There are many benefits that can be achieved through microencapsulation. Knowing when to use this technology is key to formulating products that will be successful in the market.
- Flavor and Odor Masking: Increases consumer acceptance by minimizing unpleasant tastes and odors
associated with certain nutrients.
- Protection: From moisture, acids, ingredient interactions, heat, and exposure to oxygen.
- Precision: The stability afforded by encapsulated ingredients allows measuring and delivery of precise levels of the desired nutrient.
- Reduce Overages: To ensure a label claim is met, often higher levels or “overages” must be added to compensate for expected losses in nutrient potency that occur during processing. Given the high costs of many vitamins, these overages can eat into your profit margin over time. Encapsulation protects these nutrients, reducing losses and minimizing overages, resulting in significant cost savings.
- Release Parameters: Engineered so that the nutrient can be protected from processing losses, but can be released when desired. For instance: timed to release at a specified temperature or in the stomach for digestion.
- Effectiveness: Encapsulation is critical to such products as medical foods, nutraceuticals, and meal-replacement products where characteristics such as stability, bioavailability, delivery, and effectiveness are closely regulated.
- Ease of Handling: Encapsulated ingredients are dry and free-flowing.
Benefits of Microencapsulation for the Consumer:
Flavor and odor masking of ingredients for foods and supplements
One of the first benefits that most people think of when they think of microencapsulation is flavor-masking. Masking the off-flavors associated with some nutrients is essential. The products we fortify, first and foremost, must taste good—otherwise, no one will eat them. By coating the vitamins and minerals that have objectionable flavors, we can minimize their impact on the flavor profile of the finished product, both for foods and chewable supplements.
Perhaps this is most evident in fortified Nutrition Bars, where typically 25% to 40% of the DV, for 20 or more vitamins and minerals, are incorporated into a bar weighing less than 2 ounces. A typical fortified nutrition bar or meal-replacement bar would taste terrible if microencapsulation were not used to mask the off-flavors of certain nutrients. The same holds true for Children’s Chewable Vitamins. Microencapsulation masks the flavor of the nutrients, so all that the children can taste are the fruit flavors.
Along these same lines is odor-masking. Imagine how unappealing a meal-replacement bar would be if it smelled of vitamins when you opened the foil wrapper. Microencapsulation is effective in masking the undesirable odors associated with many nutrients.
Benefits of Microencapsulation for the Manufacturer:
Protection of nutrients for increased stability
So far, we’ve been reviewing benefits that impact consumer appeal. But there are also benefits that impact costs for the manufacturer, and make fortified foods more economical for the end consumer. One of the most important benefits of microencapsulation is improving the stability of nutrients, preventing ingredient interactions and degradation. The coating matrix effectively separates particles and prevents them from contacting each other. It also protects them from moisture and oxygen, extending the product’s shelf life.
Precise nutrient amounts
The improved nutrient stability achieved through microencapsulation also means that the nutrient levels in a product can be precisely controlled.
Reduced overages for cost savings
Microencapsulation can also reduce the overages required, by minimizing losses. Overages can be expensive, and minimizing them will have a positive impact on gross margin.
Controlled release in the body and during processing
Another benefit of microencapsulation is the control of release point, or release parameters. Through controlled-release microencapsulation, we can control when the core (active material) is released. In this way, reactive materials can be released at the point in the process where the chemical reaction is desired.
The release mechanism may be a change in pH or temperature, the introduction of a chemical agent, the application of pressure, or an increase in moisture level. For example, flavors can be released during chewing.
An important application of controlled release during processing is the use of microencapsulated sorbic acid in baking. Watson’s Sorbic Acid 50%, which is encapsulated with vegetable oil, is used in the baking industry as a shelf-life extender to prevent mold growth. Click to see our complete Bakery Ingredient product line.
The microencapsulation matrix, or coating, prevents the sorbic acid from interfering with yeast activity. If it’s released too early, or if uncoated sorbic acid is used in a yeast-raised product, the sorbic acid kills the yeast, and the bread won’t rise. The coating melts only during the baking process, releasing the sorbic acid prior to completion of the bake. By the time the sorbic acid is released, the yeast is no longer active and the leavening has been completed. Once released, the sorbic acid works to inhibit mold growth throughout the product’s shelf life.
For certain products, such as medical foods and nutraceuticals, product effectiveness is closely regulated. Microencapsulation is critical for these types of products to ensure optimal nutrient stability, delivery, and bioavailability.
Ease of handling in production
Another valuable application of microencapsulation is to improve handling during production. Hygroscopic ingredients that tend to clump during processing can be encapsulated to improve their flowability. Microencapsulation can also be used to convert liquids into free-flowing powders.
Learn More About Microencapsulation:
Our expertise in Fluid Bed Technology has allowed us to become a leader in supplying microencapsulated ingredients around the world. To learn if Microencapsulation Technology is right for your products, click to access our on-demand webinar.