Snack foods are found in virtually every household and is a growing market representing over 450 billion USD in annual sales. Snack foods include crisps/chips, tortilla chips, nuts, savory snacks, and sweet snacks such as cereal and granola snacks. The snack food market is extremely competitive, and maintaining the strict quality control standards set by the manufacturer is important to make every snack look and taste the same no matter where you buy the bag of your favorite snack food.
Producing consistent quality snacks can present a challenge to manufacturers, with natural incoming materials showing variations in composition and quality. Many snack food manufacturers are either performing minimal analytical testing or are using time consuming methods that do not provide “real-time” analysis.
In many cases, little-to-no testing is performed on incoming raw materials or at the mixer. Manufacturers tend to rely on the vendor to provide them with the proper ingredients. This could be a recipe for disaster as there is no proof that the vendor is sending the specified material or that the materials meet the required quality. If the materials are not properly vetted, and manufacturers trust that all ingredients are added properly based on weight, the outcome is also unknown. Additionally, small variations in manufacturing such as mixing, oil temperature / quality or oven temperature can further compound the situation.
A proper analytical testing procedure can help to ensure consistent food product quality and to save money by reducing re-work and improving cycle time. Quality control testing can be done on raw materials, during the process and on the final product for everything from moisture, fat/oil percentage, seasoning, geometric measurements, color analysis, and many others.