The Canadian company has been using the patented technology in its Meg-3 ingredient for a while, but it has recently bestowed the Powder-loc brand upon it. The method has enabled it to put difficult health ingredients such as fish oil into foods without the taste or smell of fish.
The nutritional benefits of omega-3 fatty acids have been known for years, and sales of omega-3 in the dietary supplement market have been growing exponentially.
The inclusion of omega-3 in food has proved trickier however. While consumers recognise the nutritional value of the physiologically essential omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) from fish oil, the taste of this ingredient has never been something that consumers have taken to.
In addition, the inclusion of omega-3 oils directly into foods can also cause off flavours because all forms of omega-3 fatty acids are prone to oxidation.
Food and ingredient companies have therefore spent millions researching technologies that could enable the inclusion of omega-3 fatty acids into foods without any adverse effects. ONC is not alone in settling on microencapsulation - that is, tiny particles that contain an active agent or core material surrounded by a shell or coating. Indeed, microencapsulation is increasingly being used in the preparation of other food ingredients, too.
However most technologies use a single shell to encapsulate the oil, which ONC claims can break and expose the oils during food processing. It sought to overcome this through a process involving the encapsulation of the oil in a gelatin matrix with double shell protection.
"Powder-loc is a superior technology because the oil is protected within a multi-shell inner matrix and a protective outer shell surrounding it," said the company. "Powder-loc creates double protection for the oil from both oxidation and the stress of food processing. It can withstand high temperatures even during pasteurisation."
In addition, the company claims that Powder-loc has double the nutritional density of competitive technologies because of the loading capacity of the double shell matrix.
Powder-loc has contributed to the successful commercialisation of seven different food types with the MEG-3 food ingredient. These include: breads, milk, yoghurt, tortillas, orange juice, nutrition bars, and confectionery products. The branded food ingredient has now been marketed in twelve countries.
"We feel it is important for our customers to know that there is a difference in our microencapsulation technology so we created the Powder-loc brand to tell them that MEG-3 food ingredients are protected with a patented double shell," said Ian Lucas, executive vice president of global marketing at Ocean Nutrition.