Microwaves offer fat chance to probe supermarket food

Sep 20, 2007

Microwaves used for zapping instant meals can also be used to determine the fat and salt content of supermarket food, according to research carried out at two Manchester universities.

One of the research team, PhD student Sing Kwei Ng, has scooped a top industry prize for his work to determine the amount of fat in beef.

His award-winning paper detailing initial results will be presented at the LMC Congress: Innovations in Food Technology conference in Denmark, today (Thursday 20 September 2007).

The Microwave Profiler project is being led by Professor Andrew Gibson from The University of Manchester’s Microwave and Communication Group, working with The School of Materials and Professor Paul Ainsworth from the Department of Food and Tourism Management at Manchester Metropolitan University.

The study began after researchers realised that as microwaves heat different types of food at different rates, they must also be sensitive to food content such as water, salt and fat.

The aim of the project is to develop a new fast and non-invasive method of predicting the fat content in meat products.

This type of constant real-time monitoring during the production process could help reduce waste, maximise yield, reduce laboratory testing and save energy.

Sing Kwei said: “Greater awareness regarding food safety and health issues means that consumers are now more concerned than ever about meat products being safe and fresh with a low fat content.

“Food contents and ingredients now have to be disclosed under the European Union legislation but cannot currently be measured quickly or cost-effectively.

“The meat industry is under extreme pressure to find new cost effective methods of meat quality evaluation at every level of food processing. Knowledge of the fat content of meat products is critical.

“The potential of our system to overcome current technical barriers to practical measuring instruments could significantly impact upon food processing and reprocessing technology.”

The research team has carried out successful pilot studies to determine the fibre content in waste products produced by the brewing industry, the moisture content in wheat grain and the salt content of supermarket food.

But they say more research on the capabilities of microwave sensors in industrial conditions is needed before the method can be properly introduced.

Engineers working on the Microwave Profiler project are hoping to develop robust and portable microwave-based instruments that are capable of taking measurements in industrial or laboratory conditions.

Source: University of Manchester

Explore further: Best of Last Week – A less crowded universe, antibiotics altering child development and reducing rumination

Related Stories

Hungry bluefin tuna in a sea of plenty

Jun 22, 2015

Bluefin tuna are going hungry in a sea full of fish because their foraging habits are most efficient with larger—not necessarily more abundant—prey, according to a study led by a University of Maine marine ...

Migrating humpbacks face double blow from human activity

Jun 04, 2015

Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) on their annual migration along WA's coast are facing pressure from both reduced food availability because of climate change and being disturbed by mining and boats, ...

Crickets aren't the miracle source of protein

Apr 16, 2015

Crickets are not all that they're cracked up to be as an alternative, global source of protein in the human diet to supplement or replace livestock consumption, according to newly published research completed ...

Recommended for you

Lady, you're on the money

Jul 03, 2015

So far, women whose portraits appear on U.S. money have been a party of three. Excluding commemorative currency, only Sacagawea, Susan B. Anthony and Helen Keller appear on coins in general circulation, according ...

Another five things to know about meta-analysis

Jul 01, 2015

Last year I wrote a post of "5 Key Things to Know About Meta-Analysis". It was a great way to focus – but it was hard keeping to only 5. With meta-analyses booming, including many that are poorly done or ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.