Chemical analysis

FOOD ANALYSIS

J.S. Hamilton is a worldwide company that comprehensively combines inspection, testing and training services with analytical research performed in our own laboratories.

Every day hundreds of different analysis are provided in different J.S. Hamilton Poland laboratories to identify food safety threats and its quality in terms of microbiological, organoleptic and physico-chemical parameters. Analytical testing services are the main part of our company for various branches of food industry.

Physico-chemical testing provides the necessary information on product’s ingredients and information about physical and chemical properties of a product.
J.S. Hamilton laboratories offer a wide range of testing methods for food and animal feed products:

  • nutrient composition, including protein content, sugar profile, ash, moisture, fat content (including saturates and trans-fats), fibre, carbohydrate and salt content, cholesterol content, amino acid profile
  • product characteristics such as pH, acidity, water activity (aw), melting and freezing points, etc.
  • Micro and macro element content: Ca, Na, K, Mg, P, Fe, Se, Mn, Zn, Cu, Al, Sn, Ni, Co, Cr, B, Mo, I
  • Indicators of product freshness such as acid value, peroxide value, anisidine value, volatile base nitrogen (TVB-N), histamine, etc.

J.S. Hamilton laboratories offer a wide range of services that, in its broadest approach, meets the customers expectations in terms of food safety and food quality.

The issue of informing consumers about the nutritional value of products is governed by applicable law. Correct labelling of food products, complying with requirements of food law, is therefore an indispensable element of ensuring the safety of food available on the market. The label should indicate the energy value of the product and the amount of fat, saturated fatty acids, carbohydrates, sugars, proteins, and salt. If salt wasn’t used in the technological process- a note that the salt content is due only to the presence of naturally occurring sodium in the product may be placed directly near the nutrition declaration. The content of mandatory nutrition information can be enriched with information on the amount of monounsaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, polyols, starch, fibre, vitamins, and minerals.

Nutritional information should be given in grams per 100 grams or 100 millilitres. In addition- it can be expressed per portion or unit amount of food.

J.S. Hamilton laboratories offer nutritional testing in accordance with European Union legislation, as well as specific requirements for the United States, Canada and other countries.

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Vitamins are an essential elements for the proper functioning of organisms. The level of vitamins is therefore one of the most important indicators of the quality of food products and the appropriate technological processes.

Vitamins can be of natural origin or synthetically produced, and their determination is extremely complex due to the variety of structures and properties.

Depending on the classification and structure of vitamins, different analytical methods are used. Chromatographic techniques (liquid chromatography with fluorescence or spectrophotometry detection) or microbiological techniques are most commonly used. Less commonly used techniques are enzymatic or titration methods.

Vitamins (shown in the table in Appendix XIII of Regulation 1169/2011) can be declared on the food label if they are in significant quantities. This significant amount is calculated using the appropriate relationships:

  • 15% of the reference intake, included in 100 g or 100 ml, for non-beverage products;
  • 7,5% of the reference intake, contained in 100 ml, for beverages;
  • 15% of the reference intake, per portion, if the package contains only one serving.1

J.S. Hamilton laboratories offer the following vitamin content analysis for a variety of food and animal feed products:

  • Vitamins soluble in fat and their provitamins: A (retinol), E (alpha-tocopherol), D2 (ergocalciferol), D3 (cholecalciferol); K1 (phylloquinone); K2 (menaquinone), beta carotene
  • Vitamins soluble in water: B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (PP or niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid), B12 (cyanocobalamin), C

 

Consumer protection and stability of the market are the goal of European Union’s policy in terms of food safety. Each product available on the market should meet the standards set in the specifications, both with regard to basic parameters and substances harmful to the health of consumers, the total amount of which should not exceed the level established by legislation. Due to modern and progressive agricultural and food industry, it is necessary to monitor the residues of contaminants in food and animal feed products.

Food products needs to be safe for the consumer. This is the most important principle of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council, which states that safety and consumer confidence in the Community and in third countries are of the utmost importance. Maximum levels for harmful substances are laid down in Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 of 19 December 2006, which lists the following groups of contaminants :

  • nitrates,
  • mycotoxins,
  • heavy metals,
  • 3-monochloropropane-1,2-diol,v
  • dioxins and polychlorinated diphenyls with dioxin-like effects,
  • polychlorinated biphenyls not showing dioxin-like effects,
  • polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons,
  • melamine and its structural analogues,
  • plant-specific toxins.

