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New Processes Protect Valuable Ingredients

07 February 2015

Vitamins, mineral substances, fruit aromas or green tea catechins – many ingredients from the "microcosm" cannot be easily incorporated into the food matrix.

Only using new processes is it possible for manufacturers to ensure the stability of the valuable substances or to optimise their taste.

Agglomerates, granules or microencapsulated particles – from 24-27 March 2015 in Cologne, Anuga FoodTec, International supplier trade fair for the food and beverage industry, will not only present the significant trends in functional ingredients, the focus will also be on the fascinating array of technology, with which powdered and liquid substances can be modified.

No matter whether this involves emphasising the colourful features in multilayer desserts or adding a spicy wild garlic aroma to pastries: microscopically small capsules help to maintain natural colours and flavourings in food products.

A protective coating envelops the valuable substances.

The sophisticated principle behind this is microcapsuling.

This is used to homogeneously integrate solid or liquid active substances into a substrate such as a sugar-starch matrix.

Products in which extracts are protected from evaporation, oxidation and the effect of light are developed in this way. In water, they create a stable emulsion – this is how the colour shades remain in yoghurt "layer by layer".

More Than Just Hot Air

Together with substrates, the dispersed ingredients are thermally treated, for example in a fluidised bed or by spray drying.

Hot air is almost always part of the process and it is used to fluidise particles. In this condition, the individual particles are accessible from all round.

By injecting liquids, processes such as granulation, agglomeration, coating or microcapsuling are performed. Besides water, vitamins, fat or lecithin are applied to the particles in this way.

The result is a powder in which the functional substance is coated by a layer of just 0.1 to 500 micrometers in thickness. With the agglomeration, characteristics such as porosity, bulk density, dust content and solubility can be accurately adjusted.

When coating, however, a film forms in several layers, in which the particles retain a homogenous, stable casing. The combination of spray drying and agglomeration in turn enables products to be made with optimum instant properties such as curry powder.

Poorly soluble due to its high fat content, it can be prepared as an instantised powder in hot water quickly and without clumps.

The methods provide support in the manufacture of countless products such as for evenly distributing vitamins and mineral nutrients in fruit juices or taking flavourings in dry mixtures safely through the production process.

Coated in starch, fruit aromas in instant teas may survive for months unscathed.

The aroma is only released in warming hot drinks or refreshing cold drinks and ensures pleasure from every cup.

In contrast, coating with vegetable fats masks the metallic or astringent flavour of mineral substances. In instant soups, it enables a continuous aroma release, through which the products remain ready to serve for a prolonged period without losing their taste.

In baking powder, it controls the functionality so that it only sets in at a particular temperature.

Protective Cover for Freshness

Modern capsuling techniques allow food companies not only to improve the nutritious and technological properties of their beverages, sweets, cereals and snacks.

They also enable completely new taste experiences. Like serial tasting.

The highlight: The aromas are released "step by step" from their microcapsules, which transport the flavour.

For example, an American aroma specialist has developed a crunchy bar that unfolds three flavours in succession. The first bite, which tastes of orange, is followed by wild fruit and banana when you continue to chew it.

In light of such developments, the playing field for food manufacturers should continue growing in the future. In many projects in the food industry, the potential for even smaller ingredients is being explored. The researchers want to know how these can be used to extend the shelf life of foods.

In doing this, they are making use of the fact that the physical and chemical properties change as the particle size decreases. Among other things, the diffusion of light decreases, creating new colour properties.

The surface also increases in proportion to the volume, which enables the particles to react more vigorously. One result of their work: With a layer of just a few nanometers in thickness, the shelf life of meat, cheese, fruit or sweets is extended – a protective cover for freshness in the nanocosm.

At Anuga FoodTec, manufacturers of functional ingredients present solutions for use in various production stages of foods and beverages.

The significance of these ingredients within the product chain is underlined by the new "Meeting Point – Food Ingredients", which presents ingredients providers on a connected presentation display area. Daily impulse presentations are offered on this area by the British specialist publisher FoodBev.

January 2015

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