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Content archived on 2024-05-29

Novel flow focusing technology to produce microencapsulated probiotic bacteria for the food sector

Final Report Summary - FLOCAP (Novel flow focusing technology to produce microencapsulated probiotic bacteria for the food sector)

The ultimate aim of the FLOCAP project was to enhance the effectiveness of probiotic food products through the development of an innovative microencapsulation process which would preserve the functional bacteria added to those food systems. The bacteria would be protected from the manufacturing process, the storage conditions and even from the adverse environment of the stomach by an adequate polymer coating which would allow them to reach consumers intestine with the necessary viability levels for delivering the intended beneficial effects.

The FLOCAP partners would develop a device for the microencapsulation of bacteria based on the innovative flow focusing technology which works at very gentle conditions and can ensure high bacteria survival rates while achieving very small particle size. This technology relies on physics and fluid mechanics and it uses a combination of mechanical and electrical methods. This system, and in particular the special nozzle to be designed for this application, would represent a major breakthrough for the probiotic food sector.

The overall FLOCAP industrial objectives were the following:
- to develop a microencapsulation technology with gentle operation conditions which would ensure a high survival rate of bacteria after the microencapsulation process;
- to develop bacteria microcapsules which effectively protect bacteria during the manufacturing process and during the passage to the intestine, by an adequate polymer coating. Intestine control releasing would be achieved and demonstrated.
- to achieve microcapsules size small enough (less than 30 micrometres) to be directly added into a great range of food products, turning them into functional probiotic products without changing their initial textural characteristics. This would allow the production of new variety of probiotic food products.
- to ensure homogeneity of the microcapsules size with negligible deviation, thus making their direct use easier and avoiding potential texture problems yielding very small sizes.
- to make the scale-up of microparticles production feasible for industrial applications at low cost.

The overall FLOCAP social objectives were the following:
- to develop probiotic food to be used to prevent diseases and to promote the well-being;
- to increase the variety of functional products, thus making probiotics available for more consumers and to improve their health.