It handed Kievit the 2009 Global Infant Nutrition Technology Innovation Award for developing “a breakthrough innovative micro-encapsulation technique” that allowed omega-3s to be employed in protein-free, hypoallergenic infant formulae for the first time.
Kievit debuted the technology last year, of which Frost & Sullivan commented the company had created, “a new milestone in the market.”
Fatty acids such as DHA (omega-3) and ARA (omega-6) are incorporated into many infant formulas and have been shown in some studies to benefit infant and foetal brain and visual development, and are also thought to play a role in battling allergies.
“A major problem in hypoallergenic infant formulae is that they face oxidation and other stability problems when functional ingredients like ARA and DHA are incorporated into the fat blend,” Frost & Sullivan said.
Kievit was able to devise a starch-based method for the omega-3s to be spray-dried in a microencapsulated and very stable form before being added to hypoallergenic formulas purchased by caregivers concerned about potential for allergic reactions such as diarrhea, vomiting, atopic dermatitis and wheezing.
Hypoallergenic formulas account for up to 20 per cent of the infant formula market in places like Germany and the Netherlands, and are growing by 10 per cent each year as western infant allergy rates rises, the company said.
The new ingredient, called Vana Sana DH 7 IF, is sourced from fish oil and algae and it sells at a premium of about 20 per cent over regular DHA and ARA ingredients.
Previously long chain fatty acids could not be easily dry-blended into hypoallergenic infant formulas because they were traditionally blended with dairy proteins that are not suitable in hypoallergenic formulas.
The spray drying and encapsulation technology may be applied to its probiotic ingredients, as well as high-dose DHA offerings including those of its customers such as global leader Martek Biosciences. The technology has also been used with medium chain triglycerides (MCT) and other specialist infant nutrients.
Hypoallergenic infant formula is typically made from milk that has had its protein content hydrolysed, often appearing on-market as lactose-free or ‘HA formula’.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends minimal infant consumptionof 40mg/kg/day for ARA and 20mg/kg/day for DHA for infants.