Halting the Heat: Formulating for Cold Extrusion

Formulating for Cold Extrusion

Industry veterans familiar with pet food and treat manufacturing likely have a solid understanding of extrusion technology. However, some may not know that the same extrusion machines can be adapted to exclude water and heat.

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Halting the Heat: Formulating for Cold Extrusion

Industry veterans familiar with pet food and treat manufacturing likely have a solid understanding of extrusion technology. However, some may not know that the same extrusion machines that they use daily can be adapted to exclude water and heat from the process. This is what we call cold extrusion, and it’s piquing the interest of the pet industry due its wide ranging benefits.

How To Keep The Bad Bugs Out

The first question some may ask when exploring cold extrusion is how to avoid contamination or potential pathogens in the final product. This is a valid question as the heat used in hot extrusion not only cooks the ingredients but also kills off any potential bad bugs.

While it is great at sterilizing, heat also has its downsides. The heat used to cook and sterilize the product not only kills bad bacteria but good bacteria as well. This means that it is challenging to formulate for hot extrusion using live ingredients like probiotics as the healthy bacteria won’t make it through the extrusion process.

So, how does cold extrusion keep the good bugs in and the bad ones out? The secret lies in the ingredients. All ingredients used in cold extrusion are sterilized before entering the hopper which means that further sterilization of the product is not necessary. This shows it is possible to make a safe product without heat, and consequently easier to formulate with live ingredients.

Making Moisture A Thing Of The Past

Moisture control during and after the extrusion process is always a challenge. Too much moisture can affect shelf stability and cause mold issues. Too little moisture and the formula will cook wrong affecting the palatability of the final product.

However, these moisture challenges are only applicable to hot extrusion, making cold extrusion much simpler. There is no water added during the cold extrusion process, allowing the final product to maintain the taste, smell, and color of its ingredients. Gone is the “burnt” smell often associated with hot extruded products.

Overall, cold extruded products do not often suffer from water-based issues like mold, and in our opinion, they have a much more pleasant odor. Finally, the absence of water means that a cold extruded product can potentially contain more beneficial ingredients by weight than a similar hot extruded product.

No Gumming Agents, No Problem

Gumming agents like xanthan gum are often used in processed foods as a stabilizer or thickening agent, and they are commonly found in soft and chewy pet treats. Though proven as non-toxic, these gumming agents can cause abdominal discomfort in some humans1, so it’s understandable if some pet owners want to avoid these ingredients for their pets.

Thankfully, cold extrusion doesn’t require the use of gumming agents in formulation, resulting in products that could appeal to consumers paying close attention to the ingredients in pet products. In fact, studies show that 54% of consumers are looking for healthy ingredients in pet products2, meaning owners are paying more attention to ingredients in pet products than ever before.

Overall, less additives means more room for flavor, botanicals, and active ingredients, leading to a potentially more potent product when using the cold extrusion methodology.

Closing the Cold Extrusion Case

The use of cold extrusion in pet products is poised to present new opportunities for pet brands. This type of manufacturing creates a unique selling proposition for pet brands when used to produce consumables such as pet supplements. Traditionally purchased in tablets or powders, cold extruded supplements create an alternative way for owners to boost their furry friend’s overall wellness.

Unique products made with cold extrusion are especially important in an era where consumers are excited about new and innovative products for their pets. Will cold extrusion bring additional product types to market in the future? Time will tell, and ADM will be there to report on these topics and more interesting new trends.

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This content is based on United States laws and regulations applicable on the day of publication of this content. We point out that customers are required to ensure that any labeling and claims made by customers for their finished products must be based on the regulatory requirements and scientific standards of the country in which the final products are offered for sale. Not all products are available in all regions.