Edible Protective Coatings? They’re On The Foods You Eat!

In the food industry, when you apply a layer of solids or liquids onto a product, you are coating that product. Mechanical energy is essentially what is applied for this operation. Typically, a coating ingredient is applied simultaneously to product particles being in motion. Frequently, a certain pattern is used in order to expose every part of the product being coated. Properties involved in this process are crystallization, surface tension, viscosity, friction, and adhesion. Unlike cooling or drying, the coating of food is not a ‘hard’ science. Derived from the accumulation of know-how, it is, rather, a ‘soft’ knowledge. This is because the ingredients and product considered have complex interactions, variations, and characteristics.

And that’s a scientific look at the coatings that go on your food. But, as one could well imagine, there’s more to coating foods than just science.

Is There Wax on Your Food?

There is every possibility that any number of the foods you consume have a coating of wax on them. It can range from an obvious, thick, protective encasement to a thin, indistinguishable layer. When applied for aesthetic purposes, foods are sometimes polished and, because of the thin wax layer, appear shiny and fresh. Apples, for example, are shined to appear more appealing, but the wax coating also helps keep them fresher.

In the industry of food and food preparation, the shiny coating on top of foods such as candy are sometimes achieved through the application of food-grade wax. Though classified as edible, food-grade wax is non-digestible. And though the body cannot break it down, it is considered harmless. In addition to giving candy a more aesthetically pleasing appearance, wax coatings are used to maintain the quality of a specific food, as in the case of various types of cheese.

What Else Is Coated?

More foods than you might imagine contain some type of coating particles. Here are just a few:

  • crunchy nuts
  • snacks
  • nuggets
  • processed cheese
  • paired vegetables
  • chocolate
  • ready to eat cereals

Once the coating has been applied, different types of post treatment are necessary. These can include the following:

  • baking or frying
  • freezing
  • cooling
  • handing
  • drying

Coatings are applied to foods with various objectives in mind. These include palatability, cost, to prevent agglomeration, convenience, taste, flavor, and to enhance appearance. But that’s not all. Sometimes, coatings can be utilized for the addition of food energy, minerals, and vitamins. They can also be added to convey properties of a more functional manner, i.e.:

  • to prevent moisture loss (chewing gum)
  • as a barrier affect (cookies and ice cream)
  • to add an antioxidant effect (cubes of fruit)
  • and to maintain particle separation (shredded cheese).

Of all of these effects, the most difficult to achieve is the barrier affect.

At A&A Coatings, we have been providing protective coatings for the food industry for years. Components, machinery, and more can benefit from thermal spray coatings not only in the food industry, but a wide array of other industries, as well. A company’s bottom line can be substantially improved through the use of protective coatings because they (among other things) decrease maintenance costs and lesson costly downtimes. Contact us today to see what thermal spray coatings can do for you and your company.

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