Drug-delivery mechanisms give culinary industry food for thought

There's a specialty within the food industry known as "functional foods," which foodnavigator.com defines as "food products fortified with micronutrients (such as vitamins and minerals), functional ingredients from natural sources (phytochemicals), or relatively novel combination of food ingredients, such as fiber added to soft drinks, fish oil added to bread, or human gut bacterial cultures added to dairy foods." And the field of functional foods has much to learn from from the drug delivery industry, the site reports.

A review by Unilever published in LWT - Food Science and Technology, says the industry faces a challenge in delivering ingredients without compromising the "structural or sensory characteristics of food products." The Unilever scientists say that colloidal drug delivery systems "can find a great deal of application in foods especially with the growing demand of functional foods."

Unilever's Ashok Patel mentions specifically "lipid and polymeric colloidal particles, liposomes, micelles and microemulsions for efficient delivery of drug molecules" as models to develop for the food industry, although the science, as it relates to functional foods, is still in its infancy.

Delivery mechanisms could perform the same function for foods as it does in the pharmaceutical industry--make some ingredients more soluble and permeable--thus, more bioaccessible, the Unilever authors say.

- read the article on foodnavigator.com
- and the abstract in LWT – Food Science and Technology

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