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New technology supports heat-sensitive nutrients in snacks and biscuits

By Kacey Culliney , 26-Mar-2013
Last updated on 26-Mar-2013 at 15:25 GMT

Fish oil Omega-3 is one of the hardest to incorporate into snacks given its flavor sensitivity, Horton says
Fish oil Omega-3 is one of the hardest to incorporate into snacks given its flavor sensitivity, Horton says

Biosciences firm Carritech Research has developed a processing and formulation technology to manufacture snacks and biscuits with heat-sensitive nutrients and vitamins.

Its technology, developed over the past decade, uses vacuum ovens to expand snacks and biscuits at low temperatures and carefully layered formulas to ensure steady incorporation of ingredients such as fish-derived omega-3, vitamin C, ceratine and B vitamins. 

The Northern Ireland-headquartered firm is looking for partners to upscale and develop nutrient-rich products.

Tackling heat damage

“Traditional baking or extrusion manufacturing processes cannot handle certain heat-sensitive nutrients,” said Dr Richard Horton, founder and managing director (MD) of Carritech.

“Many are damaged by the high temperatures found in these traditional processes,” Horton said.

A number of nutrients are heat or flavor sensitive during processing, including fish oil omega-3, vitamin C, creatine and B vitamins.

Horton said the firm’s technology can drop temperatures during the expansion process to lows of 35-45⁰C, enabling heat-sensitive vitamins and nutrients to be incorporated into the formula without being damaged.

“There is no encapsulation; that is one of the beauties of it. We are simply mixing the nutrient at the powder blending stage or when liquid is being added - before the expansion process…The key is the fact we’re able to process the formula at low temperatures.”

“…Bioavailability of the nutrients has been researched and there is very little chance we would be rendering the nutrients so they are not available to digest,” he said.

Omega-3, vitamin C and creatine

The company founder said research and development (R&D) has focused on fish oil omega-3 because of known flavor problems during processing along with vitamin C, creatine and B vitamins.

“This is a platform technology on which you can literally develop hundreds, even thousands, of applications,” Horton said.

Formulations can be developed with high or low calorie content, varied texture and mouth feel, different flavors and a broad range of nutrient and vitamins.

Extruded snacks, biscuits, breakfast cereal or crunchy inclusions can be manufactured to target the kid’s, senior and sports nutrition markets.

“The technology is all about making good nutrition enjoyable,” Horton said.

Tackling malnutrition in developing countries

The founder revealed that Carritech’s latest stint of research worked with a vitamin and nutrient premix developed in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO). The mix that includes around 16 different vitamins and nutrients is fairly poor tasting and used to sprinkle onto food, he said, but Carritech incorporated the mix into a 20g biscuit and snack portion, masking the taste.

“This is a very important step forward. We can potentially deliver the same nutritional mix in something that tastes better.”

Working with ‘innovative and dynamic’ partners

Horton said working with innovative and dynamic partners is important for Carritech given the nature of the technology. “This is an unusual and highly innovative technology and not everyone will want to take risks and develop new products using it,” he said.

The technology has granted patents in the UK and South Africa and is patent-pending across Europe, the US, Canada, Japan and New Zealand.

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