Author Archives: rebeccadifabbio

Preparing to Use a Premix

Without ingredients, it is pretty obvious that our daily food products would be nothing, as would our health if it wasn’t for essential vitamins and minerals incorporated into these products.  The decision to use premixes to add to food products may be the best and easiest method to reaching the desired nutrition label.

There are several factors one must consider before deciding on a premix, however.  The sources in which the ingredients come from and the familiarity of these ingredients are very important.  The amount of space the ingredients take up should be considered as well as if they are visually appealing and taste good.  The ingredients must be known to be either stable or non-stable and how they will interact with other ingredients.  Also, all of the options should be known as far as the form of the ingredients desired such as an oil, trituration, or powder.

Inventory management should be researched.  As far as volume goes, they may be smaller than bulk ingredients.  Shelf life is accounted for to ensure fresh products at all times and customized to the use of each product.  Incoming testing should be conducted as well as scaling and dispensing methods should be known.

Homogeneity of low use ingredients is of high value, as it is important for any ingredients used in small amounts to be evenly dispersed throughout a mix.  The easiest example to use for homogeneity is Vitamin B12.  The daily value for Vitamin B12 is only six micrograms, so for every serving it is an extremely small amount.  In order to distribute B12 evenly throughout a mixture to become completely homogeneous the options are to either blend it or make it into a trituration.  With blending, particles of Vitamin B12 are mixed in to the mixture of ingredients.  For triturations, the vitamin is sprayed on to carriers that allow for a higher distribution throughout the mix.

The provider of a premix should also have formulation expertise.  They should demonstrate knowledge in daily values and recommended daily intakes for label claims and know the sources of ingredients and their functionalities.  It is essential for them to know the interactions of ingredients and be comfortable with the regulations for the products, especially in different countries.  There are also some limitations between marketing and production that may arise, and being able to bridge that gap is crucial.  Forming solutions to reach the needs of everyone is a benefit for successful business.

A premix can offer single ingredient benefits.  There would only be one set of documentation for supplier approval which would be easier to manage.  There would be increased homogeneity with the use of triturations.  Incoming testing is a main focus as well.  With every step of processing, testing is conducted to ensure the quality and correct forms of the ingredients.  Concerning inventory management, we have all ingredients on the floor at all times, so we are always prepared for any order.  Every order is always customized.  Even if the nutrition labels are identical for two products, the ingredients could still be different due to what the product is being used for, the desired shelf life, and other requirements that are relevant.

When using a premix, it is important to know what ingredients are available to your premix supplier as well.  They must be familiar with the components of the premix and have formed a positive relationship with their ingredient suppliers.  If ingredients are being sent from overseas, their quality systems or processing may be different.  With constantly increasing and decreasing prices, suppliers may run out of ingredients, which is why they should have dual sourcing.  It would be unfortunate if a product is ready to be launched and the premix is missing.  To avoid this conflict, suppliers must have at least two sources to obtain ingredients.  Their inventory turnover reflects how fresh the products are and should be known.  If ingredients are not in stock for a premix supplier, they must be familiar with the market and have purchasing power for quality products.  If they have the proper relationships established this should not be an issue.

Further processing is something to consider when making a decision to use a premix.  Some processing of the ingredients are either performed internally or already completed at the purchase.  Some mixes can be blends or triturations, as was mentioned earlier with Vitamin B12.  Encapsulation is another option which involves either spray drying or fluid bed processing.  The manipulation of particle size is crucial regarding factors such as mouth feel, solubility, and homogeneity.

The styles of blending equipment may behave differently as well as the sizes available that may affect the premixes.  The ability to scale samples of premixes is important to test small portions of a mix and then produce the same mix is mass quantities.  Lot sizing should also a Certificate of Analysis for the premixes.

The data in the Certificate of Analysis should relate to audits, calculations, lots, reports, and be reviewed by the analyst with a signature.  The premix supplier must understand where modifications are appropriate, have every modification validated, and available to you.

