The diversity of foodstuffs with their often very different product properties represents a real challenge for food testing laboratories. Before the actual analysis, the sample materials – which can vary strongly with regards to hardness and moisture – need to be homogenized and reduced to a sufficiently small particle size. RETSCH’s GRINDOMIX knife mills are the ideal tools to meet the complex requirements of the sample preparation of food. The model GM 200 has proven itself for the homogenization of small sample volumes of up to 700 ml. For larger volumes RETSCH offers the GM 300 model with a grinding chamber volume of 5,000 ml.
Like all foodstuff, confectionery is subjected to strict quality controls. Parameters of interest are, for example, nutritional value, moisture or fat content, or the quantification of particular ingredients, such as vitamins or alkaloids. Typically, chromatographic methods like High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) are used to analyze food samples. Most analytical methods only require a few milligram or gram of sample; the previous size reduction/homogenization process ensures that the small analysis sample is representative of the entire laboratory sample, thus allowing for reproducible results. Moreover, homogenized samples show a much better extraction behavior.
Genetic engineering opens up new possibilities in areas such as medical research, development of alternative fuels or global food supply. It is used to modify the characteristics of plants in order to increase the crop yield, improve defense against predators, pesticides or draught, but also increase concentrations of essential vitamins. However, with regards to food the use of genetic engineering is a fairly controversial issue. Moreover, food and feed stuff are subject to rigorous quality control processes to prevent humans and animals from potential harm.
Reliable and accurate analysis results can only be guaranteed by reproducible sample preparation. This consists of transforming a laboratory sample into a representative part sample with homogeneous analytical fineness. Retsch offers a comprehensive range of the most modern mills and crushers for coarse, fine and ultra-fine size reduction of almost any material. The product range also comprises a wide choice of grinding tools and accessories which helps to ensure contamination-free preparation of a great variety of sample materials. The selection of the correct grinding tool depends on the sample material and the subsequent method of analysis. Different grinding tools have different characteristics, such as required energy input, hardness or wear-resistance.
Sample preparation of vegetable-based raw materials with laboratory mills
Thanks to the increasing usage of biomass as a source of energy, the analysis of these materials in the context of R&D and quality control gains importance, too. Due to the complex properties of plant materials, adequate sample preparation can be rather a challenge.
In the analysis of solid material, the popular adage that “bigger is better” certainly does not apply. The goal is to produce particles that are sufficiently small to satisfy the requirements of the analysis while ensuring that the final sample accurately represents the original material. The “particles” of interest to the analyst generally range from 10 µm to 2mm. Additionally there are many application, where even finer sizes are needed. One example are active ingredients, where it is necessary to grind in the submicron range. Finally for DNA or RNA extraction mechanical cell lysis is well-established.
Materials differ widely in their composition and physical properties. Hence, there are many different grinding principles that can be applied, and this, together with other variables such as initial feed or “lump” size, fineness needed and amount of sample available, results in a wide range of models available to the researcher.
The so-called QuEChERS method (“quick, easy, cheap, effective, rugged and safe”) was developed by Michelangelo Anastassiades (Chemical and Veterinary Investigation Office CVUA, Stuttgart, Germany) to make sample preparation to pesticide residue analysis more efficient. It basically consists of three steps: Homogenization – Extraction – Analysis. Test series have proved that the analysis results obtained with the QuEChERS method can easily compare with more common methods, such as DFG S19. Various RETSCH instruments are used for the sample preparation process.
A variety of methods can be used to analyze solid materials. What they all have in common is the necessity to use a representative, homogeneous analysis sample which needs to have a particular fineness, depending on the analytical method used. The size reduction and homogenization of solids is usually carried out with laboratory crushers and grinders.
A faultless and comparable analysis is closely linked to an accurate sample handling. Only a sample representative of the initial material can provide meaningful analysis results. Rotating dividers and rotary tube dividers are an important means to ensure the representativeness of a sample and thus the reproducibility of the analysis. Correct sample handling consequently minimizes the probability of a production stop due to incorrect analysis results. Thus correct sample handling is the key to effective quality control.
The so-called QuEChERS method (“quick, easy, cheap, effective, rugged and safe”) has been developed to make sample preparation to pesticide analysis more efficient. Serial tests have proved that the analysis results obtained with the QuEChERS method can easily bear comparison with more common methods, such as DFG S19. To guarantee reproducible analysis results, it is essential to completely homogenize the sample. To make sure the sample preparation is reproducible, the homogenization process needs to be carried out with a laboratory mill.
Food manufacturers often promote their products as „light“ or, such as in the case of cereal bars, „healthy“. If that is actually true, can only be verified by analyzing the nutritional values, a procedure which forms an important part of food quality control. The values of fat, saturated fatty acids, sugar and salt which are printed on the packaging represent an average of the content of each substance and relate to 100 ml respectively 100 g of the product. The cereal bars consist of a heterogeneous mixture of ingredients (nuts, raisins, oat flakes etc.), therefore the thorough homogenization of the sample is required to obtain meaningful analysis results.
The diversity of foodstuffs with their often very different product properties represents a real challenge for food testing laboratories. Before the actual analysis, the sample materials – which can vary strongly with regards to hardness and moisture – need to be homogenized and reduced to a sufficiently small particle size. RETSCH’s GRINDOMIX knife mills are the ideal tools to meet the complex requirements of sample preparation of food. The model GM 200 has proven itself for the homogenization of smaller sample volumes of up to 700 ml. For larger volumes RETSCH now offers the new GRINDOMIX GM 300 with a grinding chamber volume of 5,000 ml.
The development of high-performance ceramics is determined by a large number of influencing factors. In addition to material-specific aspects, such as the chemical purity of the initial raw materials, particle size reproducibility and uniformity of particle morphology, production-specific factors also determine the final properties of ceramics.
An efficient sample preparation procedure for rapid, reliable and reproducible analytical results is becoming increasingly important today. Ever more stringent requirements are being set both in research and production, e.g. for product monitoring and quality control.