Tag Archives: Lab Supplies

Testing the Water

j0444789What is the difference between water activity and water “moisture” content? Well, it all depends on what you want to achieve. Do you want to monitor the amount of water and dry matter present in a product? Or do you want to increase and monitor the shelf stability of a product?

“Water ‘moisture’ content is the amount of water contained in a product”. Measuring water “moisture” content is better used to determine quality of the process. For example, if the product is a cheese powder that is spray dried, it is common practice to measure the water “moisture” content to determine yield and to ascertain if your drying process is running according to the diagnosed plan.

Water activity is defined as the measurement of the availability of free water for biological reactions—especially the biological reactions that can make humans and animals very sick.  Water activity is more critical in the food industry. Bacteria love water; gram-negative bacteria like E.coli need a minimum of .97 moisture content for growth, and the Staphylococcal toxin produced by Staphylococcus aureus only needs a minimum of .93 for growth. To put this into perspective, know that pure water’s moisture content is 1.00. Thus, it is critical for food manufacturers to know and monitor the water activity before, during, and after manufacturing for safety. See the table below for the water activity and content levels of common foods:

Water Activity of Common Foods (aw)

fresh meats and fish:                     0.99

moist cakes:                                       0.90-0.95

soy sauce:                                           0.80

jams, marmalades, jellies:            0.75-0.80

dried spices, milk powder:           0.20-0.60

Water Content of Common Foods (%)

apples:                 84

peppers:              92

salami, beef       60

dried fruit            31

wheat flour        11

Water activity is crucial to food safety. Microbes are everywhere, and will find any way possible to a food source, ultimately causing spoilage. Moisture analysis monitoring processes are set up to eliminate as many microbes as possible, with the key to moisture control and water activity being to find ways to bind the water so that it doesn’t allow microbes to find a food source—thus extending a product’s shelf life. Contact one of Nelson Jameson’s product specialists today to discuss your moisture analysis and water activity needs.

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Nelson-Jameson Employee Named “Laboratorian of the Year” by the Wisconsin Laboratory Association

cathyWe are proud to announce that Cathy Laube, Laboratory Supplies Product Manager at Nelson-Jameson, was named the “Joe Mityas Laboratorian of the Year” by the Wisconsin Laboratory Association (WLA) for her contributions to the Association and the laboratory field!

Kristen Houck, of the Center for Dairy Research, shares that the award is given to an outstanding representative of the WLA’s mission “to improve the cause, technique, practice, and knowledge of industrial laboratory technicians through communication and educational opportunities.”

Laube has served as President, WLA Board Member (past president), and also as the chair of the Supplier Subcommittee. Houck explains that Laube has: “been such a great addition to WLA. She knows what our members need/want in terms of training/education and also knows what vendors have in their wheelhouse to make our member’s jobs more efficient and productive. Her positive attitude is contagious, and she knows how to plan and organize – a great multitasker.” We could not agree more, Kristen…congratulations, Cathy!

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Tech Tip: Ergonomic Pipetting

Source: Stanford University

Source: Stanford University

Due to the sheer amount of pipetting that goes on commonly in a lab on a day-to-day basis, it can be easy to forget that this repetitive process may cause problematic ergonomic issues.

Stanford University’s EH&S, Industrial Hygiene/Safety Program recommends a few things that you can do to assure good ergonomics while pipetting in the lab. Here are some of their key insights from the “Laboratory Ergonomics Tips” document to keep in mind while pipetting:

The next time you find yourself trying to assure the quality of your sample, take some time to remember to take care of yourself in the process. For further tips on maintaining proper ergonomics in the lab check out more from Stanford University here.<

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Product Focus: UDY Protein Analyzer

calfOn the blog, we have dealt with the topic of protein numerous times. Why? Well, protein is on our customers’ minds. This nutritional focal point is not only about our diets; it is also about the food production processes that bring these products to our plates.

For example, farmers want to make sure that their livestock is getting the best nutrition available. The proper nutrition of animals not only assists in their well-being, but also helps to create quality food end-products. Protein, as it is for humans, is an essential in animal diets and in the growth and maintenance of livestock, including in the feeding/raising of calves.

That is one of the reasons that our Lab area features the UDY Protein Analyzer, a tool used by many feed operations and farms. The UDY measures protein using Acid Orange Dye.   It also differentiates between non-protein nitrogen, vestigial pieces of intact protein molecules, and functional proteins. Instead of measuring via digestion methods based on nitrogen, the technology is based on functional binding sites of amino acids lysine, histidine, and arginine, considered essential amino acids in the diet of the non-ruminant calf.

An exclusive to Nelson-Jameson, the UDY is aimed at farmers and small businesses where on-site testing is ideal. Are you interested in getting your hands on this “hands-on approach”? You can check out the UDY Protein Analyzer on our website.  For further information, contact our Laboratory Products Department at 800-826-8302.

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A Salmonella Action Plan: A New USDA Approach

bacteria3 (2)In the food industry’s efforts to take on food safety, progress has been made. Yet, so much remains to be done. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) this December in their “Salmonella Action Plan” discussed that: “Salmonella illness estimates have continued at a steady high or slightly increased rate despite FSIS interventions” in the past several years. This new action plan sets up a list of priorities that the agency will actively take on in 2014 to combat Salmonella in meat and poultry products.  You can check out the full report right here.

By upping the ante, it is hoped that the “estimated 1.3 million illnesses…attributed to Salmonella every year” will start to decrease each year by the thousands. Regulatory agencies and food industry producers can be sure that Salmonella will no doubt be a key focus in the coming months  thanks to such measures. So, what can you do in this larger fight? One method of potentially changing the tide is in your hands and the hands of the employees in your operation: quality testing.

Nelson-Jameson, working with 3M, is proud to offer 3M™ Petrifilm™ Salmonella Express Count Plates. This system utilizes 3M Food Safety’s Petrifilm™ technology, an industry standard, and delivers an all-in-one test and biochemical confirmation method in as little as 44 hours. These rapid tests provide your operation with a level of cost-effective, prompt peace-of-mind in assuring a quality product. Along with comprehensive initiatives like the “Salmonella Action Plan,” these local efforts such as testing for Salmonella using 3M™ Petrifilm™ Salmonella Express Count Plates in your operation can help us all gear up and take on Salmonella in 2014!

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