Testing Made Easy
December 1, 2007
Testing Made Easy
Lab equipment for beverage manufacturing
Throughout the development and production process, beverages undergo comprehensive testing of both formulation and packaging. Technology and testing options are making this process easier for beverage manufacturers. Beverage Industry’s Lab Testing Equipment Showcase features companies offering equipment for the beverage laboratory, including instruments for quality control, carbonation testing, refractometers, chemical analysis equipment, equipment for water testing and plant trial equipment.
Sanitation is a key issue for beverage plants, and LaMotte Co., Chestertown, Md., offers test strips, kits, photometers and turbidity meters to meet beverage testing needs. Equipment from vats to lines to containers all must be sanitized before and after use. The usual sanitizers are chlorine, iodine and QAC, but other products such as chlorine dioxide and peracetic acid also are being used. CIP units usually use caustic solutions. Since the concentrations are high, test strips and/or field kits are required to monitor these sanitizers and cleaners.
Many plants also reprocess potable water using chlorine and flocculation to improve the water quality. Here, it is vital to dechlorinate since chlorine can affect product flavor. To eliminate this problem, reverse osmosis and ozone are usually used in bottled water. LaMotte’s photometers can be used to measure chlorine and ozone concentrations.
Additionally, turbidity can be a problem in any type of beverage. As beers and white wines age, proteins can contribute to turbidity. Nephelometers are turbidity meters that read light scatter at a 90 degree angle to the source beam. One LaMotte version uses a white light source, while a second uses infrared (IR). The IR version is best for colored solutions, and these meters are sometimes called Haze meters. Nephelometers usually report results as Nephelometric Turbidity Units (NTU) or Formazin Nephelometeric Units (FNU).
Sartorius Stedim Biotech, headquartered in Germany with offices in Edgewood, N.Y., provides a complete line of laboratory products for the beverage industry, including filtration, microbiology and water purification equipment.
During the past few years, several methods for quick detection of microorganisms have been introduced to the market. What they all have in common is that they can only be used if the bioburden, the number of microorganisms on a product prior to sterilization, is relatively high (i.e. 103–104/ml.). In the beverage industry, however, it is important that trace contamination, sometimes consisting of only a few microorganisms, can be detected per milliliter or per bottled unit. For such applications, good methods are ones that concentrate on low-microbial counts using relatively large volumes, Sartorius says. The quickest method of concentration consists of filtration through a membrane. The filter is then incubated on a specific culture medium, thereby causing the relevant microorganisms to form visible colonies that can be counted, the company explains.
Sartorius offers a complete line of microbiology, filtration and water purification products for quality control needs. For microbiological analysis in the beverage industry, Sartorius offers a broad range of Biosart 100 Monitors, Nutrient Pad Sets, filter membranes, funnels, stainless steel manifolds, vacuum pumps, absorbent pads, filter paper, Petri dishes and nutrient media.
An important need in the beverage industry is to closely measure and control the sugar and sweetener (Brix) content. Maintaining proper concentration ensures quality and reduces costs. Reichert Analytical Instruments, Depew, N.Y., offers a range of refractometers suited for these measurements, from raw materials to production and then to final product.
Another area of interest in quality control is to ensure that products are safe for the consumer. Reichert offers Colony Counters to measure for bacterial presence in acidic beverages, such as fruit juices. The Darkfield Quebec Colony Counters count bacteria colonies and can be used for microbiology work in the laboratory.
Reichert offers measurement tools such as modern laboratory refractometers and go-anywhere hand-helds. The Reichert AR7 and AR6 series automatic benchtop refractometers offer options of Peltier Temperature Control and measurement resolution out to 1/100 percent Brix. For those who require a laboratory refractometer but are limited in budget, the company offers the r2i300 Compact Benchtop Refractometer. Some in the beverage industry prefer the method of viewing a shadowline using the traditional Abbe style refractometer. The Arias 500 refractometer is a semi-automatic transmission style Abbe, offering the best features of both a manual and automatic refractometer. It allows users to visualize the shadowline within a large field of view, and automatically determines the crosshair intersection.
On the production floor, it is common to find portable refractometers that allow plant personnel to conduct tests while the beverage is processed, or areas such as receiving, where Brix and concentration measurements must be made. Reichert also offers the Goldberg series Brix hand-held refractometer. Using a proprietary liquid-filled prism for automatic temperature compensation, this Brix refractometer is accurate to 0.1 percent. And for a rugged, hand-held refractometer, Reichert offers the Rhino series Brix hand-helds. These Rhino refractometers are IP67 rated for water resistance and are dustproof.
Zahm & Nagel, Buffalo, N.Y., offers equipment for use in breweries and bottling plants. Its testing instruments are used primarily to test air and CO2 content in cans and bottles of carbonated beverages, CO2 in brewing tanks, as well as the purity of CO2 gas sources. Major American breweries and soft drink plants find these instruments indispensable to ensure the production of a quality product.
Zahm and Nagel Co. also sells carbonating stones and related carbonating equipment. Its standard 2 inch by 10 inch ceramic carbonating stone can produce finely carbonated beer. Recently, the company has begun producing a smaller diameter stainless steel stone, which is used by many microbreweries to achieve the same results but in smaller vessels.
Miniature plant trials
MicroThermics’ technical staff are experts in scaling up and down UHT, aseptic, pasteurization and continuous cooking processes. The Raleigh, N.C.-based company’s laboratory, mini-production and pilot processors simulate the whole process, not just the hold tube. The technology behind the equipment enables researchers to get production quality results for beverages, including milk, shakes, soy milk and juices right in their lab or pilot plant. MicroThermics offers expert training, preventative maintenance programs, same-day shipment for most parts, and extensive miniature plant trial services.
MicroThermics also provides equipment that uses PLC touchscreen with on-board operational guides and extensive data logging. The company’s processors can use direct steam injection, tubular heat exchangers, plate heat exchangers and even microwave heating systems. MicroThermics also utilize equipment including vacuum cooling, deaerators, in-line homogenizers and ultra-clean fillers.