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Testing technology

18th December 2019


The VHX series from Keyence
The microscope produces images of foreign bodies

New digital microscope proves invaluable for food testing applications

Public Analyst Scientific Services provides sampling advice, analytical services and expert opinions to local authority customers. The organisation is also supporting local authority trading standards and environmental health departments throughout the UK to enforce the provisions of the Food Safety Act and supplementary regulations.

In addition, Public Analyst Scientific Services is known for its comprehensive range of accredited, state-of-the-art analytical techniques that support increasingly stringent quality and safety standards for food and animal feed. Facilities in Wolverhampton and Hull are supported by a global network of laboratories and Competence Centres; over 150,000 reliable and accredited methods per year are available across the entire network to establish the safety, composition, authenticity, origin, traceability and purity of food and animal feed.

This work is a big ask at the best of times, and being equipped with tools of the highest quality is crucial so that Public Analyst Scientific Services can deliver reliably and consistently on its multiple mandates. When the need came to acquire new inspection equipment, Public Analyst Scientific Services turned to Keyence.

“After consideration, we decided to acquire a VHX Series Digital Microscope,” says Emma Downie, a public analyst at Public Analyst Scientific Services. “This digital microscope was a new acquisition for us, and we selected this product primarily for its comprehensive imaging capabilities.” The VHX Series Digital Microscope is very easy to set up and use on a daily basis, whilst not compromising the microscope´s overall capabilities.

“Providing analytical services and expert opinion on the testing results we get is such a fundamental part of what we do,” explains Downie. “Our public analysts have a wealth of experience when dealing with food testing, covering just about everything including foreign objects, taints and ‘off-flavours’, food authenticity, quality and safety.”

Other benefits of the VHX Series include real-time depth composition achieved without the need to actually adjust the focus of the device. The microscope delivers images of unprecedented clarity and texture, thanks to a high resolution HDR offering 256 times the information of a normal 8-bit digital image. Balancing out brightness levels and improving contrast simultaneously is key to delivering excellent viewing results.

The digital microscope has proved invaluable to Public Analyst Scientific Services, as it helps with the production of detailed images of foreign bodies. These images are often included in sample reports where a clear and detailed image is important for end clients.

“The measurement features also help provide more information that could not be obtained easily otherwise,” says Downie. “For example, a radius of curvature of a fragment of glass allows us to estimate the size of the object the fragment has come from.”





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