If you are looking for color analysis on your food product, Medallion Labs can help with that. We offer three different color tests: Hunter, Lovibond, and Minolta. Each method has its advantages, with Hunter being the most common choice among customers. This blog will discuss why you might need a color analysis, the color options Medallion provides, and what goes into the testing process.
Why Use Color Analysis?
Color analysis is part of the larger discipline of physical testing at Medallion Labs. It’s called upon for a variety of reasons. Most often, color analysis is used for ongoing quality control or to confirm visual observations. A food product’s color is often a driver of consumer preference, especially when the food product is visible in the package. Any shift in color from one product to the next can cause doubts about quality, taste, and freshness.
Color analysis can also verify consistent food processing. Steps such as toasting or using color additives will impact the food product’s color. If a step is missed during processing, a color test, specifically the Hunter method, will reveal it.
The Hunter color test can even be used to confirm supply chain consistency. Sometimes ingredients from one supplier to another can vary, causing unwanted differences in a food product. Color analysis can identify these differences and allow the food producer to change suppliers or have the supplier make adjustments.
It’s worth noting that visual observations can be skewed by various factors, such as reflective or opaque packaging. Using color testing on your product can help you establish accurate, repeatable, and comparable results.
Color Analysis Protocols
There are six conditions that must be specified when conducting a color test:
- Illuminant: what type of light the sample is measured under
- Color space: how the data is presented in a defined 3D space
- Observer: how the colors were calibrated; this goes along with the color space
- Illumination geometry: where the light comes from and goes to for measurement
- Sample prep: is the sample ground or measured whole, stirred, diluted, etc.
- Sample introduction: how to present it to the instrument — in a cell
By keeping these six conditions consistent, we can remove variables that could alter the results.
Looking closer at condition Number 1: illuminant
Every light source has a color temperature. The temperature casts different color spectrums onto an object. A cool light (3,300K–5,300K) tends to be neutral daylight to white. A warm light (2,700K–3,300K) is more akin to traditional incandescent bulbs with gold hues. Therefore, changing the light source from one test to another will significantly alter the color results. Typically, food product samples are tested in a manner that attempts to exclude environmental light from interfering with the test.
Comparing the Hunter Color Test, Minolta Color Test, and Lovibond Test
The Hunter color test is the most used because it offers flexibility, precision, and heartiness. Our Hunter colorimeter is a research-grade instrument that provides many different ways to measure colors—from illuminants that are designed to find metameristic differences to introducing a sample for either reflectance or transmission. It provides many different indices and is often the preferred method.
The Lovibond color test is for testing refined and clarified oils only. It can be used as an indicator of degree of aging or refinement. It’s an accurate test with a narrow application.
The Minolta model colorimeter is a hand-held instrument used to develop or match specification testing. One of its biggest strengths is its portability and ease of deployment to production facilities to measure color.
L*a*b* Color Scale and the Hunter Color Test
The Hunter color test uses a filter colorimeter that separates the components of reflected color into a three-dimensional color scale. The L*a*b* color scale views color in a similar manner to the human eye. L* measures light to dark color components, a* is a Red/Green Value scale, and b* is a Yellow/Blue Value scale.
That analysis is used to compare several samples or to compare a sample to a previously determined standard. Food samples can be liquids, powders, solids, or particulates.
Your Reliable Partner for Food Product Color Analysis
Color testing provides important data to food producers when finishing a production run or sending a new product to store shelves. Using the Hunter color testing method, and others, from Medallion Labs, customers receive accurate, reliable, and actionable color results to inform their decisions and operations.
When considering Medallion Labs for color analysis or other lab services, we suggest referring to our tech data sheets and online order form for the latest details. Our breadth of testing options helps you maximize your testing budget by providing the results you seek in a cost-efficient manner.
Medallion Labs is ready to use our testing options, expertise, and skills to meet your testing needs. Connect with us or call 1-800-245-5615 to discuss the criteria and testing needs for your food products.