Selection Of An Analytical Method

A food analyst often has a large number of different analytical procedures that can be used to analyze a particular food product. Selection of the most suitable procedure is often the key to the success of an analysis. Some of the most important factors that should be considered are as follows (4):

1. Precision. A measure of the ability to reproduce an answer between determinations performed by the same scientist (or group of scientists) using the same equipment and experimental approach.

2. Reproducibility. A measure of the ability to reproduce an answer by scientists using the same experimental approach but in different laboratories using different equipment.

3. Accuracy. A measure of how close one can actually measure the true value of the parameter being measured.

4. Simplicity of operation. A measure of the ease with which the analysis may be carried out by relatively unskilled workers.

5. Economy. The total cost of the analysis, including the reagents, instrumentation, and time.

6. Speed. The time needed to complete the analysis.

7. Sensitivity. A measure of the lowest concentration of material that can be detected or quantified by a given technique.

8. Specificity. A measure of the ability to detect and quantify specific components within a food material, even in the presence of other similar components.

9. Safety. A measure of the potential hazards associated with reagents and procedures used in the analysis.

10. Destructive I nondestructive. Whether the sample is destroyed during the analysis or remains intact.

11. Official approval. Various international bodies have given official approval to methods that have been comprehensively studied by independent analysts and shown to be acceptable to the various organizations involved, for example, AOAC or AOCS.

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