J.S. Hamilton laboratories offer pesticide residue testing at our pesticide testing competence centre Hamilton UO-Technologia Sp. z o.o. where both our pesticide residue testing experts and state-of-the-art testing technologies are concentrated.

We offer testing on a wide range of products such as:

  • fresh/frozen fruit/vegetables and preserves, including juices
  • fresh/dried mushrooms
  • eggs
  • grains and processed cereals
  • herbs, teas
  • fresh/frozen meat
  • fresh/frozen fish
  • milk and dairy products
  • composite and processed products

Specially developed methods are available for testing organic agricultural produce

Pesticide residues that are determined separately:

  • Chlorates and perchlorates
  • Ethephon
  • Phosphonic acid and fosetyl
  • Maleic hydrazide
  • Dithiocarbamates, calculated as cs2
  • Mepiquat and chlormequat
  • Bac and ddac/quaternary amines
  • Others

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Antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals are commonly used for various human and animal diseases. The invention and usage of these substances is considered as the greatest medical achievement of the XX century.

However, these substances may become a potential source of negative impact on consumers’ health if present in muscles, animal by-products, or products of animal origin (such as milk, eggs, honey). The majority of such cases arise from not observing a certain extension period, applying doses of veterinary drugs that do not correspond to the indications, not following the recommendations for the usage of drugs or using them for inappropriate animal species. In order to protect the health of consumers in the European Union countries, a number of restrictions and regulations have been introduced to clarify the use of antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals on food-producing animals.

Monitoring the presence of veterinary drugs residues is a complex and difficult issue due to the fact that these agents belong to different groups (which is related to differences in the chemical structure of individual compounds) and that metabolism strongly influences the presence of residues in the final product. Microbiological screening methods and the latest testing methods (combining liquid chromatography and gas chromatography in tandem with mass spectrometry) are used in veterinary residue testing, which allows relatively quick evaluation of raw material batches.

J.S. Hamilton Poland SA laboratory in Gdynia develops and validates more in-depth analytical methods allowing to offer wider range of compounds in different foodstuffs, taking into account the stricter regulations for lowering the maximum residue limits in different types of matrixes. Most of the methods have also been validated in the lowest possible level of residues, so they can be used to monitor products free from veterinary drugs.
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Dioxins are released into the environment by the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons in the presence of chlorine in processes such as waste incineration, cement production, improperly adjusted combustion engines, paper production, forest fires, etc. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) can be present in various components of electrical equipment, in lubricants and plastics and elsewhere. Dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs accumulate in the environment and enter through food and water of both productive animals and human consumption. Human intake of dioxins occurs primarily via food (~25 % meat, ~26 % fish, ~16 % milk, ~21 % dairy products, and ~4 % oils).

Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs), called dioxins – it is a group of more than 200 chemical compounds (congeners) of similar chemical structure, whose molecules differ in position and number of chlorine atoms and exhibit a similar mechanism of toxicity to living organisms. According to a number of studies, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) also indicate a similar toxic mechanism.
17 dioxin congeners containing 4 to 8 chlorine atoms are especially harmful for human health. Extremely toxic compounds among PCDDs and PCDFs are those, in which the chlorine atoms are at positions 2, 3, 7, and 8, e.g. 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD). Individual congeners of dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls may exhibit different toxicities for human and animal organisms, so the appropriate conversion factors, known as toxic factors, are used for the expression of results. The use of toxic equivalency factors (TEF) make it possible to express the sum of the toxicity of congeners and facilitate the risk assessment. The results of the determinations are therefore expressed in terms of the sum of all dioxins and congeners of dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls as toxic equivalents (TEQ), which are the sum of the multiplication of the content of individual congeners and their toxic equivalency factors. The TEF value indicates how many times the toxicity of a compound for a human being is less than the most toxic congener, i.e. 2,3,7,8-TCDD with its TEF = 1.

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Mycotoxins are toxic substances produced by different mould species, mainly Aspergillus, Penicilium, and Fusarium. Factors that affect the production of mycotoxins include fungal strain, substrate type, environmental temperature, humidity and water content in the product, and its degree of ripeness. Mycotoxins can cause a number of diseases. They are toxic when ingested in large quantities, but also long-term exposure to small doses may pose a health risk. Apart from health risks, mycotoxins can cause huge economic losses.

J.S. Hamilton laboratories offer the following mycotoxin testing in a variety of food and animal feed samples:
Aflatoxins B1, B, G1, G2, and their sum, aflatoxin M1, deoxynivalenol (DON), ochratoxin A, T-2 toxin, HT-2 toxin, fumonisins B1 and B2, zearalenone, patulin, and ergot alkaloids.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH, including benzo[a]pyrene) are polycyclic hydrocarbons containing condensed aromatic rings. They are formed during the combustion process (burning of wood, smoking of cigarettes, or asphalt production). They can appear in food due to heat treatment (frying, smoking, and grilling) or due to environmental pollution.

