Creating An Optimum Premix

Nutrient premixes can streamline production processes and help manufacturers save on costs. Besides considering the interactions of the ingredients, a good premix must take into account overages as well. By Cathy Arnold, senior formulation scientist, Fortitech

Nutrient premixes are used in a variety of applications by food beverage and pharmaceutical manufacturers throughout the world. They offer numerous benefits, including the streamlining of the production process, by providing a single source of multiple nutrients. Additionally, manufacturers can experience savings on labour, inventory and testing. 

Premixes also offer greater consistency and help address issues surrounding product taste and texture early in the development stage. Use of a premix greatly reduces the chance of incorrectly weighing materials during the manufacturing process of a finished product. All of these potential errors can be avoided by using a custom nutrient premix. 

While each premix varies, there are certain trends that can be observed in requests for specific ingredients outside of the common vitamins and minerals used in formulations. A few of the most popular nutrients that are being requested include calcium, antioxidants, CLA, omega 3s, sterols, polyphenols, CoQ10 and prebiotic fibres such as inulin and oligofructose.

 

Ingredient Interactions

When more than one nutrient is being added to fortify food and/or beverage products, a formulation scientist must consider interactions, both positive and negative, which could take place. 

An example of this is seen with vitamin C and iron. Vitamin C has been shown to improve iron’s bioavailability. Other studies have indicated that iron and other trace minerals increase the rate of ascorbic acid destruction via oxidisation. This reaction was dependent on there being sufficient moisture to facilitate the mobility of the trace mineral ions. 

Blending and processing techniques can make the difference between producing a reliable, high quality, homogenous, shelf-stable product and an inferior one that may cause poor consumer confidence, potential regulatory issues or recall situations. Particle size blending equipment and the type of ingredients used are primary considerations for blending and processing. 

The challenge in blending ingredients with different particle sizes is that bulk density and variable particle sizes can lead to segregation. Therefore, minor nutrients should be diluted with a carrier for homogeneous blending. 

In the nutraceutical/functional food industries, combination products are the norm and the most common nutrients are vitamins, minerals, amino acids, nucleotides and other functional food ingredients offered in a single serving of powdered products—tablet or capsule. 

The average premix formulation contains 10 to 14 active nutrients and three to six functional ingredients, along with carriers (excipients). Some formulations can contain more than 30 active nutrients and carriers.

 

Getting A Homogenous Blend

Making a uniform blend is one of the most important factors for successfully manufacturing premixes. There are basic steps to follow when dry-blending a multiple-ingredient formula to make a homogeneous premix:

  1. Test all active ingredients for identity and potency limits. If raw materials are not tested prior to use, it may be difficult to determine whether a problem with the final product is related to blending or to the ingredients.
  2. If possible, render all ingredients free-flowing. This can be done with milling, granulation, making pre-blends, trituration, spray drying and other techniques.
  3. Purchase ingredients that have consistent particle size distribution or that have a narrow range of variation.
  4. Screen lumpy or cohesive ingredients as needed. It will improve homogeneity.
  5. Always add a portion of the largest quantity ingredient to the blender first. It will coat the blender and prevent lesser ingredients from sticking to the walls.
  6. Before adding small-quantity active nutrients to the blend, be sure that each one is geometrically diluted to assist with adequate blending. That helps prevent loss from ingredients adhering to the blender wall or because the material had not been dispersed uniformly.

 

Accounting For Overages

Important technical aspects that need to be considered when creating food and beverage premixes are the choice of carrier, nutrient interactions, bioavailability of nutrients and stability of nutrients relative to their storage and processing conditions. 

A well formulated product should not cause nutrition imbalance, and excessive intake of nutrients should not have caused adverse effects to the product’s taste, colour or other nutrients. To provide better information for the consumer, the concept of overage should be introduced. 

Overage is the use of kinetic data on nutrient stability to calculate the amount of added nutrient so that the anticipated level of the nutrient at the end of the product’s shelf life is in accordance with the level indicated on the label.

Greg M
 Greg M

The stability of the individual vitamins varies from the relatively stable, such as niacin, to the highly unstable, such as vitamins B1 and vitamins A and C. The factors that affect the stability vary from vitamin to vitamin. The most important of these factors are heat, moisture, oxygen, pH and light.

The degradation of vitamins can take place naturally during storage, processing and preparation of finished foods and interactions with other components of foods. The factors that affecFt the degradation of vitamins are the same, whether the vitamins are endogenous in foods, or are added as fortificants. Minerals are generally stable. However, the presence of copper and iron, for example, may have an impact on vitamin stability.

Because of the stability issues mentioned above, one has to incorporate appropriate overages during the development phase of a food/beverage development program. 

 

Product Label Claims

In addition, one has to consider the following to meet the label claims at the end of shelf life:

  • Endogenous levels of vitamins
  • Due to variable stability for the vitamins, one has to know the list of vitamins added to fortify food/beverage products.
  • Add overages to compensate for degradation due to the factors mentioned above
  • Analytical overages due to method variability from lab to lab

As we know that no two vitamins will degrade at the same rate in a food at any set of conditions, the food technologist has to determine the rate of deterioration of each vitamin and then increase the amount added to the product during manufacturing to ensure that the label claim is met throughout the life of the product. 

The difference between the formulated and declared level is considered the appropriate overage. No one can give an exact percentage loss. However, based on experience, suggested overages for some of the selected nutrients in general (subject to finished products, processing conditions, etc.) are as follows:

Nutrient

Percent Overage

Vitamin A

20-40

Vitamin D

15-25

Vitamin E

10-25

Vitamin B1

10-70

Vitamin B2

10-20

Vitamin B3

10-25

Vitamin B6

30-50

Vitamin B12

25-50

Folic Acid

25-70

Vitamin C

25-100

Iron

5

Calcium

5

Even with all the precautions and built-in overages added to ensure the stability of micronutrients in foods and beverages, some losses still do occur during distribution and storage. Proper storage conditions and appropriate packaging can reduce micronutrient loss during distribution.

The future of nutrient premixes and food fortification in general is very exciting and dynamic. The demand for functional foods and beverages continues to grow, with the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries offering major growth opportunities for manufacturers. 

Consumers are constantly dealing with overindulgences that have contributed to specific health problems such as obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. This means there’s a wealth of opportunity for manufacturers to create products that address these problems. 

 

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  • Last modified on Wednesday, 23 April 2014 16:46
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