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Rapid Moisture Analysis in Baked Goods Manufacturing

August 19, 2018
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Moisture content is one of the most critical parameters in establishing proper conditions for the taste, preservation, storability, and shipping of baked goods. Incoming ingredients require accurate analysis since price is calculated on a dry weight basis. In-process doughs and batters require very specific moisture levels to achieve proper dough processability and to minimize bake times. Most mix cycles for hydrates and doughs are relatively short, typically on the order of 10 minutes, which makes traditional air-oven moisture analysis impractical. With moisture playing an important role at every step of the manufacturing process, there is a clear need for a moisture analysis method that is rapid, highly accurate and robust.


Indirect techniques, such as NIR and FT-IR have been introduced to perform rapid analysis, but require costly calibrations and are limited to simple, uniform sample matrices. Because NIR and FT-IR are secondary methods, even slight formulation changes lead to time consuming channel development. Infrared moisture balances decrease test time compared to traditional oven methods, but still require up to 25 minutes to completely dry samples with moderate moisture levels1. Furthermore, infrared moisture balances struggle to completely dry high moisture mixes and ingredients, which tend to re-condense inside the drying cavity due to a lack of active ventilation.

The SMART 6™ Moisture Analyzer is uniquely designed to handle the wide variety of sample types in baked goods manufacturing, from dry mix ingredients to doughs, batters and inclusions. The SMART 6 utilizes dual-frequency energy, specifically microwave and infrared, to rapidly analyze moisture content. Low frequency microwaves penetrate the entire sample to rapidly remove unbound moisture through dipole rotation, while high frequency infrared energy evenly heats the surface through molecular vibration. The two energy sources work in unison, providing benefits over microwave-only and infrared-only analyzers, with results in approximately 3 minutes. In addition to moisture analysis, CEM offers an upgrade option to include fat testing with the SMART 6 – ORACLE™ system2.

This study demonstrates that the SMART 6 can rapidly analyze a wide range of raw and baked goods for moisture with an average difference of less than 0.06 % compared to reference methods.