What does product quality mean for infant formula powders?
Two aspects of infant formula quality are in focus, one is food safety and the second is nutritional properties. As a process engineering company, we can help to improve both aspects by the correct and careful design of the process equipment as well as securing a flawless production capacity. Further, there are more quality points to consider such as solubility, flowability and bulk density of the powder which can all be controlled in the drying process by choosing the correct design for the dryer as well as the setting of the drying parameters for the various type of recipes.
Normally the process is divided into wet phase handling and dry phase handling. The reason for doing this has to do with the water activity left in the product. As long as there is water in the product (liquid phase), the zone is considered a medium-high care zone, when the water is removed from the product the powder is now final and will no longer receive any heat treatment, meaning that this area is now high care, and there should be no water in this zone. Water creates the possibility for bacterial growth and bacterial growth in infant formula powder is under no circumstances acceptable. Another reason to keep the water content in the powder low is to prolong the shelf life of the powder. Just a few percentages of more or less moisture in the powder can give a significant difference.
How can the process equipment manufacturer help to ensure the high quality of the infant formula powder?
Once the overall process line has been decided, more details about the design and configuration of the infant formula plant must take place. The design of the heat treatment, evaporation and drying process will secure the quality of the final powder. The heat treatment process prior to evaporation and/or drying process is essential for securing the control of bacteriological growth during the processing and will also improve the shelf life of the product. The evaporation process shall be done gently in order not to damage the nutritional values of the product and the drying process will ensure the final powder qualities such as solubility and powder bulk density corresponding to the spoon measures of the product.
The overall control and automation system will control the process automatically and at the same time, it will be able to secure the traceability of the raw materials.