Maximizing Efficiency in Food and Feed Production
The science behind microencapsulation is becoming increasingly important across diverse domains such as nutrient delivery in animals and humans, food, cosmetics, biomedical diagnostics and, drug therapy. Microencapsulation, as a technology platform, is increasingly being developed for and used in such industries for their outstanding features and benefits they render. Primarily, these benefits include superior bioavailability of compounds in drug delivery systems given that close to half of drugs being developed are marred with issues of poor bioavailability. Innovative microencapsulation techniques are promoting such benefits and have made modulation of particle densities feasible for achieving specifications for porous and lightweight materials.
No More Mineral Complexes that Reduce Bioavailability in Animal Feed Application
Microencapsulation, is a technology that is well known in the area of pharmaceuticals but is relatively new in the food industry. Despite being a relatively new technology in the food and animal industries, this technology has carved a niche for itself within a short amount of time, making it one of the widely deployed technologies within the food sector. This technology is untapped relative to its potential to be used to deliver beneficial bioactive, reactive and unstable nutrients such as minerals, amino acids and others into the distal portion of an animal gastrointestinal tract. In terms of animals, an immediate application where this technology can be used to provide a solution is in the area of overcoming copper deficiency. Copper deficiency has been identified as a serious problem for grazing ruminants (cows, sheep, goats). A deficiency may be due to low concentrations of copper in forages and can be further exaggerated when molybdenum, iron and sulfur levels are elevated. Molybdenum and selenium interfere with copper absorption by forming thiomolybdates that bind copper, resulting in compounds that cannot be absorbed by the animal. Copper is an essential trace element required for enzyme systems, iron metabolism, connective tissue metabolism and mobilization, plus integrity of the central nervous and immune systems. Copper functions in the immune system through energy production, neutrophil activity and antioxidant enzyme production. It also aids development of antibodies and lymphocyte replication. Reproductive efficiency may be reduced when a copper deficiency occurs because of metabolic alterations of enzyme systems.
Decreased, liver copper levels can be caused by excessive iron in the diet. Studies have shown that molybdenum appears to have an additive action with iron by decreasing liver copper, while sulfur and iron had independent effects on copper. The antagonistic mechanism of iron is not well understood. It has been reported that iron may form ferrous sulfide complexes in the rumen that solubilize in the abomasum, allowing the sulfide to dissociate and form insoluble complexes with copper.
With this technology no more will animal nutritionists have to worry about complexes such as copper and molybdenum, which in the rumen, form complexes and render these compounds unavailable. Microencapsulation offers the potential to protect either copper or molybdenum such that they cannot be degraded in the rumen to form complexes. Instead, individual compounds can be released at the site of absorption where they will be most beneficial. The technology can be used to increase the efficiency of nutrient utilization across multiple species.
Food and Nutrient Application
Microencapsulation has been finding usage in various food processing applications. It is being used to deliver high impact flavor which creates a more pleasing flavor experience. No more does one have to smell the strong aroma of a flavor only to find out that the flavor is no longer there when the finished product, such as popcorn, is tasted. The technology is also being used to optimize the leavening process for bakery ingredients, extend shelf life of finished products such as tortillas, muffins, breads, sour sanded candies and more and to deliver finished goods with better texture. It is being used to overcome the typical flushing associated with Niacin intake. The technology also improves the delivery and bioavailability of nutraceutical compounds that are known to have therapeutic and disease-prevention effects. Microencapsulation has the potential to allow more benefits from less. With this technology there is no more need for overdosing.