature controlled chamber, easy operation and a very large working and measurement range are features to make usage easy. Many of the available functions are also innovations in this field and therefore have set new standards.

The concept of water activity is not considered a routine measurement in most food laboratories, however, safe free water levels in products does merit closer attention especially when the control of water activity levels becomes an important way to maintain the chemical stability of foods.

For more information contact Deborah Shaw, Labotec, +27 (0)11 315 5434, sales@labotec.co.za, www.labotec.co.za



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