It would take a while to list all the ways encapsulated ingredients may improve processed foods and beverages. Recent innovations have focused on keeping probiotics alive in ice cream, releasing flavor in stages in chewing gum and improving leavening in baked foods.
Probiotics, also known as healthy bacteria, may improve digestion but only if a significant number survive in a finished product and during human digestion. A research study performed in Iran and published on-line March 16 by Food Chemistry focused on how encapsulation may keep probiotics alive.
The researchers used ice cream containing resistant starch and the probiotics Lactobacillus casei (Lc-01) and Bifidobacterium lactis (Bb-12). The ice cream was divided into two groups: one with the probiotics encapsulated with calcium alginate beads and one with the probiotics not encapsulated. The probiotic survival rate rose 30% in the encapsulated group.
"In general, the results indicated that encapsulation can significantly increase the survival rate of probiotic bacteria in ice cream over an extended shelf life," the researchers said. "The addition of encapsulated probiotics had no significant effect on the sensory properties of non-fermented ice cream in which we used the resistant starch as a prebiotic compound."
Balchem Encapsulates, New Hampton, N.Y., owns proprietary technology that is applicable to encapsulating probiotics, said Migue Dejong, business director.
"The main benefits of using encapsulation for probiotics are to extend activity and protect probiotics during food processing as well as in the final product," he said. "It also makes it possible to incorporate the probiotics in food products that were traditionally barred from having an effective probiotic fortification such as bakery, cereal and other applications."
Balchem Encapsulates currently is focusing on the bakery segment in general, Mr. Dejong said.
"Balchem’s controlled-release leavening technology helps baked goods producers to improve their finished products, without changing their process or packaging," he said.
For example, in chemically leavened products such as tortillas, acids are used to lower the pH and allow preservatives to perform. The acids may compromise dough development and trigger premature leavening. Balchem’s Bakeshure microencapsulation protects the acids through dough development, and the acids are not released until baking.
Flavorshure, a line of encapsulated flavor ingredients from Balchem Encapsulates, may be used to control when, where and how flavor is delivered. The ingredients also may extend a flavor’s shelf life, Mr. Dejong said.
The Qpearl Release flavor range launched recently by Quest, Naarden, The Netherlands, offers similar benefits. The flavor-encapsulating matrix may allow for one or more flavor bursts in chewing gum along with postponed and prolonged flavor delivery.
Symrise has developed encapsulation technologies for stabilizing flavors, making flavors last longer and masking unpleasant tastes. Encapsulated flavors, according to the company, also may provide advantages in visual effects, reduced odor and longer shelf life.
Encapsulated flavors from Symrise’s Evoglass technology may work in toppings for baked foods, dairy products, and energy and meal replacement bars. Evoglass, according to the company, may provide a crunchy texture in soft products like chocolate and gum, and it does not leave a pitted surface when dissolved in the mouth.
This article can also be found in the digital edition of Food Business News, May 13, 2008, starting on Page 46. Click