AnaBio developing pea-protein capsules for baby formula

Biotech start-up AnaBio Technologies is in advanced talks with leading global food companies about its low-cost pea protein capsules which can replace the expensive artificial materials that currently encapsulate the nutrients used in toddler formulas.
AnaBio developing pea-protein capsules for baby formula

Developed at its base in Teagasc Moorepark, AnaBio’s heat-resistant pea capsule gives far greater protection against heat to the proteins they encase — giving infant formula products a longer shelf life, and delivering greater stability to the proteins they contain.

Irish and international food companies are already discussing licensing deals with AnaBio, whose capsule is cheaper than the current artificial alternative.

Food manufacturers are keenly aware there is a huge impact on the viability of a probiotic when it is heat-treated.

AnaBio’s yellow peas coating can protect proteins against temperatures of 140C for 12 to 15 minutes, giving unprecedented stability for this key segment of food processing.

“This coating is proving to be very interesting from a commercial point of view, as you are also increasing the yield of the protein,” said AnaBio chief executive Sinead Doherty.

“You are getting a guaranteed delivery of protein, with minimal losses. The problem at the moment is that 50% of the proteins can be killed off. Our coating protects the protein, a bit like the way the casing on a chewing gum or a Smartie protects the flavour within.”

Operating in perhaps the most highly regulated sector of the food industry globally, infant formula producers are restricted in the materials they can use to coat proteins.

The AnaBio pea capsule has been validated in human trials. Ms Doherty is working with Eamon Curtin of the Ignite programme in UCC. AnaBio's researchers are based in the Dairy Innovation Centre at Teagasc Moorepark in Fermoy, Co Cork.

“I completed my PhD with Teagasc and have had great mentoring support from Ignite,” said Ms Doherty. “We have plans to bring this from concept through to commercialisation. We will bring the technology, validate the research, and scale it up for industry. Our industry partners will focus on the branding, marketing and commercialisation.”

The AnaBio pea coating also has taste and colour advantages. It produces capsules that are very transparent with no astringent taste.

While milk protein encapsulation can make infant formula look cloudy, the colour of the product remains unchanged when the pea coating is added.

As well as its work for the infant formula sector, the Cork-based company also delivers technologies and products for sports nutrition and drug delivery for humans and animals.

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Karen Walsh

Karen Walsh

Law of the Land

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