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How to Test Food for Carbohydrates at Medallion Labs

carbohydrate test in food

Carbohydrates are a very common component in both natural and processed foods. These can include cereal, potatoes, bread, pizza, pasta, and many others. Nutritionally, carbohydrates exist in two forms, either as a complex carbohydrate (starch) or as a simple carbohydrate (sugar). And yes, food items can contain both complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates at the same time.

Carbohydrate compositions and their various attributes play powerful roles in the human body.

As explained by Chemical Entities of Biological Interest, Polysaccharides in food store energy and act as structural components. The 5-carbon monosaccharide ribose is a vital component of coenzymes and acts as the backbone of Ribonucleic acid, a genetic molecule. Similarly, deoxyribose is a component of DNA. Saccharides and their variations play key roles in the immune system, fertilization, preventing pathogenesis, blood clotting, and development

Because of their importance to the human body and various functions, carbohydrates are listed in nutritional information as defined by the US Food and Drug Administration.

The existence of carbohydrates in food items is widespread and their roles in human health are abundant. These truths underscore the necessity for acutely testing carbohydrates in food items.

Testing Options to Determine Carbohydrates by Calculation in Food Items

There are a number of test methodologies that can be used to identity and measure carbohydrates for the purposes of a food analysis lab report. At Medallion Labs, we offer the following carbohydrates by calculation analysis to best meet the objectives of your food product findings.

Medallion Labs carbohydrates by calculation test options include:

Carbohydrate Testing

View our test library to see full details of Medallion Labs carbohydrate test capabilities.

Test Library

How Do We Test Food For Carbohydrates In Our Lab?

Different countries account for carbohydrates differently. Within Medallion Labs and in the United States, the protocols call for a process called carbohydrate by subtraction.

With this method, when a food item is chemically analyzed in a lab, each gram of protein, fat, water and ash are subtracted from the total gram weight of the sample. Whatever quantity is left over is considered the carbohydrate value and converted into a percentage of the total weight.

With carbohydrate testing, we use the following formula:
Percentage of Carbohydrates = 100% – (% Ash) – (% Total Fat) – (% Moisture) – (% Protein)

With the carbohydrate by subtraction method, the carbohydrate value includes sugars, starch, and fiber as they will not be included in any of the other assays being subtracted. It can also contain trace amounts of other compounds that do not fit into other assays.

We use the carbohydrate by subtraction method because it complies with the carbohydrate definition that is used for nutritional labels and food composition tables in both the United States and Canada.

How Can Total Carbohydrates Be Lower Than Total Fiber?

Occasionally, the total carbohydrate value can come out lower than total fiber. This typically occurs in ingredients with high concentrations of fiber, like psyllium for example. One may think that carbohydrates and fiber are one and the same but they are quite unique.

The difference between carbohydrate results and dietary fiber results is the method used to attain them. Carbohydrates are obtained from a calculation, or more accurately, the subtraction method. Dietary fiber results are obtained from an analytical test. Different fiber methods can generate different fiber results. This can also make a direct comparison between carbohydrates by calculation and fiber more complex.

Since the carbohydrates are a calculation based on Ash, Fat, Moisture, and Protein, the variability of the results of the carbohydrate includes the variability of each method required for the calculation. This explains why it is not unusual to see carbohydrates come out lower than total dietary fiber.

Also important to note, testing results are reviewed and checked for accuracy before we finalize the report.

Accurate Carbohydrate Lab Testing for Food Items

Whether it is for carbohydrates testing or some other category of food testing and reporting, food companies in all categories turn to Medallion Labs for trusted, accurate and standardized testing results.

We blend advanced science, discerning expertise, and distinguished service to build solutions designed to give you the certitude you need to bring safe, healthy food to tables around the globe. These solutions are both designed and carried out by leading scientists who approach each project as problem solvers, aligning their experience and expertise with your end game.

And because we offer a wide area of carbohydrates by calculation testing options, you can achieve your results without overspending for results and protocols you do not need. At Medallion Labs, we believe testing value is just as important as testing accuracy.

Medallion Labs is ready to use our testing options, expertise and skills to deliver your product’s carbohydrate information in a food analysis lab report. Connect with us or call 1-800-245-5615 to outline the criteria and testing needs for your food products.

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