Without ingredients, it is pretty obvious that our daily food products would be nothing, as would our health if it wasn’t for essential vitamins and minerals incorporated into these products. The decision to use premixes to add to food products may be the best and easiest method to reaching the desired nutrition label.
However, there are several factors one must consider before deciding on a premix. The sources in which the ingredients come from and the familiarity of these ingredients are very important. The amount of space the ingredients take up should be considered, as well as if they are visually appealing and taste good. The ingredients must be known to be either stable or non-stable and how they will interact with other ingredients. Also, all of the options should be known as far as the form of the ingredients desired such as an oil, trituration, or powder.
Inventory management should be researched. As far as volume goes, they may be smaller than bulk ingredients. Shelf life is accounted for to ensure fresh products at all times and customized to the use of each product. Incoming testing should be conducted as well as scaling and dispensing methods should be known.
Homogeneity of low use ingredients is of high value, as it is important for any ingredients used in small amounts to be evenly dispersed throughout a mix. The easiest example to use for homogeneity is Vitamin B12. The daily value for Vitamin B12 is only six micrograms, so for every serving it is an extremely small amount. In order to distribute B12 evenly throughout a mixture to become completely homogeneous the options are to either blend it or make it into a trituration. With blending, particles of Vitamin B12 are mixed in to the mixture of ingredients. For triturations, the vitamin is sprayed on to carriers that allow for a higher distribution throughout the mix.
The provider of a premix should also have formulation expertise. They should demonstrate knowledge in daily values and recommended daily intakes for label claims, and they should also know the sources of ingredients and their functionalities. It is essential for them to know the interactions of ingredients and be comfortable with the regulations for the products, especially in different countries. There are also some limitations between marketing and production that may arise, and being able to bridge that gap is crucial. Forming solutions to reach the needs of everyone is a benefit for successful business.
A premix can offer single ingredient benefits. There would only be one set of documentation for supplier approval which would be easier to manage. There would be increased homogeneity with the use of triturations. Incoming testing is a main focus as well. With every step of processing, testing is conducted to ensure the quality and correct forms of the ingredients. Concerning inventory management, we have all ingredients on the floor at all times, so we are always prepared for any order. Every order is always customized. Even if the nutrition labels are identical for two products, the ingredients could still be different due to what the product is being used for, the desired shelf life, and other requirements that are relevant.
When using a premix, it is important to know what ingredients are available to your premix supplier as well. They must be familiar with the components of the premix and have formed a positive relationship with their ingredient suppliers. If ingredients are being sent from overseas, their quality systems or processing may be different. With constantly increasing and decreasing prices, suppliers may run out of ingredients, which is why they should have dual sourcing. It would be unfortunate if a product is ready to be launched and the premix is missing. To avoid this conflict, suppliers must have at least two sources to obtain ingredients. Their inventory turnover reflects how fresh the products are and should be known. If ingredients are not in stock for a premix supplier, they must be familiar with the market and have purchasing power for quality products. If they have the proper relationships established this should not be an issue.
Further processing is something to consider when making a decision to use a premix. Some processing of the ingredients are either performed internally or already completed at the purchase. Some mixes can be blends or triturations, as was mentioned earlier with Vitamin B12. Encapsulation is another option which involves either spray drying or fluid bed processing. The manipulation of particle size is crucial regarding factors such as mouth feel, solubility, and homogeneity.
The styles of blending equipment may behave differently as well as the sizes available that may affect the premixes. The ability to scale samples of premixes is important to test small portions of a mix and then produce the same mix is mass quantities. Lot sizing should also a Certificate of Analysis for the premixes.
The data in the Certificate of Analysis should relate to audits, calculations, lots, reports, and be reviewed by the analyst with a signature. The premix supplier must understand where modifications are appropriate, have every modification validated, and available to you.
Quality is a value to any food and dietary supplement company employee. Any supplier should be approved and internal documentation should be understood and completed. Internal documentation may refer to HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points), food risk, and analytical work. Any change in the industry must also be recorded and handled appropriately to ensure the highest quality ingredients. The quality systems of the premix supplier would be beneficial if it was aligned with yours. As far as raw materials, the suppliers, approvals, and incoming testing should be documented, performed, and understood.
A number of quality systems in the plant should be in place such as those under the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI): British Retail Consortium (BRC), Safe Quality Foods (SQF), Food Safety System Certification 22000 (FSSC), and International Featured Standards (IFS). HACCP plans should be in place along with allergen controls and foreign material controls. With dietary supplements, raw material testing and finished good testing are important to be performed.
A strong Quality Assurance team must be established. They must all be familiar with regulations and independent of the production staff. They should also have audits for production in addition to Critical Control Points (CCP). The laboratory should conduct internal and external testing and perform qualified methods appropriate for the premix. It is important that they can share these methods and prove their validation. Proper equipment is necessary and testing that is aligned correctly. The trained staff must provide in process and finished goods in the highest quality. With testing, active components need to be understood as well as the physical parameters of the ingredients such as bulk density, flow, particle size, and moisture. Microbiological, heavy metal, and other contaminants may be required.
The Quality Control team, just as the Quality Assurance team, should be knowledgeable and trained. They should be familiar and proficient in various testing and stand as a positive resource for the customer and third party laboratories.
In the labs, all employees should have formulation expertise. They should be fully aware and be familiar with the products, processes, and regulations. The blend and preblend design may affect the premix and the lab should know how powders may affect the premix. Homogeneity is carefully focused on, especially when using powders.
Overall, choosing a premix supplier requires a significant amount of research. With the right decision, a valued long term relationship can be formed and a product can be launched with greater ease and trust that it will be successful. There would always be access to all of the resources and market trends can be easily shared. Conflicts can be solved and the team bond between the customer and supplier can yield an accomplished business.