Baby talk: the formula for success.
The global market for infant formula is thriving. Growing numbers of working mothers, coupled with rising birth rates in some European countries, have led to a heightened demand for high quality formulae and ready-made baby food. Although breast milk is still considered the ideal, hectic lifestyles and the consequent need for convenience have led many parents to recognize infant formula as a valuable and complementary part of their baby's diet.
However, increased media interest in health and nutritional issues have made today's consumers more informed than ever. In turn, increasingly cautious purchase behaviour means the bar has been raised for the infant nutrition sector. Specifically, public concerns regarding the safety of infant formula have put manufacturers under pressure to refine production methods to meet stringent standards. Producers of infant nutrition products should carefully select only those ingredients that meet their high safety requirements. Furthermore, they must ensure that in their pursuit of microbiological purity, they also choose ingredients that do not compromise end-product quality. Ultra-Sperse IMF can help on both counts.
Pluses for Parents
Derived from waxy maize, this high performance starch benefits from a neutral, milky taste. As a result, Ultra-Sperse IMF can be added to infant formula without affecting existing flavours or eating enjoyment. By effectively aiding viscosity, the ingredient imparts a smooth, consistent texture. In addition, its excellent dispersion qualities ensure that infant formula dissolves quickly without lumping. This instant starch also reduces the clogging effect for easier bottle-feeding. Babies often spit their formula out during feeding, which can reduce their nutrient intake. Ultra-Sperse IMF has an antiregurgitation (AR) effect that helps to counteract this. When it reaches the low pH of the stomach, formula containing Ultra-Sperse IMF thickens, making regurgitation less likely. This not only keeps the baby feeling full for longer, but creates less inconvenience for parents.
Safe, Safer, Safest
In 2005, following the discovery of a potentially harmful bacterium, Enterobacter sakazakii, in infant formula, the European Community introduced Regulation (EC) 2073/200 to govern the microbiological criteria for foodstuffs. (Regulation [EC] No. 2073/2005 concerning microbiological criteria for foodstuffs came into force on 1 January 2006.) It stipulated that infant formula must meet the highest safety standards, more stringent than those relating to everyday foods. Reassuringly, many manufacturers then enforced their own, even stricter rulings on hygiene and safety testing to minimize the risk of contamination.
To ensure that it exceeds manufacturers' high standards, Ultra-Sperse IMF is produced under the strictest of conditions. Employing the latest technology, National Starch Food Innovation has put in place a comprehensive series of measures to prevent contamination of the product. Pharmaceutical conditions are scrupulously maintained at all stages of the manufacturing process and, as a result, Ultra-Sperse IMF is supplied to customers with a guaranteed absence of Enterobacter sakazakii per 333 grammes.
Manufacturing Made Easier
Instant starch not only provides the requisite thickening and texturizing attributes for infant formula but, importantly, manufacturers are also assured of batch to batch consistency and enhanced process and shelf-life stability. In contrast to standard drum-dried starches, Ultra-Sperse IMF maintains its granular integrity to offer optimal performance in the most demanding of processing conditions.
To stay ahead of changing regulations and remain competitive in the infant nutrition market, manufacturers must ensure that the ingredients they use are multifunctional and, most importantly, safe. By demanding the superior standards of innovation, quality and usability, they can produce products of the highest calibre that surpass both legal requirements and consumer expectations.
Ensuring the nutritional quality of infant food is naturally a top priority for manufacturers. But, guaranteeing the food's safety when it actually hits the shelves is also a key concern. The discovery of a contaminant in a jar of baby food could have potentially catastrophic consequences for a child's health, and for a company's reputation and its future sales. Avoiding product contamination is therefore essential. A large proportion of infant foods are supplied in glass jars. However, foreign body detection in this type of container is particularly challenging because of the varying thickness of the glass walls and base--as much as 20% in some cases. Infant food manufacturers therefore require inspection systems that provide complete and reliable detection of products within glass jars. Mettler-Toledo Safeline X-ray has introduced a new detection system for monitoring high-risk products, such as baby foods in jars. The company is confident that it offers the greatest probability of detection (POD) of any machine on the market today. The GlassCheK Quad ensures the complete detection of foreign bodies such as glass, metal, plastic and rubber in glass containers. It works by simultaneously scanning with one vertical and three horizontal x-ray beams to maximize coverage and the probability of contaminant detection within the jar by reducing blind spots in the base, sidewalls and neck.
The GlassCheK Quad is particularly effective for wide neck jars and offers superior detection on shards of glass, as the four beams cover many possible orientations of placement. The system's software plots the individual dimensions of every jar that passes through and can detect contaminants in the product as well as possible inclusions in the glass jar itself. Optimal detection sensitivity is also maintained throughout, even when the GlassCheK Quad is operating at speeds of up to 1000 jars per minute. It has a user friendly, intuitive interface that means product menus on the GlassCheK Quad can be set up or adjusted by line operators, without the involvement of an engineer, so minimizing downtime. In addition, it can measure product fill level in a jar and an optional barcode reader facilitates automatic product changeover for increased throughput. A unique, variable speed scanning capability means the machine's speed can be changed according to the customer's line speed--so no manual resetting is required. The GlassCheK Quad complies with strict industry hygiene standards and is easy to clean and maintain. A sign-in and event log system--an industry first- -can record all activity (hourly quality tests for example) on a database. This provides full traceability of any changes made and identifies the user who made them. The machines use only minimal power and users of the GlassCheK Quad can also benefit from its small footprint, which allows easy integration into existing product lines. For more information on Mettler-Toledo Safeline, visit www.mt.com/safeline-xray or www.mt.com/metaldetection.
For more information
Dr Karin Meissner
Business Development Manager
Clinical and Infant Nutrition
National Starch Food Innovation
Prestbury Court, Greencourts Business Park
333 Styal Road, Manchester M22 5LW, UK.
Tel. +44 161 435 3200