Quaker receives patent for manufacturing process

by Eric Schroeder
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CHICAGO — The Quaker Oats Co. has patented a process that it claims cuts time, costs and waste related to the manufacture of granola and snack food products.

Filed Jan. 11, 2002, and approved Jan. 30, 2007, by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the process is believed to be an improvement upon the traditional method of manufacture, in which basic ingredients such as a sugar solution and dried components such as nuts, dried fruit and cereal are mixed and formed into large sheets.

According to Quaker, the traditional method is time consuming and the subsequent step of breaking or cutting the sheet of dried components may result in excess waste of material.

Quaker said its invention provides a method of making a granola or snack food products "in which the drying time required to make the product is reduced. A further object of the present invention is to provide a method of making a granola or snack food product in which there is reduced wastage of material in forming the end product. It is a still further object of the present invention generally to increase the production efficiency of making such products."

To achieve its objectives, Quaker said its method involves mixing ingredients at a higher temperature than normally used, which allows the products to be cooled at room temperature.

"Unlike prior art apparatus, the invention avoids a drying oven that holds up the rest of the production line whilst large amounts of product precursors are being slowly dried to an acceptable water content," Quaker said.

In addition, Quaker noted that certain aspects of the invention make it a viable process for developing a range of snack food products that contain melting ingredients.

"Once the product has been formed, melting ingredients, including for example chocolate, can of course be applied to the cooled products, usually to the outside," Quaker said. "The food items that can be made according to the process of the present invention include those containing nuts, fruit, dried fruit, cereal products and cereal flakes, and these preferably comprise a combination of oat flakes, wheat flakes, hazelnuts and coconut."

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