Microencapsulation as an innovative tool to enhance the functions and properties of bioactive ingredients
Microencapsulation is a smart way to improve the properties of bioactives in terms of structuration/functionalization (e.g., converting oil into powder form, taste and odour masking, improving the flow properties of a powder, visual aspect and marketing), immobilization of volatile compounds, protection/stabilization against adverse environmental factors (e.g. during food processing and shelf life) and controlled or delayed release on the action site. This technology is applicable to a broad spectrum of compounds, from small active molecules (e.g. vitamins, minerals, flavours, oils) to bigger ones (e.g. biopolymers, enzymes, proteins) and even microorganisms. The processes involved, the formulations used, and the final physico-chemical properties of the microparticles can be fine-tuned to fulfil the industrial requirements in terms of quality, volume, and cost.
Since the last world war, i.e. more than 70 years ago, we attended a revolution of which many of us underestimated the importance. The improvement of the agricultural production methods has led to an abundance of food in our occidental countries like mankind has never known before. Despite the criticisms made regarding the extensive use of agrochemicals, we can live now without wondering how to survive next winter. Our fridge is full!
The high performances of agriculture allow us to consider and include sustainable development today, even if it leads to reduction of the productivity. To reach this objective, encapsulation may bring some solutions such as slow fertilizer release (1), copper replacement by microencapsulated natural biocontrol agents (2), and inoculation of soil by immobilized rhizobacteria (3). Microencapsulation is also one efficient way to insure good practice in livestock farming by supplementing feed with vitamins or antibiotic alternatives (4).
This food abundance is associated to a diversification of the foodstuffs. Some products, considered a few decades ago as luxury, find now their place in our almost ...