The portable device is designed to measure the texture and temperature of a range of ingredients including shortenings, pastries, margarines, butters cheeses, icings and ice-cream.
A spokesman for Bunge Oils told FoodProductionDaily.com: “This innovative new design is a bridge between the hand test (of an experienced worker) and a conventional texture analyser. It provides an objective measurement of force for more accurate, precise and reliable texture readings.”
The Consistometer uses a precision load cell to measure the force needed to penetrate food ingredients and delivers a digital data for download to an Excel spreadsheet for analysis.
It features a LCD screen, keypad, infra red (IR) depth sensor and probe shaft. The IR depth sensor is responsible for depth and speed measurements. The LCD can display continuous force readings or it can show readings at intervals specified by the operator.
The screen also advises operators whether the insertion of the probe in the measuring material is correct, too fast or slow. This helps to ensure good operator-to-operator variability in the consistency of test results, according to the company.
Force measurements detected by the device include: The average force of a measurement, the mean range of a group of measurements, the standard deviation of a group of measurements and the equilibrated temperature of the measured sample.
“Traditionally solid fat content or SFC has been used to communicate how hard or soft a shortening is,” said the company. “But SFC does not provide an indication of the true textural qualities that are critical in many functional bakery shortenings or margarines.” But the Consistometer is said to help rectify this.
“In the past, a very experienced hand was needed to test the consistency of samples but now general benchmark references can be applied to a range of samples.” said the spokesperson.
The high-speed thermocouple located a short distance from the probe tip supplies temperature measurement.
Interchangeable probe tips can be used to adapt the device to test the consistency of different products.
Also shaft extensions can be added to measure larger samples.
The Consistometer is currently on sale in the United States and will be offered for sale in Europe at a later date. Although no precise pricing information was available, the company said the device would be priced somewhere between a research tool and a quality analysis tool.