PAH presence in food is undesirable because many of them are suspected or are proven genotoxic, mutagenic, and carcinogenic properties. The monitoring of PAHs in food has been the subject of interest of producers for many years. J.S. Hamilton Poland Sp. z o.o. laboratories have an appropriate analytical methodology which detects PAHs in many types of foodstuffs, considering different maximum levels

Heavy metals are food contaminants that migrate into food mainly from the environmental surroundings. According to the available literature, plants and products of plant origin, such as bread and cereal products, and also fish and seafood are the most exposed to heavy metals contamination. The most commonly found and the most dangerous heavy elements are cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), and arsenic (As). Prolonged exposure to high levels of these elements may increase the risk of developing cancer and nervous system disorders as well as impaired immune function.

J.S. Hamilton Poland Sp. z o.o. laboratory in Gdynia offers appropriately developed testing methods that meet international standards. Cutting-edge devices – mineralisers, ICP-MS, ICP-OES, FAAS – are used for the analysis.

The purpose of using food additives is to enhance the flavour of the food, increase the stability of the product, facilitate the technological process and often make the product more attractive. The European Union legislation defines additives as ‘any substance not normally consumed as a food in itself and not normally used as a characteristic ingredient of food, whether or not it has nutritive value, the intentional addition of which to food for a technological purpose in the manufacture, processing, preparation, treatment, packaging, transport or storage of such food results, or may be reasonably expected to result, in it or its by-products becoming directly or indirectly a component of such foods’.

A food additive may be authorised only if it meets the following conditions:

  • usage in the specified quantity does not endanger the health of consumers
  • there is a legitimate technological need that cannot be met in any other way;
  • its usage is not misleading and benefits consumers.

The use of food additives necessitates the use of appropriate methodologies to determine whether the permissible level has not been exceeded. For this purpose J.S. Hamilton Poland Sp. z o.o. laboratory in Gdynia uses various techniques – chromatography (gas chromatography, liquid chromatography, thin-layer chromatography), spectrophotometry, spectroscopy (ICP-OES and ICP-MS), and distillation.

Food adulteration is a problem that people have been facing ever since they discovered that food production can be profitable. Nowadays, the irregularities are detected in almost all kinds of foodstuffs, which makes this aspect one of the most important problems. Milk and dairy products, chocolate and chocolate products, meat and meat products, vegetable oils, fruit and vegetable juices, honey and alcoholic beverages may be adulterated.

Assessing the degree of adulteration may be based on incorrect information on the packaging (which is due to the addition of an ingredient not indicated), lack of information on the preservatives used, or incorrect use of the product name (e.g. the product is called ‘butter’ but is made from fats other than milk fat). Often a more expensive ingredient is replaced by a cheaper one (even with ingredients that should not be present in food – such as the addition of melamine).

Detection of food adulterations requires appropriate techniques – either conventional methods (e.g. determination of the freezing point to detect water dilution in milk or Lugol test to detect starch additive in meat product) or enzymatic, genetic, microscopic, and instrumental methods as chromatographic, isotopic, spectrophotometric, and spectral techniques.

Choosing the right methodology requires cooperation between the customer and the laboratory, due to the necessity to define not only the analytical technique but also the direction in order to adequately identify the potential food adulteration.

Experiments on food irradiation appeared in the United States before World War II. However only after World War II the applying nuclear energy in the technology of food preservation expanded dynamically, due to the necessity of peaceful use of the nuclear infrastructure during the war. The food sector saw the potential benefits of extending the shelf life of food products.

Irradiation of food products is the process of exposing foodstuffs to high doses of radioactive cobalt-60 or cesium-137, gamma rays or high speed electron beams. As a result of these actions, the chain reaction inhibits the decay of fruit and vegetables, eliminates the sprouting and ripening, prevents the spread of bacteria and neutralizes impurities.

Food irradiation is permitted, if technically justified, unless it poses a threat to human health.

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Contact information

J.S. Hamilton Baltic SIA

Address:
Mazā Rencēnu Street 12 Riga, LV-1073, LATVIA

Phone:
+371 66103389
+371 27087073

Working time:
Mo. Tu. We. Th. Fr. 8:30 – 17:00
On Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays – delivery of samples by prior arrangement

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