What Type of Lab Food Testing Does My Product Need?

by | Mar 10, 2021 | 0 comments

When you’re creating a new food business or expanding your line to include a new food or beverage, it can be difficult to understand what you need to do in order to meet safety regulations, FDA labeling requirements, and requirements from other entities such as the stores selling your product. While you definitely don’t want to miss any of the requirements, you also want to avoid spending extra time and money on unnecessary testing.

RL Food Testing Laboratory can help you determine exactly what food testing you need for your product to be safe, compliant, and meet any specific needs that your unique product has. Below, you can find the different tests offered by RL Food Testing Laboratory – click on each test to learn what each test provides you with, and whether it meets the needs of your food or beverage product.

  • Shelf Life
  • Food Safety
  • Nutritional Analysis
  • Allergens
  • Ethanol
  • pH & Water Activity
  • *Moisture
  • Proximate Analysis
  • Fiber
  • *Heavy Metals
  • *Minerals and vitamins?
  • Fatty Acid Profile
  • Pet Food Guaranteed Analysis[MA1] 

Shelf Life Testing

What Is Shelf Life Testing?

Shelf life testing determines how long a product will be safe for, and lets you determine a “Best if used by” date. This includes conducting both food safety testing and basic acceptability (e.g., appearance) testing on your product periodically throughout the entire length of your shelf life study. At the end of the study, you’ll receive a report from our microbiologist and an easy-to-understand interpretation of the results.

When to Get Shelf Life Testing

Most stores require you to perform shelf life studies on your product before they will sell it, so they know how long they will be able to keep it on their shelves.

Shelf life testing can also be helpful during product development, to see how long your product will last as it is currently formulated or if there are adjustments you may want to make to give you a long shelf life.

Nutritional Analysis

What Is Nutritional Analysis?

Nutritional Analysis lets you know the amount of different nutrients that are present in your food. A typical test will cover all the values needed to make a complete Nutrition Facts label, and will also include a copy of the Nutrition Facts label, an allergen statement based on your recipe, and an ingredient statement – everything you need for FDA nutrition labeling.

When to Get a Nutritional Analysis

While almost all foods need nutrition facts labeling, not all products will need a full nutritional analysis. For most foods and beverages, RL Food Testing Laboratory can perform a Database Analysis (which is less expensive and quicker); however, if your product is dehydrated, brewed, filtered, fermented, pickled, brined, or contains ingredients for which you can’t find all the nutrient values needed for an FDA nutrition label, Nutritional Analysis is right for you.

Food Safety Testing

What Is Food Safety Testing?

Food safety testing helps determine if your product contains any harmful microbes, including Staph. aureus, Salmonella, Escherichia coli (E. coli), Listeria, or mold. The microbes we test will depend on your ingredients and other characteristics of your food or beverage. We do not test for toxins (e.g., from Clostridium botulinum).

When to Get a Food Safety Test

A food safety test is a one-time test – so it’s most useful when you have a specific batch or package that you suspect might be contaminated with microbes. This could happen if you think there might be a problem with unsanitary ingredients, storage, or processing conditions. You can send that product to our food test lab, and we’ll determine if any of the microbes listed above are present, and if so, at what levels they’re in the food.

Allergens

What Is Allergen Testing?

Allergen testing uses ELISA to test for any of the eight major food allergens: eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, tree nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, etc.), shellfish (shrimp, crab, oysters, etc.), soy, and wheat.

When to Get Allergen Testing

If your food is processed in a facility or factory line that handles allergens which could have gotten into your product, or if you are making a claim that your food or drink is free from a particular allergen (e.g., “100% peanut-free”), you may want to use allergen testing to confirm or deny the presence of these allergens. However, for most products, doing a thorough check for allergens listed on the label of each of your ingredients is sufficient to tell if these allergens will be present in your food or beverage product.

Ethanol

What Is Ethanol Testing?

Ethanol testing determines the amount of ethanol in a food or beverage.

When to Get Ethanol Testing

If your food or beverage is fermented or brewed, you will need to know how much ethanol is in the product in order to correctly calculate how many Calories the food or beverage has. Since Calories is a mandatory part of FDA nutrition labels, any fermented or brewed products will need ethanol testing to complete their nutrition facts label.

pH and Water Activity

What Is pH?

pH is a measure of how acidic or basic your food is, on a scale of 0-14 (with 0 being very acidic, and 7 being very basic. Most foods have a pH between 2-9.

What is Water Activity?

Water activity is a measure related to how much “free” water – that is, water that bacteria or other microorganisms are able to use for their growth – is in a food. The water activity of a food or beverage can be anywhere from pure water at 1.0 to dry crackers at about 0.2.

