Process Control for Fat Content in Butter and Margarine Products

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Over the last several years consumer perceptions have shifted, leading to significantly greater demand for butter, cream, and other commodities rich in butterfat. Now, more than ever, consumers are willing to pay a premium for products with more butterfat, which are viewed as being high-end. Traditionally, fat testing for butter and margarine products has been performed using gravimetric extraction, which is time consuming, demands skilled technicians, and requires hazardous solvents. Various rapid techniques (TD-NMR, NIR, FT-IR, and FT-NIR) have been introduced, each with their own shortcomings due to the need for extensive calibration development and maintenance.


The ORACLE is a rapid time domain NMR (TD-NMR) instrument incorporating proprietary technology that allows for direct determination of fat in any dairy sample. Unlike other rapid techniques, the ORACLE is able to completely isolate the detection of fat in complex matrices, eliminating the need for calibration. To achieve both rapid moisture/solids and fat testing, the ORACLE can be coupled with a SMART 6 moisture/solids analyzer.


To demonstrate the ability of the SMART 6 and ORACLE to accurately and reliably determine the fat and moisture content in butter and margarine samples, an assortment of 5 samples were obtained and analyzed. The samples were selected to represent a range of both matrix types as well as relative fat concentrations.