Product development is an important aspect, when it comes to growth of food industry. There is no chaos related to the fact that certain products have been being marketed since their inception and have almost remained unchanged for several decades. I can quote ‘n’ number of such categories of foods like pasteurized milk, table-butter, numerous varieties of cheese, Skimmed Milk Powder, etc. However, there are several ‘newly developed foods’ such as low-fat spreads, dairy desserts, UHT- treated flavored milk, ice cream novelties, etc. Previously being introduced in the market. The motive and inspiration behind new product development is mainly focused on expanding the market portfolio of the organization with the aim of business growth. There may several other reasons food manufacturers may turn to new innovative products. Notable innovations can be considered as convenient product, e.g. fat spreads, shortenings and products having extended shelf life. As you are well known to the fact that Change is Good, if it does not harm you. With the rise of emerging technologies and initiatives like “Eat Right India” Moment rolled by Food regulatory authority, FSSAI, consumers have become aware about the health consciousness, product related knowledge, brand value, market value and so on, Consumer demands, perceived, potential or real, is perhaps the most significant factor leading to new product development. ‘Health foods’ or ‘functional foods’ represent a really valuable group of products during this context.
Instant changes in life style has pros and cons as well and one of the major cons leads to the rise of incidence of life-style disorders viz., diabetes, obesity, coronary heart disease, etc. They have been the cardinal of development for new food products that can maneuver the needs of the particular consumer. Physiologically functional foods are growing faster in demand along with more and more consumer awareness about the relationship of food and well-being. Thus, increasing awareness among consumers to know which specific compounds and ingredients, present in their food possess disease preventive or curative properties and has led to the concept of functional foods which represent, in terms of their contents, far more than the traditional products’ compositional characteristics. Now the focus of scientific investigations has turned towards exploring the role of biologically active components on human health. Basic temptation in human being towards products that are natural, for every little disturbance related to health resulted in flourishing of market with products containing various therapeutic ingredients. Functional foods, pharma foods, designer foods and nutraceuticals are synonymous for foods which will prevent and treat diseases. Epidemiological studies and randomized clinical trials carried out in different parts of the world have demonstrated or at least suggested numerous health effects related to functional food consumption, such as reduction of cancer risk, improvement of heart health, enhancement of immune functions, lowering of menopause symptoms, improvement of gastrointestinal health, anti-inflammatory effects, reduction of blood pressure, antibacterial & antiviral activities, reduction of osteoporosis etc. Nutritional significance of milk is well documented and increasing cases of cancers, coronary heart diseases, osteoporosis and many other chronic diseases, have been attributed to our diet. But beyond these known nutrients i.e. vitamins, proteins, milk and milk constituents have clearly more to supply and scientists are scurrying to get exactly which milk components might debar specific diseases. An ever-expanding array of previously unknown such molecules with hard to pronounce names is being uncovered. But their exact metabolic role and how these can be utilized in designer food, need to be elucidated (A.A. Patel and A.K. Singh) Dairy Technology Division NDRI. All over world there has been growing demand for functional foods. Currently Japan leads the planet within the functional-food production, with production and consumption of quite 100 such products.
I. Functional Foods and Significance
The term “functional food” was first utilized in Japan, within the 1980s, for food products fortified with special constituents that possess advantageous physiological effects. Functional foods may improve the overall conditions of the body or decreases the danger of some diseases and will even be used for curing some illnesses. Although many scientific and regulatory bodies have already defined the term “functional food”, so far there is no universally accepted definition for this group of food. The general consensus seems to be emerging towards ‘Functional foods’ defined as “foods that, by virtue of the presence of physiologically active components, provide a health benefit beyond basic nutrition. In order for a food to qualify as a functional food, several things are to be kept in mind before trials, viz; It is a food (not capsule, tablet or powder) derived from naturally occurring ingredients, It should be consumed as part of daily diet and when ingested, it should serve to regulate a particular body process, such as Improvement of biological defense mechanisms Prevention and recovery of specific disease. In recent years, there has been a huge and rapidly growing body of scientific data showing that diet plays a crucial part in diseases. Diet is assumed to contribute to 6 of the ten leading causes of death. Nutrients and non-nutritive food components have been associated with the prevention and/or treatment of chronic diseases such as cancer, coronary heart disease (CHD), diabetes, hypertension, and osteoporosis. According to an estimate about 70% of certain cancers are directly related to the type of food we eat. As the data supporting the role of diet in health promotion and disease prevention continue to mount, it is likely that the quantity of enhanced foods will expand substantially. There is an increasing demand by consumers for quality of life, which is fueling the nutraceuticals revolution. Functional foods are viewed together option available for seeking cost-effective health care and improved health status. Moreover, the massive segment of the population is aging and considerable health care budget in most country is concentrated on treatment instead of prevention. Thus, the utilization of nutraceuticals in daily diets are often seen as means to scale back escalating health care costs which will contribute not only to a extended lifespan, but also more importantly to a longer health span.