Quality is a value to any food and dietary supplement company employee.  Any supplier should be approved and internal documentation should be understood and completed.  Internal documentation may refer to HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points), food risk, and analytical work.  Any change in the industry must also be recorded and handled appropriately to ensure the highest quality ingredients.  The quality systems of the premix supplier would be beneficial if it was aligned with yours.  As far as raw materials, the suppliers, approvals, and incoming testing should be documented, performed, and understood.

A number of quality systems in the plant should be in place such as those under the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI): British Retail Consortium (BRC), Safe Quality Foods (SQF), Food Safety System Certification 22000 (FSSC), and International Featured Standards (IFS).  HACCP plans should be in place along with allergen controls and foreign material controls.  With dietary supplements, raw material testing and finished good testing are important to be performed.

A strong Quality Assurance team must be established.  They must all be familiar with regulations and independent of the production staff.  They should also have audits for production in addition to Critical Control Points (CCP).  The laboratory should conduct internal and external testing and perform qualified methods appropriate for the premix.  It is important that they can share these methods and prove their validation.  Proper equipment is necessary and testing that is aligned correctly.  The trained staff must provide in process and finished goods in the highest quality.  With testing, active components need to be understood as well as the physical parameters of the ingredients such as bulk density, flow, particle size, and moisture.  Microbiological, heavy metal, and other contaminants may be required.

The Quality Control team, just as the Quality Assurance team, should be knowledgeable and trained.  They should be familiar and proficient in various testing and stand as a positive resource for the customer and third party laboratories.

In the labs, all employees should have formulation expertise.  They should be fully aware and be familiar with the products, processes, and regulations.  The blend and preblend design may affect the premix and the lab should know how powders may affect the premix.  Homogeneity is carefully focused on, especially when using powders.

Overall, choosing a premix supplier requires a significant amount of research.  With the right decision, a valued long term relationship can be formed and a product can be launched with greater ease and trust that it will be successful.  There would always be access to all of the resources and market trends can be easily shared.  Conflicts can be solved and the team bond between the customer and supplier can yield an accomplished business.



Vitamin K: Watching out for Your Bones and Heart

“Drink your milk, it’s good for your bones!” is what most children are constantly reminded of by their parents.  While calcium and vitamin D in milk are understood to support bone and heart health, there may be one nutrient overlooked.

Vitamin K is essential for a variety of bodily processes.  Vitamin K1 is made by plants, retained in the liver and synthesizes clotting factors.  Vitamin K2 functions easiest in longer chained forms given that they have longer half-lives and remain in circulation for a longer period of time.  These vitamin K molecules are commonly referred to as menaquinones and are found in lipoproteins which set into circulation.  They allow for calcium homeostasis and transport.

Osteocalcin is a calcium-binding protein in the blood that takes calcium from the blood to the bone matrix.  Matrix Gla is another calcium-binding blood protein that is activated by vitamin K.  The USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University concluded from studies that 50% of osteocalcin is uncarboxylated, or inactivated, because of a deficiency in vitamin K.  In result of this, calcium deposits may form in the blood.

Vitamin K2 has been known to decrease one’s chance of heart disease.  Erasmus Medical Center in a Rotterdam study proves that with a higher level of menaquinones, fewer deaths occur from heart disease and circulation conditions.  Vitamin K2 is involved with osteoporosis as well, according to an Emory University study.  Menaquinones facilitate pro-anabolic and anti-catabolic effects on bone cells and suppress the molecule responsible for controlling the inflammatory process.

Calcium and vitamin D play an important role in the functioning of vitamin K.  Vitamin D allows calcium absorption.  In turn, vitamin K can then be transported from the blood to the bone tissue.  When vitamin D is activated, osteocalcin is regulated for transporting calcium.

Vitamin K1 is mostly found in leafy green vegetables whereas menaquinones are in organ meats, egg yolks, and dairy products.  Adults should consume about 90 milligrams of vitamin K per day.  A deficiency in vitamin K can be brought on by the use of antibiotics for a significant period of time.

While parents may be correct in urging their children to drink their milk for calcium and vitamin D, they must be aware of other nutrients that are essential for proper heart and bone health.

