Chemical analysis of foods and beverages is performed to ensure safe consumption, product quality, and product integrity. Chemical analysis is a pre-requisite for safeguarding correct food labeling, as well as protection of consumers against adulteration, misbranding of food, and unsafe beverages. To achieve these objectives, a combined approach including suitable food legislation, increased controls by food authorities, continuous studies by food safety agencies and universities to improve knowledge about food and food processing, and enhanced responsibility of the food industry is critical.
This combined monitoring approach is particularly important in the food and beverage industry due to the complex nature of how products come to market. For example, contamination of processed meat might come from the manufacturing process, but could also come from the animal feed or even the soil the feed was grown in.
Thus, analytical testing in the food and beverage industry also extends to environmental testing (e.g., soil and water quality, air monitoring). Analytical and instrumental methods for food and beverage analysis and quality control are implemented to test for safety, quality, and nutritional value. The complex compounds of our modern diet are analyzed in chemical testing labs in accordance to global and local regulations.
Nutritional data on packaged food is necessary to help customers make informed decisions based on dietary needs or to manage diet-related disorders. Accordingly, labeling regulations provide detailed requirements for nutritional labeling (nutrients, amounts, and caloric values) on food packages. Additional food testing by manufacturers for nutrients, like carbohydrates (sugars, saccharides), dietary fiber, organic acids, sugar alcohols, fats (fatty acids, FAMES, glycerides), proteins (amino acids, peptides), sodium, vitamins, and minerals is crucial for consistent nutrient declaration.
Chemical food safety analysis allows for the safe consumption of products free of allergens, harmful pesticide residues, heavy metals, mycotoxins , and veterinary drug residues. Advances have been made in crop protection and food manufacturing procedures to enable increased food production. In parallel, the long-term effects of these advances, such as the increased use of pesticides to ensure adequate crop yield, are under constant review by government regulatory agencies to ensure they do not become harmful.
Food authenticity testing ensured food integrity by protecting customers from food adulteration and misbranding. Analytical methods are used to detect substitutions of ingredients or illegal chemical additions that alter or mask characteristics.