Encapsulation Technologies Protect Key Ingredients

Encapsulation technologies protect key ingredients and deliver them at just the right moment.

By Kantha Shelke, Ingredients Editor

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The cooling sensation of menthol or the heating sensation of cinnamaldehydes is subjected to an initial spray-drying step to create the smallest particle size possible -- down to 0.5 micron. Those particles then are coated with a gum, wax or other water-insoluble substance so that with each chew, one or two capsules burst to provide the intended sensation.

The creators of Jolt gum took on quite a challenge when they set out to create a good tasting, effective caffeine gum. Microencapsulation to the rescue!

Recently, advancing sophistication of encapsulation technologies has enabled the controlled release of critical ingredients and even the staged delivery of ingredients to create multi-dimensional sensations. Dentyne Ice Cool Frost claims to have alternating bursts of sweetness (aspartame), cooling sensation (polyols) and mint flavor.

Kevin Gass of Gum Runners LLC (www.joltgum.com), Hackensack, N.J., said he did not know how difficult it would be to create a good tasting, effective caffeine gum. The company employed microencapsulation to deliver good taste and effective caffeine release in Jolt Caffeine Energy Gum. Two pieces of this gum provide the caffeine boost of a cup of coffee; one piece is equal to a cola.

Chicago-based O'lala Foods Inc. (www.olalafoods.com) used microencapsulation to create Choco'la -- a sugar-free and fat-free chewing gum that’s a chocolate alternative for diabetics and people on weight management programs. "O'lala's patent pending RST flavor system helps make low-fat products with the creamier mouthfeel associated with higher fat products,” explains Nik Rokop, nanotechnology expert and advisor to O'lala Foods.

“Microencapsulation technologies helped create fat mimetics that impart a creamy taste without all of the fat. Choco'la has creamy chocolate taste because we infused microencapsulates of real cocoa into a premium gum base," Rokop continues. “We also microencapsulated cocoa powder to get rid of the gritty texture and to create Chocolate On-the-Go -- a heat-stable chocolate that would not melt in your pocket or purse,” adds CEO Neil Wyant.

Hiding fish oils in bread

Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential because they are needed throughout the human life cycle, cannot be produced in the human body and therefore must be added through the diet. Two principal omega-3s are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) – long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids that are biologically active and physiologically essential for human health.

Americans do not consume enough EPA and DHA, perhaps because they are found in fish and fish oil and fish does not rank high in the American diet. What if you could get them in baked goods and other products without the taste and smell associated with fish oils?

Ocean Nutrition Canada Ltd. (www.ocean-nutrition.com), Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, employed microencapsulation to create Meg-3, a powder rich in EPA, DHA and omega-3s. This fortification can be added to a number of foods, including baked products, dairy products, cereal and nutrition bars, beverages (malts, shakes and smoothies) salad dressings and sauces, soups and meats. Three U.S. bread manufacturers have added Meg-3 to products: a white bread from New York-based Wegmans Food Markets; whole-grain bread from The Baker, Milford, N.J.; and Smart & Healthy 100 percent whole wheat bread from Arnold Foods Co., Long Island, N.Y.

Thanks to microencapsulation, Ocean Nutrition's Meg-3 can be used to fortify bread with no fishy aroma or taste.
“Freshly processed fish oil, like freshly made, high-quality sushi, is not fishy in odor or taste; the fishy notes that consumers associate with fish result only when fish oil has oxidized and become rancid,” explains Jennifer Berry, Ocean Nutrition’s director of business development-healthy ingredients. "Microencapsulation completely surrounds the active ingredient and leaves only traces on the surface of the encapsulated material. Less exposed material means less susceptibility to oxidation and less development of rancidity, off-flavors and aromas.

“Cross-linked gelatin produces a strong shell with superior integrity but sufficient flexibility so as to withstand shear and the temperature extremes associated with bakeries and dairy-based beverage production facilities,” she continues. “The beaded material, finer than flour, blends easily with flour and dairy ingredients and delivers the active contents only when acted upon by gastric proteases in the gastrointestinal tract."

A combination of encapsulation technologies – microencapsulation and coacervation – helped Beth Vincent, public health expert and mother of three, pack DHA as well as 14 vitamins and minerals recommended by the National Academy of Sciences into the Oh Mama! nutrition bar. She co-founded Vincent Foods (www.ohmamabar.com) in Baltimore, Md., to create these tasty, low-fat, healthy bars formulated specially for women who are trying to conceive, who are pregnant or who are nursing.

The Oh! Mama bar also provides 100 percent of the daily iron requirement in a palatable and bioavailable form – a remarkable formulation feat.

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