Determination of Moisture Content, Ash Content and Standard Curves for Breakfast Cereals

Categories: Chemistry


Breakfast is often regarded as the most important meal of the day, providing the necessary nutrition to kickstart our body's functions after a night's rest. It is popular worldwide for its high nutritional content, including minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, dietary fibers, and low-calorie content (Ragaee, S. et al, 2006). Scientific analysis is essential to accurately assess the nutritional value of breakfast cereals and other food products.

Today, there is a wide variety of breakfast options available globally, ranging from a hearty English breakfast with beans, sausages, and mushrooms to the American favorite of cereals and pancakes.

Moisture content in dry foods is typically determined using classical methods in the food industry (Vuataz et al., 2010). However, Near-Infrared (NIR) spectrometry has become a common method for moisture and ash determination, originally developed for mineral determination in the food industry (Maslovari et al., 2011). Ash determination is particularly suitable for identifying minerals and proteins such as albumins, globulins, prolamins, and glutelins (Castro-Rubio et al., 2006). Standard curves play a crucial role in quantifying the concentration of various food compounds.

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The main objective of this project is to determine the moisture content, ash content, and create standard curves for Uncle Toby's cereals, which are known for their balanced nutrients, including vitamins, fibers, and minerals, making them popular in the global market.


The moisture and ash content were determined following the Food Laboratory Manual (FOOD6005) procedures. We used Nestle Uncle Tobys breakfast cereal for our analysis.

Mineral content analysis of the breakfast cereal was performed using Atomic Absorption Spectrometry (AAS), which allows for the nebulization of the sample into tiny droplets.

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The basic minerals analyzed included Iron, Zinc, Sodium, and Potassium. The procedure involved adding concentrated HNO3 to the ash sample, filtering the sample into a 10ml round-bottom flask, and then filling the flask with deionized water. EDTA was used as the indicator. Different dilutions were prepared for each mineral and analyzed using the AAS machine. The dilution factor for mineral determination was 1:100. To prevent ionization issues with sodium and potassium, 2ml of lanthanide was added to the samples for detection.


The moisture content was determined using the following formula:

Moisture content (%) = [(Weight loss) / (Sample weight)] × 100
Weight of cereal container Weight of cereal Weight of container and sample Weight after drying Moisture content (%)
41.3575 5.0413 46.3988 46.0751 6.42%
45.9590 5.0050 50.9640 50.7007 5.26%
35.4078 5.0261 40.4339 40.0841 6.96%

Mean moisture content = (6.42 + 5.26 + 6.96) / 3 = 6.21%

Standard Deviation (SD) = 0.8686%

Coefficient of Variation (CV) = (SD / Mean) × 100% = (0.8686 / 6.21) × 100% = 13.988% = 0.13988%

Percentage of Accuracy = 100% - CV = 99.86%

Moisture content for carrots:

Weight of container Weight of carrot Weight of container and sample Weight after drying Moisture content (%)
35.409g 10.0532 45.4622 36.4556 89.62%

Ash Content

Ash content (%) = [(Weight of Crucible + Sample) - Weight of Crucible] / Weight of Crucible × 100%

Weight of Crucible Weight of Crucible + Sample Weight after drying Crucible + Sample % of Ash
30.5096 35.5391 30.6229 2.25%
26.326 31.3303 26.4509 2.49%

Mineral Determination

The weight of the ash sample used for mineral determination was 5.0295g.

The results obtained by the AAS machine were used to create standard curves for each of the four different minerals: Potassium, Iron, Sodium, and Zinc.

Calculation of sodium present in cereal sample:

Using the standard curve for potassium, the equation obtained is:

y = 0.0125x - 0.0024

Given y = 0.001, we can calculate x:

x = 0.001 / 0.0125 = 0.08 µg/ml × dilution factor

x = 0.08 µg/ml × 100 = 8 µg/ml

So, the sodium content is 80 µg/10 ml or 0.08 mg/5 gms of cereal.

This is equivalent to 0.01591 mg of sodium per gram of cereal or 0.1591 mg per 100 grams of cereal.

Mineral content (amount per 100 g of breakfast cereal):

  • Sodium: 0.1591 mg/100 gm
  • Iron: 1.162 mg/100 gm
  • Potassium: 5.15 mg/100 gm
  • Zinc: 3.09 mg/100 gm

According to the nutritional panel information:

  • Expected sodium content in 100 gm of cereal: 265 mg
  • Expected iron content in 100 gm of cereal: 6 mg
  • Expected zinc content in 100 gm of cereal: 4.5 mg

Result and Discussion

In the results, the %CV for moisture content in breakfast cereal is 0.13988%, which is less than 5%, indicating that the standard deviation is acceptable. Deviations in the results may be attributed to factors such as the cereal's protein content, hot air oven temperature settings, and the type of grain used in cereal production (Oxley, et al. (1996).

However, the calculated mineral content in the cereal, particularly sodium at 0.1591 mg/100g of cereal, does not match the Nutritional Information Panel (NIP) on the product's packaging, which states 265 mg/100g of cereal with significant fluctuations. This discrepancy could be due to various reasons, such as AAS machine malfunction, fluctuations during sample weighing, or laboratory errors during sample handling. Nonetheless, iron and zinc content are closer to the NIP values.


  1. Büning-Pfaue, H. (2003). Analysis of water in food by near-infrared spectroscopy. Food Chemistry, 82(1), 107-115.
  2. Castro-Rubio, A., Garcia, M.C., & Marina M.I. (2006). Rapid separation of soybean and cereal (wheat, corn and rice) proteins in complex mixtures. Application to the selective determination of the soybean protein content in the commercial cereal-based products. 558(1-2), 28-34. ISSN: 0003-2670. DOI: 10.1016/j.aca.2005.10.076
  3. Maslovaric, M., Belgrade J. R., & NoviSad J. N. (2011). Application of NIR technology in animal Food Technology. International Congress New Perspectives and Challenges of Substantial Livestock Production. ISSN: 1450-9156
  4. Oxley, T. A., Pixton, S. W., & Howe, R. W. (1960). Determination of Moisture content in cereals. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 11(1), 18-25.
  5. Ragaee, S., Abdel-Aal, E. S. M., & Noaman, M. (2006). Antioxidant activity and nutrient composition of selected cereals for food use. Food Chemistry, 98(1), 32-38.
  6. Vuataz, G., Meunier, V., & Andrieux, J.C. (2010). TG-DTA approach for designing reference methods for moisture content determination in food powders. Food Chemistry. 122(2), 436-442. ISSN: 0308-8146. DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2009.05.066.
Updated: Jan 04, 2024
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Determination of Moisture Content, Ash Content and Standard Curves for Breakfast Cereals. (2024, Jan 04). Retrieved from

Determination of Moisture Content, Ash Content and Standard Curves for Breakfast Cereals essay
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