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March02.pdfSoftware packages under review
By Anny Dentener
In previous issues of FTNZ I have reviewed several nutrition software packages for their suitability toprovide information needed under the new ANZFA nutrition panel requirements, and for productdevelopment against nutrition targets. As the end of 2002 deadline draws closer, time for a wrap up anda comparison of software versus other options including laboratory analysis.
Software options and their advantages/disadvantages.
Options for nutrition
Good filing in folders.
Upcoming version 3 withingredient listing incl.
compound ingredients inANZFA labelling format.
Options for nutrition
Sub-ingredients drawn intoformula and final % incl.
characterising % calculated.
Missing values indicated as >.
Can set up to use new ANZFAenergy calculation rules.
spreadsheet (e.g. use
The ANZFA website Nutrition Panel Calculator, while free, has an Australian database and poor wordrecognition when searching (e.g. it could only find “seeds, sesame”, not “sesame seeds”). Whileallowing for correction for moisture loss/yields, it sometimes has incorrect data (butter is too salty incomparison with NZ). At times it is excruciatingly slow or not available. As no information can bestored, information for common food ingredients has to be re-entered each time. Access is best early inthe morning before Australia logs on. At the time of writing this article the calculator was “notavailable till further notice”. This confirms the value of having my own PC-based software. The initialpurchase cost is soon offset against frustration and time wasted using the NPC calculator.
An alternative is computer spreadsheet calculations, using NZ food data (see www.crop.cri.nz for foodtable options) as well as information from suppliers. Secondary sources of information are from theUK’s McCance and Widdowson, The Composition of Foods (6th summary edition due any day) or theUSDA database Volume 14 from http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/index.html with around6,000 foods. Advantages of the USDA database are that the dietary fibre data are by the now required AOAC method. It lists fatty acids and amino acids, but not sugars however. More information on thetest method issue for dietary fibre is available at www.ift.org.uk/hottop33. Overall, spreadsheets arecheap to run but can be time-consuming and error prone. A typical spreadsheet error spotted was forinstance a burger chain understating % energy from fat exactly by the factor difference between a largefries, and 100 gram.
Software use is faster and more accurate. It can automatically adjust the recipe for water loss and"concentrate" all nutrients. I am convinced that calculating with software is the way to go with manyadvantages over spreadsheet use. So how to decide which software is best suited to your needs?Download a demo and test it. Check if the software can handle the nutrients you want to declare and/orknow about. Can it handle the loss issues for your production process, does the database contain thekind of foods/ingredients you are using, and if not can you easily add them? For ease of use andreasonable pricing FoodWorks, with the complete NZ foods database, would suit most peoples needsand be my pick of the bunch. The version 3 upgrade (to be reviewed) promise of ANZFA labelgeneration, %RDI declaration and ingredient statements including compound ingredients would furtherconfirm this. Unfortunately it has limited data in the speciality food and ingredient area. When addingsupplier data to your software database be critical as I frequently come across errors in specificationsheets. FoodWorks also excels in (re)formulating products, for instance for “Pick the Tick”, as it letsyou easily identify nutrient contribution from the ingredients by clicking on the nutrient in thecalculated information.
In need of more extensive nutrition data calculation or access to a database of 21,000 ingredients, thenGenesis R&D software may be your choice. It has proven invaluable for me with its data on lesscommon fresh foods and for formulating sport foods with its capability of tracking amino acids andfatty acids. It also has more off-beat ingredients like ginseng root and the ingredients for Sushi.
However, price tag and lack of information on NZ standard foods is a drawback. If you are in themarket for a full recipe management package consider Hamilton-Grant, but this option is veryexpensive just for nutrition calculation. TechWizard is only an option if you also need ice creamsoftware.
If you do not have the time or inclination to calculate yourself than the options are to find aknowledgeable food technologist or nutritionist to do it for you, or to have your products analysed.
Calculations generally offer considerable savings over analysis. So how does software calculation stackup against laboratory analysis? Software Calculation
Generally accurate results with totals at 100 ±3 %.
adjusting existing formulas, “what-if” Worry-free (send it off and pay the bill).
Better option for multi-stage and complicated Generally only option for fried products and drained products e.g. cheeses (whey loss).
Results depend greatly on the “quality” Expensive with analysis costing on average $400 and range of entries in the database.
(without) to $560 (with dietary fibre) per sample for One-off pictures only, no help at (re-)formulation Risk of a non-representative sample due toprocessing and seasonal/growing variations.
I found 6 laboratories that can analyse for nutrition labelling: AgriQual, Amdel, Cooke Laboratoriesand SGS in Auckland with the Massey University Nutrition Laboratory in Palmerston North and theCawthron Institute in Nelson. Costs vary considerably, but all mentioned that costs were negotiable forlarger lots and/or ongoing contracts. Also verify laboratory accreditation status, check turn around time(5-28 days) and take into account your other ongoing analytical needs e.g. microbiological testing.
Both calculation and analysis can go wrong. An example spotted recently was when I noticed that twocereals next to each other on the shelf claimed approximately the same energy level, with one stating a10% higher fat level. Discrepancies between calculation and analysis are generally due to wrongsupplier information, poor sampling, natural variations and/or plain errors. Always make a comparisonwith similar products and double-check analytical results with a theoretical calculation, even if youhave to estimate for some of the ingredients.
Do not leave compliance with the new labelling regulations to the last minute. You probably will findthat packaging and label companies are too busy to cope. Redoing labelling also presents the idealopportunity to reformulate products, get new designs and/or change suppliers. Allow at least 5-6months for the whole process. Whichever way you decide to sort out your nutrition labelling themessage has to be: GET ON WITH IT.
Anny Dentener is an independent Food Technology Consultant and founding FoodInc member(www.foodinc.co.nz). Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Original article published in the “Food Technnology in New Zealand” magazine, March 2002, Volume 37 (3): 6-7. Copyright Anny Dentener 2002.
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