II. Trends in functional foods and nutraceuticals
In India, functional foods market is estimated at $70 billion or 4% of processed foodstuff and is growing at threefold times the original pace. In developed markets, higher consumer awareness on health and wellness is being addressed through product innovations and marketing prowess of huge players. While the ageing population needs more engineered foods the younger population is demanding more fortified foods to urge extra energy. Health-related issues-obesity and coronary heart condition -are forcing food processors to launch campaigns to market low carbohydrate diets or other such foods. It is likely predicted that, functional foods will still retain the market (or grow) owing to growing health concerns. Regulations have ensured the segment’s organized growth. There are tons of products sold within the name of nutraceuticals within the Indian market. On the brink of around 100 products are even listed on the web alongside the worldwide companies and around 20 Indian companies have a record of manufacturing nutraceuticals and marketing them globally. India is comparatively a replacement market. The dimension of the Indian nutraceutical market is estimated to be about Rs 1,600 crore in 2001(Independent Survey). All major pharma players are within the process of entering this market. The extent of exports from India remains small, estimated to be perhaps but Rs 750 crore. The main markets for India are the US, Europe and Japan. India can become leader during this field as we hold key expertise also as we are rich with the biodiversity.
III. Milk based functional foods and nutraceuticals
Since the advancements in Food processing industry, dairy products are an essential part of human diet. Milk is that the sole food, which possesses the power to sustain life altogether the stages of development, and is taken under consideration an important a aspect of a diet. Besides being a source of quality proteins and energy–rich fat, it contains important micronutrients like calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium and vitamins, which are vital for overall development of the human body. Also, several health attributes are associated with milk or its constituents, just like the role of calcium in controlling hypertension and colonic anti carcinogenicity, protective roles of carotenoids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) against cancers. Butyric acid, the short chain acid of milk fat has been shown to manage cell growth and enhance the anti-tumour activities. Certain minor milk components either naturally occur or formed during processing have also been endowed with many unique health benefits. Examples include lacto ferrin, lactulose, galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), β- lacto globulin, and bioactive peptides. (Source NDRI, Report)
IV. Probiotic dairy foods
The basis for selection of probiotic micro-organisms include safety, functional aspects (survival, adherence, colonization, antimicrobial production, immune stimulation, antigen toxic activity and prevention of pathogens) and technological details such as growth in milk and other food base, sensory properties, stability, phage resistance and viability. Newer avenues as carriers of probiotic organisms are being sought. Fermented milk being a ‘live’ food is potentially an excellent vehicle for these beneficial microbial cultures. Recognizing the beneficial properties of probiotic organisms and challenged with the possibility that these organisms may produce end products that may be different from those produced by the normal starters in these products; several attempts have been made to manufacture probiotic milk products like probiotic dahi, probiotic cheese, probiotic yoghurt and yoghurt drinks. Milk in its natural form is almost unique as a balanced source of man’s dietary need. The various steps in processing and storage have a measurable impact on some specific nutrients. Milk also provides a convenient and useful vehicle for addition of certain nutrients to our diet and has following benefits:
a. Easier quality control measure implementation.
b. Wider consumption by all age groups.
c. Cost is affordable by target population.
d. Higher stability and bioavailability of the added micronutrients.
e. Addition of fortificants usually caused minimum change in color, taste and appearance.
V. Fortified Milk Products
Liquid milk fortification with vitamins A & D is mandatory in several countries. β- carotene is added as a color-enhancing agent to some milk products such as butter. Dried milk is often fortified with vitamins A and D, calcium, and iron. Milk based infant formula and weaning foods are fortified with a range of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients such as polyunsaturated fatty acids. Powdered milk used for complementary feeding in Chile is fortified with vitamin C, iron, copper and zinc. However, the milk fortification usually impaired its sensory and processing quality characteristics. Moreover, bioavailability of fortified nutrients is another major concern.
VI. Challenges in development of functional dairy foods
In India, we’ve traditional products touted as functional but have little scientific validation. Regulations will thus need to evolve to promote R&D, ensure validation and restrict exploitation of consumers. Companies also need to be sincere and honest in their claims while marketing and communicating with consumers till appropriate regulations laid down by FSSAI are enacted as so. Food Processors will have to provide an optimal merger between taste, convenience and health attributes. Companies would require expert knowledge in Flavor masking fortification know-how and delivery systems.
VII. Scientific validation of functional foods
The scientific evidence for functional foods and their physiologically active components can be categorized into four distinct areas: (a) clinical trials, (b) animal studies, (c) experimental in vitro laboratory studies, and (d) epidemiologic studies. Much of the current evidence for functional foods lacks well-designed clinical trials; however, the foundational evidence provided through the other types of scientific investigation is substantial for several of the functional foods and their health-promoting components.
Consumer awareness about the connection between diet and health has led to continuously growing demand for functional foods. Rapid advancements in science and technology, increasing healthcare costs, changes in food laws affecting label and merchandise claims, an aging population, and rising interest in achieving wellness through diet are among the factors fueling interest in functional foods. Credible research indicates many potential health benefits from milk components. Development of functional foods needs taking under consideration variety of issues starting from material selection, process parameters, and sensory acceptance also as validation of the intended health virtues of the food. While considerable progress has been made during this regard, far more must be wiped out this area.
Note: The author is an Aspiring Food Technologist, Writer and opinions expressed in this article are based on review of scientific research carried by subject expertise organizations/Researchers, scholars and has nothing to do with the organization he works for.