Product & Export Management. EU - Dairy Products / Infant formula milk powder process



BABY FORMULA PROCESS. Baby formula is a synthetic version of mothers' milk and belongs to a class of materials known as dairy substitutes. Dairy substitutes have been used since the early nineteenth century for products like oleomargarine and filled cheese. They are made by blending fats, proteins, and carbohydrates using the same technology and equipment used to manufacture real dairy products. Since the 1940s, advances in processing techniques such as homogenization, fluid blending, and continuous batching and filling have greatly improved the ways imitation dairy products, like formula, are made. The sales of infant formulas have also improved over the last several decades. Until the early 1990s, infant formula was sold only as a pharmaceutical product. Salespeople presented their brands to pediatricians who would then recommend the products to new mothers. There is some degree of controversy associated with marketing infant formula, however. There are concerns that formula is not as healthy for babies as breast milk and babies may actually become ill if the formula is improperly mixed or administered. Furthermore, once mothers have begun formula feeding on a regular basis it is difficult to return to breastfeeding. World Health Organization (WHO), recommend that babies be completely breastfed for the first six months and that breast milk continue to be used as part of their diet until at least the beginning of the child's second year.

DESIGN should be noted that the design of infant formulas is highly complex due to the nature of the biological requirments of the developing child. What follows is a generalized description of some of the key areas of infant formulations and is not meant to be an exhaustive review of the relevant nutritional chemistry. The key to successful formula design is to match as closely as possible the physical and nutritional properties of breast milk. Milk is a natural emulsion, which means it is a fine dispersion of tiny droplets of fats and oils suspended in water. Milk also contains important components including proteins, sugars, minerals, salts, and trace elements. Formula is made by blending similar materials in an attempt to match the characteristics of true milk. Formula design typically falls into one of three categories: Milk based formulas (containing milk components such as casein or whey protein) These formulas typically start with cow milk as a base since most infants have no problem ingesting cow's milk. This type of formula is fortified with extra nutritional elements.

RAW MATERIALS as described above, protein used in formulas can come from a variety of sources such animal milk or soybeans. Soy milk is made by taking soybeans, soaking them in baking soda, draining them, grinding the beans, then diluting the mixture with water and homogenizing it. The proteins, which come from soybeans, may be in the form of protein concentrates or protein isolates. The latter helps eliminate or reduce carbohydrates that can cause flatulence and abnormal stools. Other useful proteins can be derived from nuts, fish, and cottonseed oil but these have limited application in infant formulas.

FAT + CARBOHYDRATES: Fats and vegetable oils are an important dietary requirement for infants. Therefore formulations attempt to match the serum fatty acid profile of real breast milk. These fatty acids include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) which may be derived from fish oil and other sources. In actual breast milk there is a significant amount of fatty compounds known as triglycerides. For example, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is believed to be an important triglycerides.

Triglycerides which are similar to (but not biochemically identical to) those found in breast milk can be derived from egg yolk phospholipids. Alternatively, fatty acid precursors (molecules which react to form dietary fatty acids) may be added to infant formula. These precursors (e.g., alpha and gamma linolenic acid) allow the infants' bodies to synthesize the necessary fatty acids. However, this method is not as efficient for delivering fatty acids as breast milk is.




DILUENTS: The diluent is the carrier or bulk of the liquid of the formula. For milk based formulations, skim milk may be used as the primary diluent. In milk free formulations, purified water is used.

MINERALS: A number of essential minerals are added to infant formula. These include calcium, phosphate, sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, sulfur, copper, zinc, iodine, and iron. Iron is one of the most important components since all babies need a source of iron in their diet. Some parents are concerned that iron-fortified formulas cause intestinal problems in infants but this is a myth. In general parents can expect formula fed babies to experience more gastrointestinal problems than breastfed babies.

Vitamins are added to increase the nutritional value of formula. These include vitamins A, B12, C, D, and E as well as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, pantothenate, and folacin.

EMULSIFIER / STABILIZERA variety of materials are added to ensure the formula stays homogenous and that the oil and water soluble components do not Once mixing is complete, the batch can be temporarily stored or transported via pipeline to pasteurization equipment. After pasteurization is complete, the batch may be processed further by homogenization. These include emulsifiers such as mono and di-glycerides as well as thickeners like natural starches and gums (e.g., such carrageenan.)The Manufacturing Process.

The method of manufacture depends on the type of formula being made. The following steps describe a general procedure for a ready-to-feed, milk-based formula.

1. MIXING INGREDIENTS: The primary ingredients are blended in large stainless steel tanks. The skim milk is added and adjusted to 140° F (60° C). Fats, vegetable oils and emulsifiers are added next. Additional heating and mixing may be required to yield the proper consistency. Minerals, vitamins, and stabilizing gums may be added at various points in the process depending on their sensitivity to heat. Once mixing is complete, the batch can be temporarily stored or transported via pipeline to pasteurization equipment.

2. PASTEURIZATION: Pasteurization is a process that protects against spoilage by eliminating bacteria, yeasts, and molds. Pasteurization involves quickly heating and cooling the product under controlled conditions which micro organisms cannot survive. A temperature of 185-201.2° F (85-94° C), held for about 30 seconds, is necessary to adequately reduce micro organisms and prepare the formula for filling. Several pasteurization methods are commercially available-one common method warms the formula by sending it through a tube adjacent to heat plate heat exchanger. Thus the formula is heated indirectly. Another method heats formula directly and then uses the heated liquid to preheat the rest of the incoming formula. The preheated formula is further heated with steam or hot water to the pasteurization temperature. After pasteurization is complete, the batch may be processed further by homogenization.

3. HOMOGENIZATION: Homogenization is a process which increases emulsion uniformity and stability by reducing the size of the fat and oil particles in the formula. This process can be done with a variety of mixing equipment, which applies high shear to the product. This type of mixing breaks the fat and oil particles into very small droplets.

4. STANDARDIZATION: The resulting composition is standardized to ensure key parameters, such as pH, fat concentration, and vitamin and mineral are correct. If any of these materials are at insufficient levels the batch can be reworked to achieve the appropriate levels.

5. PACKAGING: Packaging process depends on the manufacturer and type of equipment employed, but in general, the formula is filled into metal cans which have lids crimped into place. These can be filled on conventional filling equipment commonly used in the food and beverage industry.

6. STERILIZATION: The filled packages can be subsequently heated and cooled to destroy any additional micro organisms. The finished cans are then packed in cartons and stored for shipping. Quality of infant formula is ensured at three levels, which have some degree of overlap. First, in Europe , there are governmental standards, which establish the nutritional quality of infant formulas and other dairy substitutes. Specific details of these standards can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations; more information is available from the EFSA which regulates infant formula as a special diet food. EFSA publishes a monograph detailing everything from the mandated nutrient list to label copy and artwork used on packaging. Second, the dairy industry sets its own industry-wide quality control standards. The industry is self-policing and has its own regulatory organization, the International Dairy Federation, which sets industry standards for manufacturing and quality control. Third, individual companies set their own standards for quality control. For example Atlas Aliment Enterprise, one producer of triglycerides used in formula, has microbiologists and engineers monitor 30 different checkpoints of triglyceride production, 24 hours a day.

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