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Nestlé files flax omega-3 cereal fortification patent

By Kacey Culliney , 26-Sep-2013
Last updated the 26-Sep-2013 at 18:24 GMT

Nestlé said use of omega-3s from flaxseed was 'advantageous' because its more easily digestible
Nestlé said use of omega-3s from flaxseed was 'advantageous' because its more easily digestible

Nestlé claims to have overcome disadvantages in omega-3 fortification of breakfast cereals by using fatty acids derived from flaxseed and incorporating antioxidants for shelf-life.

The cereal major's commercial research subsidiary Nestec S.A. has filed a patent for its process to fortify extruded breakfast cereals and clusters with alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) derived from flaxseed.

Nestlé acknowledged that its competitor Kellogg had also filed a patent on omega-3 fortification of breakfast cereals, but said there was a need to overcome disadvantages presented by its process. 

In the filing it claimed Kellogg’s choice of omega-3 – derived from algae – could face reluctance from consumers and added that an algae source of omega-3s can be expensive, and handling on an industrial scale difficult.

Nestlé said in its patent filing that its use of ALA derived from comminuted flaxseed – crushed or ground – or flaxseed extract, was “advantageous” because it is more easily digestible.

It said golden, brown or mixed flax could be used and should represent 20-45% of the weight of each cereal piece. “Preferably, the flaxseed component provides a content of from 4g to 8g of alpha-linolenic acid per 100g of cereal pieces,” it wrote.

Two processes, different cereal formats

In one suggestion Nestlé said the flaxseed component could be coated onto the extruded cereal – flake, gun-puffed, rolled or baked – along with a fat component and antioxidant.

It said the coating should represent significantly more of the overall weight of the end cereal product – from 50-75% in weight. Within that, the flaxseed component should represent 30-33% by weight.

In its other example, it said cereal clusters could be fortified by using the flaxseed component as a binder to mix directly with the cereal.

Nestlé advised that the cereal clusters should have a water content of between 1.5-6.5% by weight. “Below 1.5% by weight of moisture in the clusters, rancidity develops too fast. Above 6.5% by weight of moisture in the clusters, the cereal piece is too soft and loses texture and flavour,” it said.

Antioxidant and packaging to improve shelf-life

In Nestlé’s patent it was suggested that an antioxidant, such as galates, vitamin E, flavonoids, carotenoids, ascorbic acid among others, should be included in the formulation to improve the shelf-life.

It recommended that the antioxidant component represent 0.1-0.5% of the cereal weight.

The packaging is also used to enhance the shelf-life of the breakfast cereal – a hermetically sealed packaging under a modified atmosphere. “This prevents or reduces oxidation of the cereal product as long as the package remains closed,” Nestlé wrote.

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