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What's in your pastry?


Ever wonder why that particular pastry is so good? Well the food science industry does! They closely monitor the composition of their products to ensure that it continues to taste, smell and look appealing. Of the many analytical techniques used for quality control, X-ray diffraction ("XRD") is probably one of the least advertised but most widely employed. This technique is used for everything from compound identification, quality control, quantification, and even to measure crystalline quality. The sugar or sweetener composition and combinations are highly guarded secrets and can "make or break" the product's general popularity. The composition of the sugars and the degree of crystallinity significantly impact the finished product's appeal and shelf life. XRD analysis ensures that the product meets both company standards and federal regulations.

Figure 1: This fast 10-minute diffraction pattern of pastry icing using Rigaku's MiniFlex benchtop diffractometer shows that the main ingredients include a very crystalline sucrose (nice and sweet), calcium carbonate (a hard water component), and high levels of a preservative, ammonium benzoate.
Figure 2: The gentleman who purchased this pastry was obviously unaware of the contents.