Critical Points in Infant Formula Manufacturing


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Critical Points in Infant Formula Manufacturing


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Infant formula is a healthy alternative for babies, it provides the crucial nutrients they need to grow and thrive. Infant formulas contain various vitamins, protein, calories, fat, and minerals for growth. Hence, quality control is crucial in every step of the production process to have safe infant food products on the markets.  And it’s not just quality control alone, for ensuring the avoidance of health problems, we at Titus Health Tech, one of the largest private label infant formula manufacturers in India, embrace quality beyond classical in-process parameters and a final microbiological analysis. 

Over recent decades, infant nutrition food manufacturers like us have added ingredients to infant formulas not only to better simulate the composition of human milk but also to impart health benefits. For example, adding iron to formulations, adding nucleotides, and modifying the composition of fat blends. This article will cover the critical points of manufacturing infant formula and infant formula quality control systems.

Infant Formula Processing

A whole production line for creating infant formula has numerous phases, and the type of components, their quality, and their application must all be considered in the highest regard.

Most infant milk food manufacturers follow the wet-mixing for producing powdered baby milk, and it consists of three basic stages: mix preparation, evaporation, UHT Treatment and drying. The liquid is hydrated and ready for evaporation when the ingredients are mixed (adding milk protein). The spray drying is then followed by the homogenised concentrated milk combination. Each stage necessitates meticulous planning to assure the highest level of quality and food safety, as well as the plant’s efficiency, flexibility, and reliability.

  • Mixing

Mixing is the first and most important step in making infant formula. The quality of the mixing process has a significant impact on the final product, where the solids and liquids are blended and proper dispersion is critical. A vacuum mixer is recommended for optimum quality and cleanliness.

A closed vacuum mixer has numerous production advantages, including shorter mixing time, increased energy efficiency, reduced waste, and ease of maintenance; but, for the sake of this article, let’s focus on the quality and safety issues it addresses.

The powder is sucked in from a closed powder hopper or bag system during vacuum mixing. The powder is washed out directly into the circulating liquid below the liquid surface using the vacuum level in the tank, ensuring that no dust is spilled into the surrounding atmosphere. The process’s wet and dry phases are thus totally separated, lowering the likelihood of bacterium development. A vacuum seal prevents air from entering the mixture, preventing oxidation, nutritional degradation, and discoloration. The high shear pump is situated on the side of the mixer, providing additional ergonomic benefits such as simple access and a safe maintenance environment.

Titus Health Tech has a trusted infant milk formula private label – TRIOMIL, a product line for different age groups including Low Birth Weight formula and Lactose free formula which is produced by procuring specific grade milk powder and by following all quality controls.

  • Evaporation

The evaporation stage, which is an energy-efficient way of increasing total solids in the formula, is the next major step in the infant formula manufacturing process. Evaporators work by heating a solution to the point where liquids evaporate and separate out. The type of evaporator chosen is determined by the cost of energy in the area. Mechanical vapour recompression evaporators compress the vapour using a mechanical compressor or fan and require a large amount of electricity. Thermal vapor recompression systems compress vapor with steam jets and require a constant supply of steam. Nutrition powder manufacturers must consider the cost of choosing an evaporator for a given plant by comparing the cost of steam vs the cost of energy.

The temperature of the evaporator is proportional to the evaporation pressure. The system’s parameters are tweaked to optimum product concentration, quality, and energy efficiency. Some infant nutrition products manufacturers choose to use two evaporators, allowing for continuous production while one line is cleaned and the other is in use, allowing for production 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

By removing occluded air from the fluid, an evaporator minimizes the amount of energy required for spray drying while also extending the shelf life of the final product.

  • Treatment with ultra-high-temperature

For the manufacturing of infant formula, heat treatment technology is employed because it ensures food safety and nutritional quality. Preheating to 75 to 85 degrees Celsius using plate and tube heat exchangers, followed by quick superheating to roughly 140 degrees Celsius using steam infusion, is a moderate method of heat treatment. The product is dispersed into a chamber in the form of thin threads and is heated quickly by direct steam.

A short, precise holding period of 0.1 to 0.5 seconds prevents damage to vital amino acids, proteins, and vitamins, which can lead to nutritional degradation, unwanted flavour changes, and the development of burnt particles. The high temperature kills even heat-resistant bacterium spores with a remarkable kill rate.

Cavitation is an option and is used by many nutritional products manufacturers. Controlled cavitation is generated by a rotor with machined cavities spinning in a liquid chamber. The procedure improves spray drying efficiency by lowering fluid viscosity and allowing for a higher solids content, as well as providing microstructural conditioning to improve particle structure, size, and distribution of solid components.

Homogenization and High-Pressure Pumping in One. Homogenizers are not difficult pieces of equipment to design and use, but they do take the ability and knowledge to do so correctly. Homogenization aids in the regulation of final product quality, particularly the quantities of free fat that affect infant formula stability. Homogenizers deliver the product to the spray dryer through a high-pressure pump.

  • Spray Drying

A spray dryer is used extensively in the later processing stages of baby formula by all baby food manufacturers. This step is critical to the final product’s quality because it allows for comprehensive control over features like density, moisture content, powder qualities, and sensory elements. Because there will be no further heat treatment, it is critical that no product contamination occurs. For that purpose, HEPA filters are used in the dryer’s air supply, and the systems are designed to be simple to clean, reducing the possibility of cross-contamination and ensuring food safety.

An internal fluid bed is included in a spray dryer. This helps to produce robust powder agglomerates before entering the external fluid bed, which dries and cools the formula further before packing. This effective chilling of powder aids in the preservation of quality throughout storage.

In the drying stages of the process, both internal and external fluid beds self-empty. This decreases powder loss in the system, minimizes contamination during product changeover, and guarantees powder is out of the system for a more effective clean cycle.

During spray drying, the very fine powder and air are fed to cyclones for separation. A fines return device that can return powder fines to numerous stages in the process is installed, further boosting agglomeration.

The drying of infant formula powders also poses an explosive risk, necessitating the use of extensive safety equipment to protect the plant and people. A spray dryer’s design includes bursting chambers, vent ducts, firefighting systems, carbon monoxide monitoring systems, and suppression systems.

  • Systems for automation

Automation is another crucial component of a baby formula processing line. These modern systems used by us for all nutritional supplement manufacturing that not only provide reliability and save running costs, but they also bring flexibility, traceability, help with quality control, and improve the system’s overall operational safety. To keep the system functioning reliably and consistently, we have full integration with enterprise resource planning systems that evaluate performance and offers real-time data to monitor product quality and the need for preventive maintenance.

Conclusion

Many process phases are involved in the manufacturing of powder-based nutrition, all of which require careful integration and design to provide the desired product quality and food safety. We at Titus Health Tech are in a close working relationship between processing companies and technology providers that has helped yield the best results—offering efficiency, consistent quality, and assured food safety at every stage of the processing line—to ensure all KPIs are met and high consumer confidence in our product brand is maintained. To maintain and regulate the intended features of the infant formula, each stage of the process necessitates a thorough understanding of the technology and its internal impact. Infant milk food manufacturers do not have to sacrifice manufacturing efficiency or flexibility in order to meet the highest safety and quality standards. Systems are developed to meet today’s and tomorrow’s needs, including enhanced powder nutrition for all life phases. Food safety and plant safety features and functions are integrated into the plant throughout the manufacturing stages, and contemporary automation systems help protect and control our entire process.


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