Consumers are becoming more health conscious and food manufacturers are pursuing innovative ways to produce food that can deliver specific health benefits without compromising the taste or quality of their products. Incorporation of bioactive compounds, or ‘nutraceuticals’, into food systems can provide a simple way to develop novel ‘functional foods’ with health-promoting and/or disease-preventing properties.
Examples of functional foods are probiotic (live bacteria) drinks or cholesterol-lowering spreads.
Bioencapsulation, or entrapment, is the process by which the active ingredient is densely packed into minute particles of liquid or solid material (encapsulant) or coated by a shielding material.
“Bioencapsulation is going to play an important role in the development of food that contains added health-promoting ingredients,” explains Dr Andrι Brodkorb in the latest issue of TResearch, Teagasc’s research and innovation magazine.
Brodkorb and his colleagues in Moorepark Food Research Centre are working on the bioencapsulation of probiotics.
“Many bioactive ingredients are reactive and can interact with other food ingredients. The results are often undesired secondary products, or even degradation of the bioactive material and, ultimately, a loss in the commercial value of the food product. Encapsulation can prevent this by shielding the bioactives from detrimental environmental conditions met during processing, shelf-life and gastro-intestinal digestion, such as heat, low pH, oxygen, digestive enzymes and bile salts,” Brodkorb explains.
This article was featured in 'TResearch', Volume 4, Number 1, Spring 2009.
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