Bacteria play a critical role in the gut: they help with the digestion and absorption of food and help to keep the colonization of pathogenic (harmful) micro-organisms to a minimum. And although the microbiome in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract remains relatively stable, it can be both positively and negatively influenced by diet and the use of drugs such as antibiotics.
In recent years, studies have shown that these bacteria form part of a bidirectional system referred to as the brain-gut axis, by which the brain and gut jointly contribute to the maintenance of an organism’s health. As such, changes to the gut microbiome can affect the body’s autoimmune system and cause GI, metabolic and even brain disorders.
Maintaining a balance between “good” and “bad” bacteria has become increasingly well recognized as being fundamental to wellness. The theory behind the potential benefit of probiotics, now defined as “live micro-organisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host,” dates back to the beginning of the 20th century.
Russian biologist Elie Metchnikoff suggested that aging was in part caused by toxic bacteria in the gut and that it would be possible to prolong life by replacing those harmful microbes with benign ones found in lactic acid. He isolated Bacillus bulgaricus and promoted its use as a therapy to maintain homeostasis and prevent aging, thereby popularizing yogurt, which formed the foundation for probiotics.
A century later, a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that you can treat and even prevent a number of illnesses with probiotic-enhanced foods and supplements. Beyond gut health, applications now range from urinary well-being, allergy prevention, oral health, reducing inflammation and boosting the immune system, to name just a few.
There is, of course, debate regarding the dozens of available strains, whether some are more effective than others and whether they are better used in combination. Furthermore, the bacteria can only be effective if they are alive. As the awareness of probiotics increases, consumer demand is swelling. The result is that probiotics are no longer confined to dairy products and capsule-based supplements. But, their survival in food is a complicated issue involving — amongst other things — the chemical composition of the product they are added to (including its acidity and oxygen content) and the storage conditions of the product (humidity, temperature).
Producing MFCs needs gentle handling in hygienic and cool conditions. It’s also crucial to avoid cross-contamination between different batches. GEA helps customers to meet these requirements with cutting-edge separation, fermentation, heat exchange, cooling, drying and refrigeration technology.
GEA has a range of steam sterilizable separators that can process cultures reliably and efficiently. The CFE 300 steam-sterilized centrifuge is the largest of its kind in the world, with a production capacity of 10,000 –20,000 L an hour. It is fitted with a pressured housing to prevent the escape of bacteria or living cells. GEA culture separators allow the running of automatic clean-in-place (CIP) and sterilization-in-place (SIP) processes to prevent the cross-contamination of different products. They are also designed to discharge the concentrate at the bowl head so that the separated cells are exposed to lower shearing forces than in conventional equipment.
For the fermentation stage, GEA provides a comprehensive range of liquid processing components, especially designed to handle these sensitive bacteria strains under consistent sterile conditions. The fermenters typically handle batch volumes from 100– 100,000 L. Using GEA process equipment, the fermented product is either freeze or spray dried under sterile conditions using lenient drying temperatures to ensure maximum survival rates.
GEA manufactures and supplies market-leading heat exchangers and cooling technology for a wide range of applications, including the thermal treatment of probiotic products. Equipment includes heat exchangers, air coolers for cold cabinets and storage rooms and air-cooled condensers for refrigeration and air conditioning. GEA designs, engineers, installs and maintains innovative freezing and chilling equipment used throughout the food industry.
Separator CFE processes Cultures Reliably and Efficiently
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