MINNEAPOLIS — Pelletizing a particulate insoluble component, such as fiber and/or calcium, may make it easier to fortify cereal, according to a patent filed Sept. 19 by Minneapolis-based General Mills, Inc.

The expansion of ready-to-eat breakfast cereal depends on an unimpeded expansion of the molten starch, according to the patent filing. Solid insoluble particles like dietary fiber or calcium carbonate may interfere with the bubble forming process and hamper the extent and direction of the expansion. This action may result in adverse effects on texture or mouthfeel, such as grittiness, surface appearance and bowl life.

Under the filed patent, a binder component, such as gelatinized starch, is used to bind particles of the particulate insoluble component into a coherent mass, which is formed into non-expanded pellets. The expanded cereal products, such as extruded puffed ready-to-eat cereals that contain the pellets, exhibit such attributes as a crisp, uniform texture and cell structure, improved, prolonged bowl life, a non-gritty mouthfeel, and a smooth, uniform surface appearance, according to the patent filing.

“Solid insoluble particles such as dietary fiber or calcium are pelletized so that they do not interfere with the bubble forming process and do not hamper the extent and direction of the expansion . . .” the filing said.

The pelletized neutraceutical products contain “relatively low amounts” of starch or other materials used in the encapsulation of the neutraceuticals, which increases the amount of the insoluble nutritional component available for fortification or for incorporation into expanded R.-T.-E. cereal products.