“Miller understanding of product requirement such as damaged starch, ash content, granulation is so important to achieve final product specification which meets customer requirement. These depend on miller qualifications background, the experience they have gone through, and school of milling they attended.”
Taha Merghani - EMIGRAIN
Why is quality control important for milling sector? What laboratory and quality control do bring companies in? Why should milling companies give importance in investments in such fields?
Quality control is important and essential for any flour milling operations since the target of milling process is more or less designed to produce the target quality of wheat flour utilizing the mill machinery with higher yield and less cost of production; however, quality control will still be the enable and measures to ensure this target achievement.
The quality department and lab facility should be as much as possible closed and nearby the mill, providing the service of sampling, inspections, analysis, and reporting, with reliable quality plan and system. Also, the lab should be equipped with the essential instruments used in analysis and assessment of wheat quality and flour such as:
• Wheat sampling devises and probes
• Devices of screening and impurities
• Wheat hectoliter weight and density
• Wheat crushing and milling machine (for lab).
And also instruments of flour and dough rheology assessment such as:
• Moisture content
• Protein content
• Falling number
• Damaged starch
• Ash content
It is whole about quality which makes companies brand, name, and profit, even small capacity mills which produced special quality products tend to make space and name in the market and attract consumer for many years only by producing and sustain producing good quality products. Companies may face difficulties and challenges, which may be related to global wheat prices or local authorities’ taxes, customs or subsidy, however, only quality products can survive in this case.
What is the importance of quality control in terms of food security?
Quality control and quality assurance in field of flour milling plays great role in food security, the implementation of quality system such as; quality management system, food safety, HACCP and health and safety systems has developed the environment of production, reduce the waste of food and raw materials which used to happen in the past as a result of mishandling and lack of quality approach. Nowadays quality members took the responsibility for inspections of coming raw materials, flow up the proper storage practices and required pest control applications which are practices help to safe the product. The food safety and ISO certification had belt trust and prepare the atmosphere to maintain the food safety and security.
In consideration of experiences you gained from the market, can you evaluate approach of mills towards quality control laboratory? Do you think millers give enough importance in quality control and laboratory subjects?
In most of the flour mills the final products specification set as per customer and market needs. Thus products recipes, which will impact afterward in the chemical and rheological properties during applications are very much affected by how wheat was milled. This fact will make us think, whatever happening during wheat cleaning, tempering, milling, and packing will definitely appear during baking while the dough mixed and sent for fermentation and came out after baking.
Miller understanding of product requirement such as damaged starch, ash content, granulation is so important to achieve final product specification which meets customer requirement. These depend on miller qualifications background, the experience they have gone through, and school of milling they attended. For example, in the Middle East and Africa and GCC countries, there are two types of millers coming from either Swiss milling school or miller graduated from CFTRI ( Central Food Technology Research Institute -Mysuru-India) which having milling school.
The miller who is coming from Swiss milling school and worked in the Middle East, North Africa and part of Europe and even USA were adapted to produce types of flour with ideal milling techniques which fit for multi-purpose of usage, such as volumetric bread, French bread, cakes, biscuits and other types of bakery products . They mostly do mill setting, improve addition and mixing of flour to meet those products requirement. Those millers were trained and got experience to do so. On the other hand millers from India, Pakistan and those parts of Asia were focusing on producing products which fit for flatbread such as chapatti, Barata, nan, and others, though their idea and experience been built on doing milling to achieve this target, example of that ; setting of mill for short tempering time and less moisture in first break wheat, to get flour with high starch. And in most of the case, they were adapting to work with the type of milling either local made or not having that much of high technology. In my opinion, the millers will pay attention to quality needs and lab analysis only when they will have awareness and enough knowledge about that. And as we have seen here milling techniques can be learned no matter what was the miller background of qualification, if he is mechanical, electrical or food technologist, whoever get simple knowledge of cereal technology, wheat chemistry, and baking technology can make millers understand very well what product quality needs.
What is needed to keep quality standards at a high level? How can a mill increase its quantity of high-quality flour? What can be done to minimize negative impacts of the flour quality?
I think what is always needed to keep quality standard of higher level and ensure the product consistency is to agree on quality and production systems and protocols such as quality plan, analysis plan and production plan, which will lead to organize and design the work in both sections to meet the customer needs. A quality plan such as what to be analyzed for each product, how frequency, samples size, sample location, responsibility, and records. A similar scenario also for milling and production, such as each product milling may need certain mill setting and requirement, On the other hand, the quality team should understand very well the milling techniques and what can be made for product quality during milling. For example, the quality member should not request miller to reduce water absorption or increase alveograph “W” value instead of asking to reduce damaged starch or increase the hard wheat in the blend. Millers and quality need to put systems in place and agreed on quality and production plan. This can be an important element which may reduce negative impacts on both flour quality and productivity.
What equipment should be in an ideal flour mill laboratory?
Each flour lab should be equipped with instruments which cover the required physical, chemical an rheological analysis of wheat and flour. So flour mill lab should have :
• Hot air oven for moisture
• Ash Furnace
• Glutomatic for gluten
• Falling number machine for enzyme activity
• Minolta for flour color
• Device for automatic monitoring of damaged starch
• Lab mills for gluten and falling number milling of wheat
• Lab crushing machine for wheat moisture
• Lab sifter for flour granulation
• 1mm, 2, mm and 3 mm sieve size for wheat screening
• Test weight machine ( hectoliter )
• Pilot mill
The lab should have sampling probes and reliable devices for sampling preparation and mixing homogeneity, Qc steam and lab member need to be well trained to use the lab equipment. Two members should have minimum knowledge of troubleshooting and simple maintenance. The lab supervisor and QC manager should be very much aware of test interpretation and explanation of result as per specifications of wheat and final product of flour.
What must be done to achieve proper sampling in a mill?
The quality department should have sampling procedure which based on the international standards such as GAFTA, AACC or ICC. Also, the sampling plan is very much important to how frequency samples have to be taken from the mill, samples size and sample location is very important to represent the product targeted by sampling and analysis. Samples identification and record are fundamental requirement control the product during production and to maintain the traceability.
The quality team member who is responsible for sampling should well trained and he has to follow the practice to communicate with miller during sampling to know mill status before taken the samples. That is because if the mill is not in normal run condition, such as startup or recovering after breakdown, or not run with full load and stream of flour was not equally participated in the final flour the sample, in this case, will not represent the specific product in the line.
The miller will know the product inside the line which coming as sequences of tempering and wheat grist planning. It is not possible for QC sampler to know this information just by seeing the machines running and product coming out.
Product name, sample date /time, mill line ( A, B, C…) and sample number are the sample identifications information which may be better to be print in slips and sampler has to fill the data manually and fix the slip in sampling container. It is important for the slip to be sticker type and can be easily removed to avoid the mix up between samples and allow to reuse the sample container.