Scientists find non-destructive way to test spinach
Scientists have developed a non-destructive way to analyse the quality of fresh spinach.
The team from the University of Corboda has found a non-destructive way for farmers to measure a variety of quality metrics for spinach production using a process known as near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS).
The technique is based on light interacting with a product in order to gather information about its physical-chemical make-up, its structure and the parameters related to its sensorial characteristics.
Researcher Dolores Pérez Marín said the results from the study have been positive.
“They show this technology’s ability to directly analyse vegetables in the farm field or within the industry, in order to determine the characteristics related to quality as well as food safety,” Marín said.
The most common current method to analyse the vegetable quality requires choosing several samples from a batch to be processed at a laboratory.
This process can be slow and costly, and requires the spinach to be destroyed.
The NIRS technology analyses the product’s soluble solid content, which helps farmers plan the best harvest date at the point when a suitable level has been reached.
It will also help producers to set appropriate fertiliser amounts for each crop by monitoring nitrate levels.
In recent years, the level of nitrate within fruits and vegetables has been closely guarded by regulators as excessive amounts have been linked to adverse health outcomes.
The study said the environmentally friendly NIRS technology, which is also used in the fields of chemistry, pharmaceutics and biomedicine, has already been rolled out to a spinach farm.
It also said the technology determines if the product is different from set standards rather than traditional lab analyses, which tests for a particular component.
This non-directed method may assist the food industry to stay one step ahead of future food crises.
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