Uncertainty analysis of hygrometer-obtained water activity measurements of saturated salt slurries and food materials

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Water activity is a critical food stability parameter. Thus, assessment of the uncertainty associated with the instruments and measurement procedures used to obtain aw data is critical and can be accomplished using uncertainty analysis. Uncertainty analysis was applied to aw data obtained for two saturated salt slurries (potassium acetate and potassium chloride) and two food materials (corn flakes and grape jam) at 25 °C using a commercially available dew point hygrometer, the AquaLab 3TE. Sources of uncertainty investigated included sample and dew point temperatures, sample lot, cup volume, and sample preparation ("as is" or ground), and day to day changes. Uncertainty analysis revealed that the magnitude of the different sources of uncertainty depended on material type, but that the dew point hygrometer instrument uncertainty was always significantly smaller than each of the other sources of uncertainty investigated, except for jam cup volume, which was exceeding small. Uncertainty analysis also revealed that dew point hygrometer accuracy was better than the ±0.003 aw value reported by the manufacturer. Measurement procedures were identified that could be implemented to reduce aw measurement uncertainty for corn flake and jam food materials. The uncertainty analysis used herein can also be applied to investigate other food materials and/or instruments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)214-226
Number of pages13
JournalFood chemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2009


  • AquaLab
  • Dew point
  • Hygrometer
  • Uncertainty analysis
  • Water activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Food Science


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