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Tiril Aurora Lintvedt has investigated whether it is possible to use Raman spectroscopy to measure fatty acid composition in salmon fillets or fat, protein, bone, and collagen in residual raw materials from chicken and turkey.

Can we use lasers to measure ingredients in food?

The scattering of light from molecules can reveal a lot about the content of the food on the production line in the factory. A new study shows that a technique called Raman spectroscopy offers many possibilities.

In her doctoral work at Nofima, Tiril Lintvedt has investigated whether it is possible to use Raman spectroscopy to measure fatty acid composition in salmon fillets.

This method may also be able to indicate he presence of fat, protein, bone, and collagen inresidual raw materials, specifically carcasses and remnants from chicken and turkey.

Technological development opens up new opportunities

The technological development gives the food industry far better opportunities for process control and product differentiation, quality control, and sorting of raw materials.

Optical sensors, used in spectroscopic measurement methods, are becoming faster, less expensive, and more precise.

There are several different rapid and non-destructive spectroscopic measurement methods. They are suitable for different raw materials and measurement needs.

“Raman technology, which I have studied, has become both more affordable and better," Tiril Lintvedt says.

Raman spectroscopy

  • Raman spectroscopy is a technique used to analyse molecules by investigating the scattering of light. In Raman spectroscopy, a laser is used to illuminate the samples.
  • Raman spectroscopy can be used to determine the composition of food products, such as distinguishing between different fatty acids or carbohydrates in a product.
  • Because Raman spectroscopy is a non-destructive analytical method, it can be used to examine food without affecting its quality or taste. Currently, the method is not widely used in the food industry, but there is great potential for valuable applications.

Detailed measurements directly on the production line are challenging

She explains that it is now possible to make exact measurements over larger areas than before.

However, there are still challenges associated with measuring at exposure times low enough to keep up with the speed of, for example, conveyor belts.

Lintvedt adds that the measurements are affected by large variations in working distance as a result of varying thickness and volume of raw materials.

The challenges she mentions relate to how long exposure time is needed to capture the necessary details in the raw materials.

In order to measure salmon fillets moving along the production line, the measuring instrument, in this case a tubular Raman probe, needs to measure with great detail, precision, and speed.

“There are no inline Raman solutions in the food industry today. Current spectroscopy solutions are not as sensitive to variations in distance or thickness. They also cannot measure with the same level of detail as Raman," Lintvedt says.

For now, therefore, Raman measurements are better suited to rapid measurements alongside the production line, for single samples.

According to Lintvedt, such measurements can also be highly valuable for the industry. They provide opportunities for frequent feedback on quality, and currently, there are no such solutions.

From laboratories to industrial production

Very detailed measurements are needed, right down to the molecular level, to map the fatty acid composition in salmon fillets or the content of fat, protein, bone, and collagen in residual raw materials from chicken and turkey.

Raman spectroscopy is particularly suitable for such measurements.

“In the past, Raman was used in laboratories for the development of expensive products such as medications. With better and cheaper solutions, new opportunities arise for industrial use, including in food production. This potential is what I have explored in my PhD," Lintvedt says.

She states that the results show great potential for the development of new Raman applications in quality documentation, sorting, process analysis, and real-time process control in the food industry.

After completing her PhD, Tiril will continue this research at DigiFoods - Centre for Research-Driven Innovation. There, she will continue working on developing Raman applications for the food industry.


Lintvedt et al. Feasibility of In-Line Raman Spectroscopy for Quality Assessment in Food Industry: How Fast Can We Go?, Applied Spectroscopy, vol. 76, 2022. DOI: 10.1177/00037028211056931

Lintvedt et al. Raman spectroscopy and NIR hyperspectral imaging for in-line estimation of fatty acid features in salmon fillets, Talanta: The International Journal of Pure and Applied Analytical Chemistry, vol. 254, 2023. DOI: 10.1016/j.talanta.2022.124113

Tafintseva et al. Preprocessing Strategies for Sparse Infrared Spectroscopy: A Case Study on Cartilage Diagnostics, Molecules, 2022. DOI: 10.3390/molecules27030873

About the doctoral degree

  • Tiril Lintvedt defended her thesis on 11 May. The title of the thesis is Raman spectroscopy for in-line food quality characterisation.
  • The doctoral degree is financed by the Research Council of Norway and the Foundation for Research Levy on Agricultural Products (FFL).
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