Process Analytic Technology for moisture and composition of infant formula

Powdered Infant Formula (PIF) is a milk-like food intended to supplement or replace the milk of the baby’s mother. The quality, nutritional profile and safety of PIF are intrinsic for the health and wellbeing of the babies and infants that depend on it for their survival and growth. Since most infant formulae are required to be instant, the preferred drying approach is typically designed to allow for product agglomeration during drying.

The agglomeration improves reconstitution properties. It is important that the degree of agglomeration and its compactness can be controlled. The identified key physical parameters governing the agglomeration process include granule size/shape and the key chemical parameters include moisture content. Properties of individual agglomerates determine bulk powder properties such as powder flowability, bulk density and solubility. These are important product quality characteristics since, for example, the product is measured out on a volume basis (in scoops) whereas nutritional requirements are provided on a mass basis. Thus any changes in particle properties post-drying, during conveying and packaging will have implications. For dry blending, the ingredient distribution within granules and between granules has a critical effect on content uniformity, nutrient absorption rates and ultimately infant safety.

The development of a hybrid technology that is capable of assessing the physical and nutritional characteristics of PIF in real time would significantly advance process control leading to greater product quality, process validation, and ultimately infant safety. In response, the PURE-FORMULA project will develop a novel Process Analytic Technology capable of providing spatial measurements of moisture and ingredient identity from the forming PIF agglomerates. The R&D effort will centre on prototype engineering design, software/algorithm design, user interface design, integration and validation within PIF manufacturing equipment.

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NIR Chemical Monitoring