How is baby formula made?
Baby formula substitutes the mother's milk and it belongs to the dairy substitute class. There exists three types of baby formula: milk based formula, non-milk based formula and vegetable fat based formula.
The non-milk based formula is designed to avoid the potential allergies to formulas based on cow's milk.
The three types of formulas can be found in three states: powder, liquid concentrate and ready to use. Although the powder and the liquid concentrate are cheaper, they are prone to contamination because they need to be mixed with water to be prepared. The ready to use formula is expensive but safe since it has the right amount of nutrients and the contamination danger is avoided.
The raw material used in formulas depends on the type of formula, but they can be as follows: proteins (either animal, or vegetable), fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, stabilizers, diluent.
The manufacturing process of ready to use milk based formula consists of 6 steps: ingredients mixing, pasteurization, homogenization, standardization, packaging, sterilization.
Baby formula is an artificial form made from different breast milk substitutes. But it should be used only when needed severely, as no artificial milk can take place of breast milk. No baby formula can be said as substitute for breast milk.
There are three main categories in which baby formula milk is divided, as follows:-
- Soy Based formula (containing vegetable and/or milk components). Some infants have a sensitivity, allergy, or potential allergy to formula based entirely on cow's milk. Formula made with vegetable derived milk or a limited amount of cow's milk derived components may be more suitable for these children. Most vegetable derived formulas are soybean based.
- Cows milk based formula (containing milk components such as casein or whey protein). These formulas typically start with cow milk as a base since most infants have no problem ingesting cow's milk. This type of formula is fortified with extra nutritional elements.
Protein hydrosylate formula (containing no milk components at all). There are expensive, specialty formulas for infants who have a strong sensitivity to both cow's and soy milk, or other medical or digestive conditions that are formula related.
Forms of baby formula
- Powdered formula
- Ready to use formula
- Concentrated Liquid Formula
Raw Materials used in baby formula:-
- Fats and Carbohydrates
- Emulsifiers/ Stablizers
The Manufacturing Process:-
The method of manufacture depends on the type of formula being made. The following steps describe a general procedure for a ready-to-feed, milk-based formula.
- 1 The primary ingredients are blended in large stainless steel tanks. The skim milk is added and adjusted to 140° F (60° C). Fats, oils and emulsifiers are added next. Additional heating and mixing may be required to yield the proper consistency. Minerals, vitamins, and stabilizing gums may be added at various points in the process depending on their sensitivity to heat. Once mixing is complete, the batch can be temporarily stored or transported via pipeline to pasteurization equipment.
- 2 Pasteurization is a process that protects against spoilage by eliminating bacteria, yeasts, and molds. Pasteurization involves quickly heating and cooling the product under controlled conditions which microorganisms cannot survive. A temperature of 185-201.2° F (85-94° C), held for about 30 seconds, is necessary to adequately reduce microorganisms and prepare the formula for filling. Several pasteurization methods are commercially available—one common method warms the formula by sending it through a tube adjacent to heat plate heat exchanger. Thus the formula is heated indirectly. Another method heats formula directly and then uses the heated liquid to preheat the rest of the incoming formula. The preheated formula is further heated with steam or hot water to the pasteurization temperature. After pasteurization is complete, the batch may be processed further by homogenization.
- 3 Homogenization is a process which increases emulsion uniformity and stability by reducing the size of the fat and oil particles in the formula. This process can be done with a variety of mixing equipment, which applies high shear to the product. This type of mixing breaks the fat and oil particles into very small droplets.
- 4 The resulting composition is standardized to ensure key parameters, such as pH, fat concentration, and vitamin and mineral are correct. If any of these materials are at insufficient levels the batch can be reworked to achieve the appropriate levels. The batch is then ready to be packaged.
- 5 Packaging process depends on the manufacturer and type of equipment employed, but in general, the liquid formula is filled into metal cans which have lids crimped into place. These can be filled on conventional liquid filling equipment commonly used in the food and beverage industry.
- 6 The filled packages can be subsequently heated and cooled to destroy any additional microorganisms. The finished cans are then packed in cartons and stored for shipping.
Quality of infant formula is ensured at three levels, which have some degree of overlap. First, in the United States, there are governmental standards, which establish the nutritional quality of infant formulas and other dairy substitutes. Specific details of these standards can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations; more information is available from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which regulates infant formula as a special diet food. The FDA publishes a monograph detailing everything from the mandated nutrient list to label copy and artwork used on packaging. Second, the dairy industry sets its own industry-wide quality control standards. The industry is self-policing and has its own regulatory organization, the International Dairy Federation, which sets industry standards for manufacturing and quality control. Third, individual companies set their own standards for quality control. For example Martek, one producer of triglycerides used in formula, has microbiologists and engineers monitor 30 different checkpoints of triglyceride production, 24 hours a day.