Don’t Wait to Lose Weight

Countless diets, worn out gym memberships, and junk food stashed in the corner of the kitchen cabinet shooting tempting glares are what many Americans can relate to today.  Diet plans only offer bland meal options, life becomes too chaotic for workouts, and the junk food that was supposed to be thrown out is kept for that daily splurge.  Losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is not an easy feat but it is a challenge that can be made a reality with motivation, perseverance, and the desire to accomplish a life-changing event that can most positively affect one’s life forever.

The Numbers
From 2009 to 2010:

  • Over 35% of adults in the United States were obese
  • Nearly 17% of children and adolescents in the United States were obese
  • More than 78 million adults and more than 12 million children and adolescents in the United States were obese

From 1999 to 2010:

  • The percentage of obese men increased by 8%
  • The percentage of obese women increased by 2.1%
  • The percentage of obese boys increased by 4.6%
  • The percentage of obese girls increased by 1.2%

Know Your Nutrients
Vitamins and minerals, as well as other nutrient groups, are vital for a healthy body.  Eating is the method of supplying the body with the nutrients and energy that is needed to function properly.  It is important to be educated on what nutrients can assist in reaching that golden number on the scale:
Vitamin D:  helps the body react to insulin and allows the cells to use glucose for energy; a deficiency in vitamin D prevents fat from being burned.
Calcium: works with vitamin D to burn fat and the more that is stored in cells, the more fat that is burned.
Protein: maintains body composition for proper fat to muscle proportions and preserves muscle mass with vitamin D and calcium.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: enables the enzyme to burn fat in cells and prevents the overeating mechanism in the brain.
Monounsaturated Fatty Acids: maintains blood sugar and appetite.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid: strong fat burners in dairy products that allow blood glucose to enter cells and are burned to produce energy.
Polyphenols: antioxidants that increase metabolism, allow for fat burning, and reduce hunger and cravings.
Iron: allows red blood cells to transport oxygen to the body; vitamin C assists in the absorption of iron.
Choline: an essential nutrient that is water soluble and improves brain, liver, and cardiovascular health as well as increases mental concentration.
L-Carnitine: reduces fat mass and increases muscle mass, reduces fatigue, and acts as an antioxidant.
Leucine: an essential amino acid that allows for the loss of fat and maintains lean muscle when exercising.
Fiber: provides a satisfying feeling after meals, prevents constipation, involved in the digestion processes, and may treat diabetes, heart disease, and diverticulosis.

Stop Dieting
Losing weight and keeping it off is possible through a healthy lifestyle.  Although there are numerous diets that provide balanced meals, low-calorie recipes, and suggested grocery lists, dieters often do not follow the structured diet plan for life.  This oftentimes results in weight gain after months or even years of working hard to lose just that.
In order to effectively remain at a comfortable and healthy weight, a healthy lifestyle must be adopted.  Structured diet plans rarely work long-term.  Learning to make smart food choices on a daily basis and discovering ways to make eating fun and healthy make eating right easy.  Providing the right nutrients for your body and being healthy should not be such an arduous task.  Anyone can do it!

Let’s Eat!
Many may fall into the trap of tricking themselves into thinking, “This is healthy, it has vegetables in it!”, but what are you truly eating?  That “healthy” vegetable-stuffed omelet more than likely is oozing with full-fat cheese, cooked with greasy oils, and has too many eggs.  The side of carrots served with dinner is drowning in butter.  The chicken tenders ordered at your favorite restaurant are deep fried.  Instead, use low-fat cheese, cook with non-stick cooking spray, and cut down on the eggs for your omelets.  Use salt and pepper or low-calorie butter brands to add flavor to vegetables at dinner.  Order grilled chicken instead of chicken that has been fried.  There are many delicious alternatives to the most famous fatty and caloric meals that are easy and will blast that weight off!

Work Out Your Workout
Developing an active lifestyle is another element of leading a complete healthy life.  The combination of eating right and staying fit is the key to success.  Exercising can be anything from a daily walk, a jog, a bike ride, or hiking, to weight lifting, aerobics, and training for triathlons.  Working out should be something enjoyable and should not feel like a chore.  Choose an activity that fits into your schedule and one that you look forward to every day.