The environments, properties, and physical states of water can vary drastically from sample to sample. Temperature, pressure, and bonding can change the physical condition of water within a sample, increasing the complexity of each analysis and opening the door to confounding results if the data is analyzed incorrectly. For example, carbohydrates can decompose at temperatures as low as 50°C, at which point they undergo a chemical reaction that releases water and adds to the measured total water content. However, this "added water" should not be considered as the water content of the food product.
International and national standards define the permitted moisture/water content threshold for commercially sold products. Regulators and standards such as the BRC (British Retail Consortium), IFS (International Featured Standards), GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative), ISO (International Organization for Standardization), and AOAC (Association of Official Agricultural Chemists) are increasing regulations on the production, processing, and sale of foods. This increases the work needed for quality assurance and quality control and demands more modern and efficient solutions.
Many food producers have strict criteria for measurement accuracy, reliability, and traceability to ensure product quality. These SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) describe sample preparation and measurement processes, including the sample volume, number of required measurements, maximum tolerable deviation, and procedures when scientists find errors.