Traceable Recipe Formulation
Formulation is the preparation of a substance, undertaken by undertaken by combining together all the component materials in the correct proportions in accordance with a specific recipe, or formula. Formulation is a relatively common procedure in industries such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, chemicals and food.
When we walk down the aisle in the grocery store, we invariably discover new products on the shelf. While the attractive packaging is often what first attracts our attention, it is the aroma and taste of the product which makes us return again and again. A successful food product is the result of a long line of trial and error in the food development process. A slight tweak of the starch concentration in the formulation, or the addition or subtraction of a seemingly insignificant ingredient, can alter the sensory experience completely.
Product development begins with identifying a consumer trend and, hence, a market opportunity for a new product. Target market requirements, including flavor and textural characteristics, are defined and delivered to product developers as a marketing brief. Such food scientists work in their lab-kitchen to create a series of prototypes. Following multiple tests and reviews, the most favorable formulation will be scaled up into a commercial product. That is one of the reasons why traceable recipe formulation is so important.
Challenges in Traceable Recipe Formulation
During the development of a new cocoa beverage, a well-known European nutrition company explained their formulation process: Food scientists in the lab-kitchen are provided with the necessary ingredients – various types of chocolate powder, cocoa and sugar, as well as smaller quantities of subtler flavorings. Each prototype recipe is identified by a unique code, with the ingredient lists saved in an Excel® spreadsheet. Each recipe is printed out and the ingredients are ticked off the list one by one as they are added to the mixture. The ingredients are individually added to a bag on the balance which is tared at the start of the process and again before the addition
of each ingredient. The weight values are recorded manually.
Ticking the ingredients off the list helps to ensure that no ingredient has been missed, especially when the colors of the ingredients are very similar. While this practice is effective, it does not fully prevent an ingredient from being missed or accidentally added twice. In a busy kitchen, where food scientists may have to make up 30 to 40 different recipes per day, any mistakes slow down the development process. In addition, recording all the weight values manually takes a considerable amount of time and is prone to error. When the pressure to deliver is high, sometimes the weights are not recorded at all. In the end, the scientists are faced with the problem that nobody can be completely sure exactly what a mixture consists of, or precisely how much of each component it contains.
An efficient solution?
METTLER TOLEDO offers a cost-effective solution to address problems in the traceable recipe formulation process, as described above. METTLER TOLEDO MS-TS, ML-T and ME-T balances all feature RS232 and USB interfaces, enabling a METTLER TOLEDO P-5x printer and a commercially available barcode scanner of your choice to be connected to the balance at the same time.