By Sharon Nowak
According to both the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) as well as the World Health Organization (WHO), probiotics are defined as “live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host”. These food supplements help to improve the intestinal microbial balance within any host, whether it be pets, livestock or human beings. Global use of probiotics has steadily increased over the last 10 years, mainly in dairy products such as yogurts and yogurt beverages. However, even more recently, the introduction of probiotics in a powdered microencapsulated form for nondairy foods such as infant formulas, health food bars, breakfast cereals, snack foods, dry pet foods, and even chocolate has become commonplace in the food and petfood marketplaces. This growing trend in the use of probiotics can be attributed to the increased media exposure emphasizing that intestinal balance is critical to obesity management, cancer prevention, as well as improved overall immune system health.
Due to the delicate nature of the probiotic organism, the introduction of probiotics to the food processing or packaging stages requires special attention. The probiotic must be treated carefully during all stages of food processing to ensure that the probiotic viability is not affected and the overall efficacy is maintained. K-ron loss-in-weight (LIW) feeders and sanitary vacuum conveying systems are used in the highly accurate introduction of probiotic powders to continuous mixers, as well as for the contained transfer and LIW batching to the final packaging container.