A distinctive feature of bioactive food components and probiotic bacteria is their vulnerability to harsh environments and the detrimental consequences owing to their rapid degradation and inactivation. For this reason, development of food ingredients with bioactive functionalities is an on-going challenge within the global food industry. More recently, functional food innovation illustrates heightened curiosity for encapsulation techniques since probiotic and bioactive delivery would profit from an encapsulation procedure that protects and /stabilises probiotics during delivery to the site where adsorption is desired.
With origins in the pharmaceutical industry, micro-encapsulation is currently utilised for controlled flavour-release and production of functional foods with probiotic bacteria and bioactive compounds. Nonetheless, encapsulation remains specialist area in the food industry, the reason being that no universal encapsulation technique exists for all food ingredients. Design and production of micro-particles and their release profiles rely upon the encapsulation technology employed and the physicochemical properties of the active ingredient and matrix materials.
The result is a process of constant change, with cheese, artichokes, table olive, frozen desserts, fruit and most recently, chocolate representing novel platforms for delivery of probiotic bacteria. In light of the recent advances in manufacturing technologies and innovative approaches for site-specific cell targeting, probiotic, bioactive and flavour encapsulation has been integrated within various processes in the food, feed and pharmaceutical industry.