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Nutritious formula

Source:Food Bev Asia

Date Published:3/5/2019 11:03:44 AM

In an industry where new experiences and options rule, Morinaga Milk Industry stays its course by continuing to explore the familiar and scale its application, writes JEAN ALINGOD-GUITTAP.

WHILE others have their eye on expanding product variety, Morinaga Milk Industry is concentrating on fortification and scaling the impact of effective products. And in light of the growing need for healthy and safe food sources, plus the alarming statistics on child malnutrition, such focus is proving effective.

Morinaga Milk Industry is the second largest dairy firm in Japan. Established in 1917, the company carries products ranging from dairy-based milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, coffee and tea beverages to probiotic functional and medical foods, and infant and adult powdered formula. It credits product success to extensive research on the nutritional properties of breast milk and its functional ingredients, as well as the health benefits of human gut bacteria and their stabilisation in foods.

“Years of research into the differences between breast milk and formula milk have led the company to discover that breast milk contains lactoferrin, a lactoprotein that prevents infection, and that Bifidobacterium longum BB536 is present in infants’ intestines,” says company spokesperson Tamami Shibata. “Morinaga has since successfully commercialised these discoveries and created a variety of high value-added products.”

One such product now sold in Indonesia and Malaysia is Chil-kid milk powder whose formula is enriched with DHA, AA, GOS (prebiotic) and Nucleotides.

Ms Shibata explains that DHA omega-3 is naturally found throughout the body and is most abundant in the brain, eyes and heart. “DHA plays an important role in the development of visual function and retina tissue function. It is also crucial for a healthy brain. AA plays a role in immunity and blood clotting as well as other vital bodily functions. GOS benefits the bowel movement by stimulating the growth and activity of the beneficial bacteria in the colon. It helps Bifidobacterium to increase defecation frequency hence helping prevent constipation in children.”  

The formula is also enriched with five balanced nucleotides. Studies show that children who took formula with nucleotides are less likely to suffer from diarrhoea, and they had better responses to vaccination, producing more antibodies and other immune cells, according to the company.

Chil-kid sold in Indonesia is fortified with Morinaga’s flagship probiotics BB536 and M-16V.

Morinaga's Chil-kid formula

Morinaga is building on research for products that will strengthen children’s digestive health, immunity, as well as stimulate brain, eye and heart development. Chil-kid formula is enriched with DHA, AA, GOS (prebiotic) and Nucleotides, which together offer better immune health and bodily functions.

Harnessing live microorganisms

In the late 1960s, Morinaga made headway in isolating its most famous strain of probiotics, Bifidobacterium longum BB536, from an infant. As probiotics are sensitive to acid and oxygen, the bifidobacterial species in the human intestine were difficult to apply to food products. By 1971, however, Morinaga became the first company in Japan to apply Bifidobacterium longum on dairy products. Ms Shibata clarifies that while the B. longum BB536 was isolated from a healthy infant, the species is present in the intestines of humans of all ages.

B. longum BB536 has since been available on the Japanese market and has gained global recognition for applications in yogurt, nutritional supplements and infant formulas in more than 30 countries. One of Morinaga’s yogurt, Bifidus Yogurt, which contains BB536 is a clinically-certified food product by the Japanese government and continues to rank as among the country’s bestsellers.

The company asserts that this rare and highly-effective strain has been a subject of more than 120 published papers, and a wealth of clinical study data. “Efficacies have been shown widely ranging from gastrointestinal health, immunity, allergy, bone strength, anti-infection and even on colorectal cancer risk.”

M-16V is another representative key probiotic strain of Morinaga.

“Normally, bifidobacteria makes up more than 90% of the intestinal flora of a healthy baby,” explains Ms Shibata. “Yet the intestinal tract tends to be undeveloped in a low-birthweight baby, especially a baby with an extremely low birthweight of less than 1,500g. An undeveloped intestinal tract is often unable to colonise bifidobacteria. This increases the opportunity for the growth of unfavourable bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus.”

Collaborative studies by Morinaga and university hospitals have found that the administration of one proprietary strain of Bifidobacterium breve M-16V to low- or extremely-low-birthweight infants promotes the formation of bifidobacteria-predominant intestinal microflora and protects newborns from the risks of necrotising enterocolitis (NEC, a medical condition where a portion of the bowel dies) and sepsis. By promoting the healthy growth of the intestines, the strain facilitates nutrient absorption and promotes the normal development of the immune system.

The Bifidobacterium breve M-16V is now offered to more than 150 facilities in Japan, including neonatal intensive care unit (NICUs) and paediatrics departments, as a probiotic support to the healthy growth of babies. The probiotic has been used in NICUs in Australia since 2012 and more recently in New Zealand and Singapore. Morinaga says it plans to continue supporting the healthy growth of babies and children all over the world.

Threat to very young lives

Preterm birth complication, neonatal sepsis, diarrhoea and malnutrition have been identified as leading causes of death among children under the age of 5. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), stunting and wasting are forms of malnutrition, and their causes and consequences are closely linked to inadequacies in the food system.

Ms Shibata concurs, “It is difficult to obtain well-balanced nutrition from only cow’s milk or baby food. That is why our products such as our follow-up milk Child-mil, which is targeted at children in Japan aged twelve months to three years, include well-balanced nutrients necessary for babies around this age.  For example, iron tends to be insufficient from around one year, so Chil-mil contains iron. It also includes Lactoferrin to protect the baby from diseases, DHA to support the development of the baby’s brain and body, and three types of oligosaccharides to more closely approximate breast milk.

A recent joint report from the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, WHO and the World Bank shows that in 2017, close to 151 million children under five were stunted and nearly 51 million of the same age group were wasted. It points out that while malnutrition can manifest in multiple ways, the path to prevention is virtually identical – by providing nutritious, diverse and safe foods to children in their early years.

Food safety practices

The M-16V has been confirmed safe by oral toxicity tests, analysis of antibiotic resistance, genomic analysis and numerous clinical studies, which found no adverse effects among study subjects, according to Ms Shibata.

In addition, Morinaga’s probiotics are designated as generally recognised as safe by the American Food and Drug Administration. They are manufactured in HACCP-certified facilities using an in-house lyophillisation process, which the company says guarantees a highly-effective probiotic strain with superior stability at various conditions.

In terms of ingredients sourcing and handling, Morinaga has “established a system for conducting ‘prior lot inspections’ from the raw material procurement phase to support the quality and safety of our products. Samples from every lot are inspected at the Quality Assurance Department before the raw materials are delivered to the plants. Only raw materials that pass the inspection are delivered.

“A total of three inspections are conducted after raw materials qualified for quality and safety by prior lot inspections are delivered to the plants: once upon raw material acceptance, once during warehouse storage, and once just before use for production.

“When handling raw milk, the principal raw material for milk and dairy products, we thoroughly protect safety and reliability even during transport from the dairy farmer to the plants. We also conduct regular inspections with high-precision analytical instruments to confirm that the materials are completely free of agricultural chemical residues derived from dairy cattle feed or antibiotics used in the treatment of dairy cattle,” she says.



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