In today’s fast-moving world, ready-to-consume products like food and drinks are gaining more popularity. From instant noodles to instant coffee, every product now has to offer convenience in one way or the other. The biggest hurdle in this path has always been the preservatives that are added to keep these instant products homogenous. At least that was the case until recently, thanks to the incorporation of lecithin.
Different types of lecithin are suitable for different varieties of instant food products including milk powder, soups, flavoured drinks, and sauces.
A question that has been popping up in our emails a lot, is how lecithin improves the production of milk powder?
The answer to this one is a bit more complex and requires some understanding of the different chemical compounds and how they react when mixed together. We have tried to explain it as best as we could by breaking everything down. Let’s start:
The main characteristics of a high-quality powdered product are that it should be easily dissolvable and shouldn’t form any clumps in the solvent like milk, water, or oil. This solubility is accomplished with the help of sprayable or liquid lecithin.
Also, powdered milk must have high dispersibility as it increases the powder’s hydrophilic characteristics. For this, LECITEIN produces a special type of lecithin, called LECILEC™ 6550” sunflower lecithin liquid which can make the powder more dispersible. Additionally, it also helps in meeting the customer-demanded texture and consistency resulting in production growth.
China is known to be the biggest market for instant milk powder. As such, they have specific standards for accepting or rejecting any lecithin that may or may not be incorporated among food ingredients around the world. Their approval committee is known for rejecting any and all chemically modified lecithin to be used in milk powders.
The reason why enzymatically hydrated lecithin was approved is that it improves several properties of fat-based powders like powdered milk or cream. Furthermore, it increases the sinking, wettability, and also homogenous distribution of the product acting as a robust emulsifier.
It is ideal for all kinds of milk powders ranging from whole milk to skim milk as well as coffee creamers and hot chocolates. With LECILEC™ 6550” lecithin, the milk powder manufacturers have become more focused on the production without worrying about the quality. Moreover, LECITEIN produces specific types of lecithin for specific instant products suiting the customer's demand and supply needs and ships their products globally.
Some statistics show that among instant products, milk powder production is reflecting massive growth. Most of these products are also exported to different regions around the world, making it mandatory to meet international regulatory standards.
All the popular manufacturers of milk powders around the world have special criteria that need to be satisfied. In case of any loss in quality, multiple penalties can be imposed including a production ban.
All this simply means that manufacturers had to find a way to increase the production of powdered milk, without compromising on the quality or needlessly increasing their production costs. Hence, they looked at lecithin and here's how it helped improve the milk powder production:
The primary element of improving productivity is to increase the dispersibility of the milk powder. The factors that affect the dispersibility of any product are the flowing ratio, time taken to convert a liquid to powdered form, dissolving ability of a powder, and change in a solvent. As lecithin is an emulsifying agent, it can increase the wettability of powdered products by reducing their hardness.
According to the Japanese Ministry of health, from 2014, if milk powder has lecithin incorporated as one of the ingredients, then it is the proof of its quality. Being a non-GMO product and extracted from natural seeds including soybean and sunflower, it is completely organic making it ideal for food industry usage.
The lecithin added to the milk powder in Europe is certified through identity-preserved or IP programs, which are entirely up to Kosher and Halal standards.
For better production, it’s important that the product goes through homogeneous distribution. Sprayable liquid lecithin is used here as it helps the lecithin distribute evenly onto the powder. When the final powder is ready to be sprayed, it is done through a Lecithin-oil solution, and as for times when both lecithination and agglomeration are required simultaneously, lecithin-water-dispersion is used.
Some of the factors that influence homogenous distribution include but are not limited to:
Phosphatidylcholine (PC) and Phosphatidylserine (PS) are two functional ingredients that can be developed through Lecithin.
Phosphatidylcholine (PC) plays an important role in the functions of the liver, and its deficiency can cause problems such as fatty liver or abnormal liver functions. Besides protection against alcohol cirrhosis, PC can also help decrease the risk of more fatal conditions such as heart attacks. This is done by improving the LDL/HDL quotient and decreasing cholesterol levels in the blood.
On the other hand, Phosphatidylserine (PS) is also important for several bodily functions, especially the brain. Regulating cell activities, receptor activities, ion channels, enzymes, and signalling molecules are some of such processes. In some instances, PS might also be used for treating Alzheimer's disease or improving thinking skills. However, there is a significant lack of scientific evidence in these cases.
To conclude, lecithin can be referred to as a lifting agent when it comes to instant food production, especially powdered milk. There are some core factors which can easily be achieved through the use of the right type of lecithin to enhance the quality.
It has also improved the application characteristics of instant milk powders by making them easily dissolvable, have better consistency, and be more durable. If all the health standard requirements and customer demands are met, milk powder manufacturers can focus their resources on increasing production, resulting in significant revenue growth.