When to Get pH and Water Activity Testing

Both pH and water activity are basic but important measures that can tell a lot about a food’s safety from a microbiological standpoint. Because microorganisms can only survive in certain pH ranges, knowing the pH of a food or beverage can help you know what microorganisms, if any, are capable of growing in your food. Water activity also helps you determine which types of microorganisms might be able to grow in your food or beverage, because different microorganisms require different ranges of water activity in order to grow. This information can be useful in determining what food safety test might be best suited to your product, or it can give insights into your product’s shelf life.

Proximate Analysis

What Is Proximate Analysis?

Proximate analysis provides you with the values of a few key nutrients – protein, fat, and carbohydrates. From this, you can also calculate how many Calories are in a food or drink.

When to Get a Proximate Analysis

Obtaining a proximate analysis from a food test lab can be helpful if you’re developing a food or beverage that has certain targets you want to meet. For example, if you are trying to create a keto bar, a low-fat muffin, or a high-protein shake, a proximate analysis can tell you how much of each of these nutrients is present, without requiring a full Nutritional Analysis.

Proximate analysis can also help if you’re interested in investigating or proving a nutrient claim on any product, such as ones that are already on the market. In this case, proximate analysis can often help verify this by testing the amounts of these different nutrients.

Fiber

What Is Fiber Analysis?

A fiber analysis, done in our food testing lab, lets you know how much fiber is present in a product. This can also be broken down into how much soluble fiber and how much insoluble fiber is in the food or beverage.

When to Get a Fiber Analysis

Usually, this type of test is helpful in product development, when you are trying to determine if you meet your goals for having a certain amount of fiber in your food or beverage.

Fiber analysis is also helpful if you are interested in adding “Soluble Fiber” and/or “Insoluble Fiber” to your Nutrition Facts label. For example, if you make any claims on your food label about soluble or insoluble fiber, you will need to include those values on your Nutrition Facts label.

Vitamins and Minerals

What Is Vitamin and Mineral Analysis?

Testing for vitamins and minerals, performed in a food test lab, will determine how much of a specific vitamin or mineral is in your food or beverage product. At RL Food Testing Laboratory, we provide testing for all vitamins and minerals that can be included in a Nutrition Facts label: Vitamins A, C, E, K, and various B vitamins; and the minerals phosphorus, iodine, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese, chromium, molybdenum, and chloride.

When to Get Vitamin and Mineral Analysis

While all foods and beverages will need to include values for Vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium on their FDA nutrition label, sometimes you may be interested in showing how much of an additional vitamin or mineral is in your food. This is voluntary if you simply want to point out the fact that you have a certain vitamin or mineral, especially if there’s a significant amount. However, it can also be mandatory according to FDA labeling requirements, particularly if you are going to include a claim or statement on your label about a certain vitamin or mineral, or if you add that vitamin or mineral to your food to supplement health.

Fatty Acid Profile

What Is a Fatty Acid Profile?

One of the main building blocks that makes up fat is fatty acids. Testing for your product’s fatty acid profile can tell you each different type of fatty acid that is present in your food or beverage, and in what quantity it is present.

When to Get a Fatty Acid Profile

Differences in types and quantities of fatty acids are responsible for differences in types of fat – like differences in fat from different sources (plant vs. animal), differences in liquid oils vs solid fats, and differences in how healthy a particular type of fat is. Often, fatty acid analysis is used when you’re interested in listing additional values in your Nutrition Facts labeling, such as the amount of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which tend to be healthier fats.

Fatty acid analysis can also be necessary if you would like your product to be characterized by specific fatty acids – for example, omega-3 fatty acids, or oleic acid in “high-oleic” sunflower oil – and you want to verify that these fatty acids are present in the amount you expect.

Pet Food Labeling Guaranteed Analysis

What is Guaranteed Analysis for Pet Food Labeling?

Guaranteed Analysis for dog food or cat food is a simple nutritional analysis for dog or cat food that includes minimum crude fat and protein content, maximum fiber and moisture content, and ash (mostly minerals). At RL Food Testing Lab, we also include a metabolic energy statement (how many calories are in the pet food), and an ingredient list. I think we should mention here that they also receive a compliant pet food label with this analysis for aforementioned reason.

When to Get a Guaranteed Analysis

When selling a pet food, you’ll need to comply with federal and state regulations for your cat or dog food labeling, which can usually be accomplished by following the guidelines set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, or AAFCO. Part of these guidelines include guaranteed analysis for dog or cat food, a caloric statement, and a correctly formatted ingredient listing, which can all be done at RL Food Testing Lab’s food testing lab.

 

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