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Chocolate swelling during storage caused by fat or moisture migration.

A common problem with chocolate involves the migration of one of its components to another area of the product during storage. The migration of fat and moisture is a common problem, especially when it occurs in chocolate-coated confectionery products. Such migration leads to quality deterioration in filled confectionery products. The migration of these components into the coating leads to visual and sensory defects, such as sugar or fat bloom, which makes the product unacceptable to consumers.

Swedish scientists used a technique based on confocal chromatic displacement sensor technology to quantify the swelling that occurs in dark chocolate that's been subjected to fat or moisture migration. Essentially, this type of sensor measures distances by analyzing the spectrum of the light reflected by a sample.

The nondestructive method made it possible to use the sensor to scan the height profile of dark chocolate samples with a high degree of sensitivity. By performing multiple scans on each chocolate sample before and after it had been subjected to fat or moisture migration, the researchers were able to quantify any induced swelling that would occur.

Applying the new technique to confectionery systems revealed that fat and moisture migration generate different swelling behavior and kinetics in dark chocolate when it is in storage. Moisture migration caused a rapid swelling in the samples once a water activity of 0.8 was reached in the chocolate. This was probably the result of an interaction and absorption of moisture by the particulate solids.

Fat migration also affected the swelling behavior of chocolate, possibly by inducing phase transitions in the continuous cocoa butter phase. Migrating fat also proved to induce a more pronounced swelling than the same amount of absorbed moisture. So, it appears that the swelling caused by fat or moisture migration is a result of a number of different mechanisms.

Further information. Lina Svanberg, Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology (SIK), Box 5401, SE-402 29 Gothenburg, Sweden; phone: +46 10 516 66 79; email:
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Publication:Emerging Food R&D Report
Date:Jul 1, 2013
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