Powdered infant formula is the most widespread and established alternative to the breastfeeding of the newborn. Despite preservation steps during production illnesses caused by contaminated formula as a result of Salmonella spp., Cronobacter sakazakii have been reported, which can often lead to brain damage or death in babies and infants. The use of extremely high temperatures during sterilisation can cause a great degree of protein denaturation. Considering the naturally lower content of lysozyme and lactoferrin of cow’s milk, which is the base of infant formulation, these ingredients have to be added at a cost to match more closely human milk, and are severely denatured by excessive heat treatment. As such, there is a need to provide manufacturers with a reliable treatment method that is effective in the inactivation of microorganisms and does not diminish the nutritional quality of the formula.
Past research has shown the effectiveness of light technologies for surface decontamination in packaging, for treatment of transparent and non-transparent beverages, and for the decontamination of vegetative microorganisms. Moreover, the combination of different light technologies can enable short exposure times. Researchers have successfully applied light technology to reduce the bacterial load in infant formula spread on a flat surface. This project will develop a novel system for the reduction of microbial contamination of infant formula by using a more gentle temperature processing based on 2 types of light in combination with a fluidised bed system. The system will be safe, effective, affordable, energy efficient, and environmentally friendly. By preventing the use of excessive temperatures, the risk of protein denaturation will be reduced. Moreover, by combining the light technology with the mixing and transport of fluidised beds, longer shelf life and a reduction in infant formula related illnesses can be achieved.
Fields of science
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Funding SchemeBSG-SME - Research for SMEs