Fast Sodium Analysis in Food

The Turbospec 400 is a compact, portable analyzer for rapid sodium analysis in food, brines, and other liquids. For most samples, the sodium analysis is as is with no sample preparation other than introducing about 1 mL of sample into a tube and inserting the tube into the analyzer. For solid samples, the solid can be extracted into water and the liquid component is analyzed.

This compact analyzer quickly measures sodium using a single calibration standard. The system is also portable weighing less than 18 lbs.

Sodium is an important nutrient in our diet and must be carefully controlled during the manufacturing process.  The Turbospec 400 can quickly take any type of liquid and in less than a minute and give a sodium concentration with absolutely no dilution or manipulation of the sample and without any consumable reagents.

How it works

The Turbospec 400 uses magnetic resonance to directly quantify the content of sodium in the sample. The signal response of sodium is linear with the concentration, therefore, the Turbospec 400 is easily calibrated using a single standard solution of sodium chloride and can be calibrated in molarity, wt %, or ppm.

Result display

Will it work for us?

Seeing is believing and we are happy to perform risk-free demonstrations of the Turbospec 400 at your location.  In certain cases, we can leave the unit for further testing.

We are always testing products

Here are some sample tests run on store bought products and comparison to the food label.  In most cases, the measured level of sodium is less than the content on the label.  Think of the food label being a “not to exceed” content as opposed to a certificate of analysis.

Taking the sodium content from the Nutritional Facts label for a single serving  we calculated the “Molarity” based on assuming a density of 1.00.  For example, a national sports drink had 270 mg of sodium in a 591 mL bottle.  The calculated sodium concentration was 0.27 g / 22.99 g/mol / 0.591 L for a sodium concentration of 0.0199 M.  A 40 second measurement of a 0.5 mL sample of the sports drink was 0.0194 M. Again, the label is not a certificate of analysis, so the result of the Turbospec was very close to the theoretical value of the label.

Sodium Content (g)Serving Size (g|mL)Conc. (M)Measured (M)Difference (C-M)Details
Sports Drink0.275910.0200.0190.000
BBQ Sauce0.29370.3410.384-0.043
Yellow Mustard0.05550.4780.3930.085
Marinara Sauce0.491200.1700.1140.056
Cocktail Sauce0.6600.4350.3950.040
Ranch Dressing0.26300.3770.3170.060
Yellow Mustard0.0650.5220.4010.120
Slaw Dressing0.28330.3690.390-0.021
Catalina Dressing0.34330.4480.453-0.005
Marinara Trad.0.491250.1700.1210.050
Pasta Sauce0.481250.1670.1020.065
Beef Consomme0.791200.2860.2780.008
Chicken Noodle0.411200.1490.152-0.004
Tomato Soup0.411200.1490.1240.025
Soy Sauce (red)0.256101.1131.0640.0494 mL diluted to 10 mL total volume
Soy Sauce (green)0.23101.0000.9160.0841 mL diluted to 10 mL total volume
Solid Samples
Olive Brine0.695
Olive (homog.)0.961000.4170.15312 olives, 4 servings
Olive (extract)0.961000.4170.243
Pickle Brine0.247
Pickle (homog.)1.3210518 pickles, 6 servings
Pickle (extract)1.321050.5470.130
Peppers Brine0.510

Sample Results

Most of the samples in the table were measured directly by introducing the material into a tube and inserting the tube into the sample chamber and pressing the SCAN button.

Initial screen to select sodium
Screen shot of Turbospec initial screen select sodium to analyze
Result display
Display of result of sodium analysis
Measurement progress
Measurement progress meter

In many cases the serving size was given in mass as opposed to volume, so some liberties were taken by assuming the density was 1.00 g/mL.  Admittedly this creates a bias in comparing the label copy to the measured result, but overall the measurements showed the expected under-estimation or were very close to the label estimate.

Special Sample Prep

For the brined samples, olives, pickles and peppers, a large sample of the product was removed from the brine and dried on a paper towel.  A multiple of 3-4 serving sizes were put in a Ninja food blender and 100 mL of water was added to the sample.  The mass of the olives, pickles or peppers were ignored in the sodium concentration, it was treated as simply adding the mass of sodium to 100 mL of water.  The samples were blended thoroughly for 1 minute and both the homogenate and the extract (filtered homogenate) were measured.  The extract was filtered through a paper filter in a disposable pipette.

Brined Sample Results

In all cases the sodium content of the brine was significantly higher than the sodium content in either the homogenate or the extract.  All of the sodium levels were well below the suggested levels of sodium.  Also remarkable was the measured differences between the homogenate and extract signifying different levels of brine permeation in the product.

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