Commodity Technical Services
illustration of a laboratory


The Commodity Centre’s technical department has offered a sampling and inspection service. This service has included, infestation inspections, insect identification, sieving, berry and cap stem counts among others.

The Commodity Technical Services (CTS) branch of the group was established in 2016 to provide a UKAS-accredited laboratory analytical service, based at The Commodity Centre’s headquarters. The laboratory broadens the group’s testing capabilities, and includes Moisture Content, Free Fatty Acid (FFA) & Peroxide value testing on various products.

Current Laboratory Tests:

Free Fatty Acid:

Free Fatty Acid (FFA) content assessments indicate the quality of nuts, seeds and cocoa beans. A low FFA ratio indicates the product has a better shelf life.

Peroxide value:

The peroxide value gives initial evidence of the rancidity of unsaturated oils and fats contained in nuts, seeds and cocoa beans, subject to oxidation. This gives an indication of the product’s quality and shelf life.


Moisture content affects the physical and chemical aspects of food, and its freshness and stability during storage. The moisture content of a product helps where mould is or could be a problem. Moisture content analysis also helps with an accurate sale and purchase weight of a product.

samples for testing

Laboratory tests within six months:

  • Aflatoxin:

Aflatoxin is a potent and naturally occurring carcinogen produced by certain moulds. It’s commonly found in improperly stored staples such as peanuts, Brazil nuts, rice, sesame, wheat and millet. Levels of Aflatoxins need to be ascertained to ensure they are below acceptable levels before the product enters the food chain. Testing is carried out with a High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) system.

  • Ochratoxin:

Ochratoxin A is a carcinogen and a neurotoxin produced by Aspergillus ochraceus, and Penicillium verrucosum. It is one of the most abundant food-contaminating mycotoxins in the world. Ochratoxin A can be found in corn, barley, nuts, green coffee and various dried fruits. Testing is carried out with an HPLC system.

  • Acrylamide:

Acrylamide is a chemical substance formed by a reaction between amino acids and sugars. It typically occurs when foods with high starch content such as potatoes, root vegetables, cereal-based foods, bread, coffee and coffee substitutes are cooked at temperatures above 120ºC. Acrylamide is a suspected carcinogen. Testing is carried out with an HPLC system.

  • Pesticides:

All EU countries are required to monitor food for pesticide residues. Over-use of pesticides can lead to dangerous levels of hazardous chemicals entering the food chain. Fresh fruit and vegetables are the most susceptible to pesticide residues. Testing is carried out with an HPLC system.

  • Caffeine:

Caffeine content is an important parameter for the sale and purchase of coffee beans. Testing is carried out using a Spectrophotometer.

Sampling AND

Inspection Services:

  • Sample collection:

Sample collection is carried out as per our clients’ instructions and requirements. Samples are taken by hand or by using a sampling iron (spike). All sample collection is undertaken in a clean environment to ensure the samples are free of contamination.

  • Sampling to EU Spec:

This type of sampling is conducted using the EU Commission Regulation (EC) no.178/2010. This regulation lays down the methods of sampling and analysis for the official control of foodstuffs. Typically, this sampling is undertaken to ensure that Aflatoxin and Ochratoxin samples are taken in a controlled manner to ensure uniformity.

  • Berry / Cap stem Counts:

Berry counts and Cap stem counts are conducted on all types of vine fruits as a means of determining the grade of the product. The counts are normally compared to the product specification provided by the customer.

  • Kernel Count:

Kernel Counts are conducted on all nuts and some seed-based products to determine the grade of the product. The client normally provides the specification.

  • Sieving:

The sieving process is carried out on nut and seed products to check a given number of units from a shipment for overall quality and the presence of infestation and foreign matter. Shell, septa, size and grade can also be tested.

  • Infestation inspection:

These inspections are performed across most types of products to check for infestation and the possible traces of previous infestation that may have occurred before packing and shipping. The inspections are conducted on large stainless steel inspection tables, where the product is laid out and hand inspected thoroughly.

  • Cocoa bean inspection:

Cocoa beans undergo a cocoa inspection and bean analysis to check the quality against the reports from origin. The inspections are carried out in line with the Federation of Cocoa Commerce (FCC) rules. All results are compiled in a single report showing the actual quality of the received sample.

  • Intake Inspections:

Inspections are conducted on arrival of a product in to store, the quantity to be inspected is determined by the client and inspections are conducted in line with their intake specification. This type of inspection is undertaken to ensure the quality and grade of product is in line with the clients purchase specification.

testing in beaker
lab coats






Commodity House, Great Braxted, Essex, CM8 3EW   |   T: +44 (0) 1621 892345   |   F: +44 (0) 1621 892356

© Fanpac Limited 2017