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Despite the many advances in food manufacturing, the process of dispersing powders in liquids remains a challenge. Without proper dispersion, powders like food gums form lumps which can cause production issues, including:

  • Clogging pumps and filters, resulting in production slow downs
  • Hydrating incompletely, possibly leading to quality variations between batches and increasing the need to rework out of spec product

Several techniques have been employed over the years in an effort to reduce lumping, including slurrying the gum with oil and preblending the dry ingredients before addition to the mixing tank but these production techniques have shown mixed results. However, manufacturers see nearly immediate and dramatic process improvements when they switch from powdered gums to agglomerated gums.

This episode of our Basics of Food Gums video series explores the benefits of using agglomerated gums.

Videos in the Basics of Food Gums Series

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In this episode, we’re going to delve into the science behind the uses of food gums and the innovations that have proven to be most beneficial. If you missed any of our previous videos explaining the different categories of food gums, we encourage you to click the link in the description here or simply follow the link on the screen to check them out. Click here to watch other videos in the series

Hydrocolloids are critical in food product development because they provide texture and stabilization. If you’ve ever used hydrocolloids in a manufacturing process though, you might’ve come across a situation where mixing the gum into the tank resulted in less than desirable dispersion and hydration. This is simply the nature of some hydrocolloids when they are added to water but given enough time the gum will completely dissolve into the mixture. But of course this delay has an effect on the manufacturing process that’s too significant to ignore so this issue had to be quickly addressed.

Common food gums chart

Agglomeration has become a critical innovation for these issues not only because of its effect on proper dispersion and hydration but moreover because of the time that it saves. In some cases you’ll find issues like slow dispersion, lengthened hydration times, and dusting that hinder the manufacturing process. The slow dispersion of some hydrocolloids can cause what’s known as “fish-eyes” or “lumping”. Hydrocolloid particles swell once they are hydrated and in doing so can produce pockets of unhydrated material that are surrounded by a layer of hydrated material causing a lump. To combat this, several traditional workarounds have been used like oil slurries or dry mixing which both strive to create separation between the particles before reaching the tank. However, this adds additional steps to the process which decreases production efficiencies. Not only that, but improperly hydrated gums can tend to gel the mixture of ingredients so that they block the pipes through which they are pumped. Considering all these issues it became apparent that a solution was needed.

Agglomeration is the most effective way to address all of these concerns at once. In basic terms, you can imagine agglomeration as a way of pre-hydrating the gum; in effect, by-passing the stage where the gum lumps together. This is done by systematically introducing water to the gums while under controlled agitation. The gum gradually absorbs the water during this process and then is dried. Then, when the gum is added to the tank later on during the final mixing of ingredients, it more quickly disperses into the mixture avoiding the issues of lumping and slow hydration. This replaces any need for oil slurries or dry mixes creating greater efficiency in the manufacturing process. Another issue that this innovation addresses is dusting. Dusting is a significant problem because not only does it create a cloud that’s irritating to work in but it also leaves a residue on the floor that can quickly become a safety issue. With all of the issues that agglomeration addresses, it’s easy to see how it relieves a number of headaches involved with the manufacturing process.

Hopefully we were able to give you a better understanding of agglomeration and the significant value it brings to food product manufacturing. Hydrocolloids are indispensable ingredients and this innovative technology makes it much easier to implement them into more efficient manufacturing processes.

If you’re interested in learning more about this or other innovative hydrocolloid technology, please contact one of our Gum Gurus to find a solution for you. Thanks for watching.

Talk with a Gum Guru to see if a switch to agglomerated gums is right for your application.

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How To Disperse Gums In Water