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Agriculture & Food
Identifying Discrete Particle Contamination in Foods

The discovery of foreign materials or contaminants in foods prompts the questions;

However, the most important question will probably be:

So the first step in solving the overall problem is to identify the contaminant or foreign material in order to establish potential sources of the contamination.

Identifying Discrete Particle Contamination in Foods

Metallic Particle Metallic Particle Spectrum

When the contamination found in foods are discrete particles, they can easily be removed, cleaned and presented to the scanning electron microscope for elemental analysis by EDS X-ray spectrometry. Given that the cause of the contamination in foods production can come from a number of sources, such as inclusion with raw ingredients, the handling and processing of ingredients, storage and transportation, the range of materials requiring identification can be extensive. ED X-ray spectrometry has the capability to identify the elemental composition of a wide range of materials and so proves to be a versatile tool in the identification of unknown materials found as contaminants.

While the identification of the elements in the contaminant may provide enough information to identify the material, sometimes that list of elements may only serve to identify the class of material such as a steel or glass. Throughout the whole manufacturing process, the food product may come into contact with a number of different glasses or steels having more specific identification of the particular glass or steel would prove valuable to the analyst in identifying the source of the contaminant. Utilising the quantitative analysis procedures of ED X-ray spectrometry specific compositions for the contaminant can be obtained identifying the specific steel or glass  and could provide the additional information to pinpoint the exact source of the contamination

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