The research taps into an ever-growing trend for food manufacturers to use microencapsulation technologies as a way of achieving much-needed differentiation and enhancing product value. Tapping into key and emerging consumer trends with innovative techniques is becoming increasingly important for food manufacturers.
Microcapsules are tiny particles that contain an active agent or core material surrounded by a shell or coating, and are now increasingly being used in food ingredients preparation.
Writing in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers from Taipei's Fu Jen University and the Vedan Enterprise Corporation examined the potential of the gelatin-poly(-glutamic acid) (-PGA) combination as coating materials for lycopene encapsulation.
Lycopene from tomatoes was approved for use in foods as a colouring in 1997. This has meant that the ingredient can be listed on labels as E1161D, but that companies have not been able to flag up 'contains lycopene' to draw attention to its health benefits. Lycopene has been the subject of much recent research, including its potential to reduce risk of certain cancers and heart disease.
The lycopene was extracted from tomato waste using supercritical carbon dioxide, and then encapsulated using an emulsion system consisting of 4.5 per cent gelatin, 10 per cent PGA, and 4.8 per cent lycopene.
Thermal stability of the coating was found to be maintained up to temperatures of 120 decrees Celsius, with average particle size of 37.7 micrometres.
Lycopene encapsulation efficiency was 77 per cent, said the researchers, indicating a loss of only 23 per cent during the freeze-drying process.
"A fast release of lycopene in the powder occurred at pH 5.5 and 7.0, while no lycopene was released at pH 2.0 and 3.5," said the researchers.
The combination may offer interesting alternatives to the established favourites of milk proteins and gum Arabic for the encapsulation of functional food ingredients
Changing consumer trends and tastes are primarily responsible for driving innovation in the microencapsulation market, says market analyst Frost & Sullivan. Since food manufacturers constantly monitor such trends, food ingredients companies are always looking for ways to meet these ever-changing demands, thereby promoting the need for novel microencapsulation technologies.
Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Published on-line ahead of print, ASAP Article 10.1021/jf0700069 S0021-8561(07)00006-4
"Encapsulation of Lycopene Extract from Tomato Pulp Waste with Gelatin and Poly(-glutamic acid) as Carrier"
Authors: Y. T. Chiu, C. P. Chiu, J. T. Chien, G. H. Ho, J. Yang, and B. H. Chen