Erythritol crystals may enhance flavor encapsulation: Firmenich

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cooking, Xylitol, Taste

Encapsulating flavors in erythritol crystals may offer food formulators a delivery system with unique performance characteristics, according to ongoing development from Firmenich.

Spraying of emulsified flavors with anhydrous erythritol led to encapsulated flavors with a very low melt viscosity and no need for drying, Matthew Sillick and Christopher Gregson from Firmenich, Inc. report in the journal LWT - Food Science and Technology​.

In addition, the crystals may offer alternative release mechanisms and performance compared to conventional systems.

Promising

Speaking with FoodNavigator-USA, Sillick said the technology has not been commercialized yet. “We are developing the technology and so far it appears promising,”​ he said. “It is patent pending.”

Firmenich is considering a range of food applications, added Sillick. “One specific goal is to enable the encapsulation and retention of highly volatile molecules.

“Such compounds are key components of flavors that could offer improved freshness or authenticity when used in powdered beverages, confections and/or savory mixes.”

Enhancing the portfolio

Ronald Skiff, associate director for Beverages, Innovation & Design, explained that one challenge facing most encapsulation technologies on the market today is the ability to encapsulate and retain highly volatile flavors at a high level.

“The use of erythritol may well prove to be a useful addition to our encapsulated delivery systems to further enhance them with unique flavor benefits,”​ he said.  

The company’s portfolio already contains a range of delivery systems, added Skiff, including Durarome (a cold water soluble flavor technology that provides long standing flavor stability), Flexarome (a process-resistant flavor system that offers taste authenticity and multi-sensory impact), and Thermarome (extreme temperature stability with sustained release within the mouth).

New developments

Sillick and Gregson investigated how a carrier composed of erythritol, an anhydrous sugar alcohol could control the release of liquid active ingredients, including flavors. This produced powders described as having “high bulk density and a free flowing character”​.

The encapsulation technique was very efficient, said the scientists, with about 90% inclusion in many cases.

In addition, the actives inside the erythritol carriers were protected during heating, even up to temperatures above 100°C.

The researchers have demonstrated an improved performance within a chewing gum application in their patent (Gregson & Sillick, 2011, Active ingredient delivery system​, WO/2011/077347​).

Next steps

Skiff and Sillick confirmed that research is ongoing to complete the development of the technology and assess its performance benefits in application.

“Once the performance benefits are proven, we would look to commercialize it.

“Controlled release applications may benefit from diverse delivery systems that offer a range of functional properties. Spray chilled crystalline carriers could become an additional asset within the food technologist’s toolbox,”​ they added.

Source: LWT - Food Science and Technology
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.lwt.2012.02.022
“Spray chill encapsulation of flavors within anhydrous erythritol crystals”
Authors: M. Sillick, C.M. Gregson

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