Main Article Content
breakage, crack, defect, packaging, dried pasta, quality control
Cracks and broken pieces (crumbles) are among the main defects of dried pasta since they affect the quality perception of consumers already at purchase. They originate during drying as a consequence of non-uniform moisture and/or temperature distributions but also after drying due to the collisions among pasta pieces and with the plant surfaces. This work was aimed to highlight the critical points and to plan preventive solutions in order to reduce the frequency of these defects in rigatoni, mezzi rigatoni, zitoni tagliati, and maccheroni produced in an industrial factory. The results show that cracks and breakages significantly increased at pasta packaging (+335 and +100%, respectively) and cardboard box preparation (+60 and 30%, respectively), which represent the critical steps. The percentage of defects was higher in longer pasta (rigatoni) and inversely correlated with pasta thickness (R=0.96). No correlations were found between cracks/breakages and semolina protein content/gluten index or pasta moisture. An increase in % of cracks was observed in the packaging line equipped with a long and narrow loading hopper. The installation of a shutter in the drop cone of the multi-head scale dramatically reduced cracks and breakages.