At AFB International, pet food palatants are our specialty. As AFB senior director of global process engineering, my focus is helping our pet food industry customers worldwide prevent and resolve challenges in handling and using our palatants and other products.
Effectively applying pet food palatants is a primary concern of customers. I consult with them in designing their plant palatant application systems, planning palatant application for specific products and troubleshooting when challenges arise. Understanding best practices in system layout, design, handling and processing can prevent many future headaches.
For general guidelines on applying pet food palatants, download my recent white paper, published in the July 2017 issue of Petfood Industry magazine. In addition, here are a few other tips to keep in mind:
- Specialty diets: Tailor your palatant to the specific pet food diet to realize optimal palatability performance. For example, a grain-free diet may require a significantly different palatant than a high-meat diet.
- Plant flexibility: As palatant selection may differ across diets, plan flexibility into your plant design to allow more than one palatant to be used throughout the plant, or consider a palatant system per extrusion line. A perfect time to contemplate plant flexibility is when you add an extrusion line or are designing a new plant.
- Liquid palatant storage: These products perform best when maintained between 70°F and 110°F, which helps maintain viscosity and shelf life. I recommend storing liquid palatants in tanks in the fat storage area of the plant to avoid the need for an auxiliary heating system.
- Liquid palatant application: Whether applying a liquid palatant using an auger or drum coating system, use a positive displacement pump to synchronize the palatant application rate to the kibble feed rate. Once both the fat and liquid palatant are applied, let the kibble blend for approximately three minutes to allow the fat and palatant to fully absorb. Note: Mix times can vary based on the size and shape of the auger and setup of the drum coater.
- Dry palatant application: To minimize buildup in pneumatic transfer systems, I recommend a vacuum coating system with a 3,000- to 4,000-feet-per-minute capability.
VACUUM COATING UPDATE
A vacuum coater is a batch mixer that employs a vacuum to remove the air from a kibble chamber. Then fats and liquid palatants are applied inside the chamber. When the vacuum is slowly broken, the fats and liquid palatants are drawn deeply into the porous kibble.
This system allows topical coating of high levels of fats or liquid palatants, without creating an oily or greasy residue on the kibble. This is especially helpful in manufacturing new diets that are very high in protein and/or fat. If using a vacuum coater, keep in mind these recommendations:
- Cycle time: The standard process for a vacuum coater is to fill it with kibble, close the system, draw the vacuum, add the fat and liquid palatant, release the vacuum, add dry palatant if desired and discharge the kibble. Total cycle time for this process is typically 6 to 8 minutes, depending on the capacity of the feed and transfer systems.
- Performance target: With vacuum coating, kibble texture, density and appearance can change, so test and recalibrate as needed to ensure the resulting kibble still achieves the performance target.
- Overuse: Excessive use of the vacuum will minimize the fat on the kibble surface, reducing its tacking ability—which can result in dry palatant loss. It may be necessary to add more fat after the vacuum process to achieve the proper dry palatant adhesion.
Palatants can and will improve dog food and cat food performance, but proper application is important to ensure targeted performance. If you have questions concerning the design and operation of your applications, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tags: vacuum coating system, process engineering, pet food palatants, pet food palatant application, pet food palatability performance, pet food manufacturing, pet food diet, palatant application, liquid palatants, fats,