Infant Formula Production
– How to achieve the right powder
Several aspects must be taken into consideration when designing a new infant formula production line. When dealing with process plants for the baby food industry, safety and reliability is the most important focus point for a process plant supplier.
Normally an “Infant Formula Process” consists of several processing units, depending on which raw products are available. The recipe is the producers’ knowledge and “design” but typically the composition of an infant formula is fat, proteins and carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, in ratios acc. to the human breast milk. There will also be differences in the recipes based on the child’s age as well as any allergy reservations.
The powder processing line can be designed in three different ways. The design of the process plant units is based on the process manufactures knowledge and experience.
The below diagrams illustrates three different approaches for producing infant formula powders.
Infant formula powder production
1. The dry mix is based on powders only where all powders are blended according to the formulations of the particular recipe.
2. The powder is dissolved in water and mixed to a dry matter of approx. 48% before the solution is heat treated and spray dried.
3. All ingredients are mixed in a solution up to approx. 32% dry matter before heat treatment and evaporation.
Whether to choose one processing line against the other, must be determined based upon the actual situation and products available. However, below are a series of pro’s and con’s towards the three types of process lines.
Pro’s and con’s about the various processes
What does product quality mean for infant formula powders?
Two aspects of infant formula quality are in focus, one is food safety and the second is nutritional properties. As a process engineering company we can help to improve both aspects by the correct and careful design of the process equipment as well as securing a flawless production capacity. Further there are more quality points to consider such as solubility, flow ability and bulk density of the powder which can all be controlled in the drying process by choosing the correct design for the dryer as well as setting of the drying parameters for the various type of recipes.
Normally the process is divided into a wet phase handling and a dry phase handling. The reason for doing this has to do with the water activity left in the product. As long as there is water in the product (liquid phase), the zone is considered medium high care zone, when the water is removed from the product the powder is now final and will no longer receive any heat treatment, meaning that this area is now high care, and there should be no water in this zone. Water creates possibility for bacterial growth and bacterial growth in infant formula powder is under no circumstances acceptable. Another reason to keep the water content in the powder low is to prolong the shelf life of the powder. Just a few percentage more or less moisture in the powder can give a significant difference.
How can the process equipment manufacturer help to ensure the high quality of the infant formula powder?
Once the overall process line has been decided, more details about design and configuration of the infant formula plant must take place. The design of the heat treatment, evaporation and drying process will secure the quality of the final powder. The heat treatment process prior to evaporation and/or drying process is essential for securing the control of bacteriological growth during the processing and will also improve the shelf life of the product. The evaporation process shall be done gently in order not to damage the nutritional values of the product and the drying process will ensure the final powder qualities such as solubility and powder bulk density corresponding to the spoon measures of the product.
The overall control and automation system will control the process automatically and at the same time it will be able to secure the traceability of the raw materials.
Many other aspects of the infant formula powders can be discussed and described, and SiccaDania shall be glad to support our customers with our many years of experience within evaporation and drying applications. SiccaDania can design and manufacture a processing plant which will give the highest quality and nutritionally safe infant formula powder. .