What are Fortified Foods?
Fortified and functional foods are packaged foods and beverages that have been enhanced with additional health components and/or nutrients in order to provide a nutritional benefit. Examples include probiotics and omega-3 oils added to yoghurt and milk, and antioxidant rich breads, cereals and beverages. Fortification is the addition of certain bioactive or functional ingredients to food products that don’t occur naturally in the food to enhance their nutritional and therapeutic value, allowing consumers to improve their nutrition without having to alter their eating habits.
Fortification was historically used to prevent malnutrition. However, it is more commonly used today to improve wellbeing and general health, thereby adding value to a manufacturer’s products. Supplements are often taken by a consumer to boost the necessary nutrients but inclusion into food products is a smart alternative in that it is more cost effective to fortify the food rather than purchase an oral supplement. The nutrients most often included are iron, zinc and B vitamins: folic acid, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6. These vitamins and minerals have been shown to support life-long health. Several prevent anaemia, and folic acid reduces the risk of birth defects of the brain and spine.
Different age groups and lifestyles have different nutritional requirements, so it is important to know who the target consumer is before developing a concept. For example, children need iron, calcium, vitamin A and vitamin D for optimal growth and development, but many kids do not get enough of these, so they are great candidates for fortification into foods kids eat frequently. Imagine mitigating the issue of iron deficiency by inexpensive fortified food such as chewing gums which are commonly consumed by children. By adding ferrous sulphate and/or sodium iron the biochemical profile of school-going children could be easily enhanced. See research using a Texture Analyser (PDF download).
Bakery, snacks and dairy products are also excellent candidates for fortification and therefore the most common fields in the food industry to offer this additional value.
Texture problems associated with Fortified Foods
The shift to more health-conscious food purchases has never been more apparent as consumers are seeking out products that support immunity, better sleep, reduced stress and an enhanced nutritional boost. Manufacturers are keen to adapt to consumer trends when formulating new products or reformulating existing products. However when modifying a product formula by the addition of new ingredients more often than not there is a compromise to the taste or texture of the product. A consumer is unlikely to accept a product that has an expected sensory experience for one that is tougher, firmer, drier or has textural deterioration causing a reduced shelf life.
When you modify food to have health benefits texture analysis is a mandatory stage in the Research and Development of fortified products. If texture can be altered by the addition of different quantities of ingredients it must be measured after each iteration of ingredient or process modification so that the finished enhanced product matches up to the consumer’s textural expectations.
How Texture Analysis can help in Fortified Food development
Stable Micro Systems manufactures instruments that measure the tensile and compressional properties of raw ingredients, individual materials and finished products. It is important to measure the textural properties of food to ensure they match the expectations of a consumer. As with any manufacturing innovation the end-product must go through a quality control process to assess its mechanical (and sensorial) properties. A Texture Analyser is a crucial part of this procedure, giving a reliable way to test products by applying a choice of compression, tension, extrusion, adhesion, bending or cutting tests to measure their physical or textural properties e.g. firmness, stickiness, crispiness and springiness, to name but a few.
A range of Texture Analysers are available varying in maximum force capacity and height options suited to the requirements of the application.
A vast range of probes and fixtures can be attached to the instruments depending upon the product/material to be tested. Whether it’s an Ottawa cell used to compare cereal crispness, a bending test used to assess biscuit fracturability or a back extrusion employed to assess the potential change of the fortified formulation in yoghurt consistency. Click to view a wide range of textural properties and measurement solutions that are most suited to fortification for bakery, snacks, or dairy product testing.
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Examples of how Texture Analysers have been applied
There have been countless publications of research into the use of fortification using Texture Analysers, in both academic and industrial settings. Some examples of the most recent research are listed below.
Fortification research in the bakery and snack industries
Fortification research in the dairy industry
Whilst food developers continue to search for effective solutions that will help create better quality fortified products that will meet the needs of the affected individuals, such innovations and ingredient additions require a benchmark in order to compare the effect of any formulation changes. This is where a Texture Analyser is the perfect tool to employ.