Tuesday, February 28, 2012: 02:21:56 PM

Food Processing Trend

Spray Drying: An evolving process in food processing

Important component of processing industry playing a crucial role in the dairy sector

A very common practice in the food processing industry is spray drying that helps convert liquid material into powders for preservation, easier storage and more convenient handling. An important component of the food processing sector is the flavour industry and spray drying is one of the most important aspects in this sector.

The conversion of liquid solutions and suspensions directly into powders involves exposing the substance to direct heat in short residence time. The process broadly consists of four main stages- atomisation, air contact, evaporation and product recovery.
Conversion to fine drops is an important step in drying. Conversion to fine drops of the suspensions and liquid solutions is done by using their rotary, pressure nozzle and pneumatic two fluid atomizing device.
Being one of the safest and most efficient ways of manufacturing powders from liquid solutions and suspensions and being heavily used in the flavouring industry, spray drying has evolved over the years from being a rather crude physical form of food processing to an advanced science that helps enhance shelf life and quality of processed foods.
Expert view
According to Dr V H Potty, renowned food technologist and chairman of Diversified Food Technologies (India), Mysore, “Spray drying, a popular technology being adopted by food industry, especially dairy products industry, is based on concentration of the liquid products to optimum solid levels followed by spraying the intermediate product into a hot chamber where incoming hot air carries the moisture off while the resultant dry powder settles down at the bottom of the chamber to be drawn off. The concentration step, mostly under vacuum does cause some damage to the bio-chemically active or thermally sensitive constituents. Though contact with hot air in the spray drying chamber is for a small duration, here again some damage to the end product does take place. Most of the milk powder preparations and instant coffee are manufactured by spray drying. New innovative efforts have enabled the industry to dry highly hygroscopic and heat sensitive materials using carriers for aiding the drying operation, preserve the product from moisture ingress and prevent loss of volatile principles. Cost wise water evaporation through spray drying is much less expensive compared to freeze drying and hence it is universally adopted.”
In this context, Divya Sanglikar, corporate nutritionist at Healthji, a leading health portal, said, “Spray drying is an important processing technique today and involves very little or no other chemicals. This makes it a rather safe technique.”
In a country where processing has been identified as one of the most important solutions to the issue of food security, development of processing techniques such as spray drying is crucial. The concept is likely to become more advanced with time and gain acceptance among consumers. It is one of the most important processes in the dairy industry and is used in the production of milk and whey powders, coffee creamers, cheese powder, dehydrated yeast extract, instant coffee and tea, isolated soybean protein, enzymes, maltodextrin, egg powder and many other products in powder forms.
Tias Chakraborty

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