Use of innovative technologies for the production of functional foods/customized diets
The nanoencapsulation technique allows the functionalization of foods by improving the dispersion properties, the physico-chemical stabilization, the bioavailability and bioactivity of a wide range of bioactive compounds that, for their characteristics, would be difficult to incorporate in foods.
The bioactive compounds, the benefits of which can improve with nanoencapsulation, are for example the polyphenols, flavonoids, carotenoids, fat-soluble vitamins, unsaturated fatty acids and essential oils.
Functionalization of foods by nanometric delivery systems.
Principle of operation
The bioactive compounds are encapsulated into nanometric delivery systems through the following stages:
- Formation of a thermodynamically stable polymeric or lipid phase containing the bioactive compound
- Nanometric dispersion of that phase into an aqueous phase, by the use of emulsifiers and of a system with high energy intensity
- Eventual consolidation and stabilization of the nanocapsules.
The nanocapsules can then be used in the functionalization of foods.
The know-how of ProdAl concerns the engineering of encapsulation systems at the nanoscale, such as nanoemulsions, biopolymeric and lipid nanoparticles, for the delivery of bioactive molecules, with nutraceutical, antimicrobial or aromatic properties.
In particular, the expertise of ProdAl can be summarized in:
- Formulation of the nanocapsules through the only use of natural ingredients such as lecithin, vegetable and animal proteins, polysaccharides and biopolymers.
- Production by high pressure homogenization.
- Characterization of the chemical and physical stability during accelerated shelf life.
- Characterization of transport properties through biological membranes and bioavailability.
Measurement of the antioxidant or antimicrobial activity.
Technological benchmark vs state of the art
While in the U.S. there are many research groups, both industrial and academic, who devote themselves to the study of nanoscale delivery systems for the functionalization of foods, in Europe there isn't a deepened research, resulting in a limitation even in industrial applications.
At the moment, the bioactive compounds in the nanoencapsulated form are mainly used for the functionalization of fruit juices, beverages and dairy products.
The key features of the technology proposed by ProdAl are:
- Exclusive use of food-grade ingredients
- Method of production with high productivity and low operating costs, suitable for the food industry.
A further distinctive feature of this technology is the availability at ProdAl of different proprietary and patent-pending nanoencapsulation solutions.
- Possibility of nanoencapsulation of a wide range of bioactive compounds for the functionalization of foods
- High chemical and physical stability of the nanocapsules
- Promotion of the bioactivity through the improvement of transport properties through biological membranes
- Use of food-grade and GRAS ingredients
- Manufacturing system with high productivity and low operating costs.
- Need for specific plants with high cost.
- Need to develop specific formulations depending on the bioactive compound to be encapsulated and the food to be functionalized.
Stage of development of ProdAl
The technology is at the stage of pre-competitive development. The prototyping and the subsequent industry technology transfer requires time and modest investments.
ProdAl has developed its know-how on engineering and production of most appropriate delivery systems depending on the characteristics of bioactive compounds to be encapsulated and foods to be functionalized.
It is, therefore, able to offer assistance in the development of new functional products, with encapsulated bioactive compounds able to ensure the improvement of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic, antimicrobial properties, without the need to use synthetic additives but only natural ingredients.
Manufacturing companies of ingredients and food companies.
Forme di collaborazione
- Agreements for the prototyping and the market launch of new functional products, with a view to partnership in the production (relative to the nanocapsules).
- Consulting for the evaluation of the quality and physico-chemical and microbiological shelf life of new functional products.