Microencapsulation in Food and Related Applications

Microencapsulation image

The microencapsulation research program, led by Dr. M. Rosenberg, is aimed at developing new basic knowledge and applicable information and technology to allow effective delivery of nutrients, bio-active compounds and sensitive ingredients through food systems. The program addresses relevant issues related to both pre- and post-harvest applications.

View the photos and slides about this project.


Human health, nutritional status and well being can be enhanced through consumption of foods containing specifically desired nutrients and bio-active agents. Disease preventing and health promoting properties of different nutrients and bio-agents have been demonstrated.  Among these agents are specific poly-unsaturated lipids, antioxidants,  phytochemicals, vitamins, peptides, etc. Enriching foods with such agents can significantly enhance the nutritional and health-promoting properties of foods and beverages. In other situations, quality of food products is dependent on the incorporation and delivery of flavor, aroma, color, and other sensitive ingredients. However, the extreme sensitivity of many of these desired compounds leads to their deterioration, at conditions prevailing during food processing and storage, and thus significantly compromises our capability to incorporate them into foods. Preparing high quality nutritious food is therefore critically dependent of availability of effective delivery systems. Such systems should preserve the specific nutritional, biological, chemical and functional properties of the sensitive constituent, pending consumption, and should effectively release the delivered compounds, in a desired mode, following ingestion. Current nutrients and ingredients delivery technologies fall short of allowing meeting these goals successfully and a need to develop new, highly functional delivery systems exists. The most promising technology that can allow overcoming the stated difficulties is microencapsulation. Microencapsulation involves the entrapment and tailored controlled delivery of biologically active and/or sensitive components. Although the concept has been used successfully, for several decades, in drug delivery applications, its utilization in food applications is in its infancy and is compromised by the very limited array of functional GRAS encapsulating agents and technologies. A critical need to investigate and develop new and advanced technologies and devices for nutrients delivery through foods thus exists. 

Research Directions:

The program addresses a broad array of questions and challenges related to microencapsulation, in three main research directions

1.      Wall (matrix) Materials for Microencapsulation.

Selection, development and characterization of biodegradable, biocompatible, safe and environmental friendly materials suitable for utilization as encapsulating agents.

  • Investigating and developing new understanding pertaining to relevant and/or modified bio-polymers.
  • Developing basic and applicable understanding and information related to the molecular structure, physico-chemical properties and functionality of wall materials in delivery matrices.
2.      Processes for Microencapsulation.

Investigating, developing, and optimizing processes for microencapsulation applications.

  • Developing basic and applicable knowledge about the relationships between process elements, selection and properties of materials and the ultimate physico-chemical properties, functionality, compatibility and the bio-functionality of delivery systems.
3. Properties and functionality of encapsulated systems

Developing understanding about functionality of delivery systems such as microcapsules and microspheres.

  • Investigating and developing new understanding about the relationships between compositions, physico-chemical, structural, and mechanical properties of encapsulated systems and their functionality and compatibility in end applications.
  • Tailoring, modulating and optimizing process parameters in order to attain desired functionality profiles, bio- and/or environmental-compatibility, physical and mechanical properties and biodegradability of encapsulated systems.

Some Relevant Publications

  1. Moshe Rosenberg and Edward J. DePeters 2005. Protected Dry Composites. US Patent Application, Pending

  2. S. Cheng, E.J. DePeters, M. Rosenberg. 2005. Efficacy of a Novel Whey Protein Gel Complex to Increase the Unsaturated Fatty Acid Composition of Bovine Milk Fat. J. of Dairy Sci. 89:640-650.

  3. Rosenberg, M. and S-J. Lee. 2004. Water-insoluble. Whey protein-based microspheres prepared by an all-aqueous process. J. Food Sci., 69(1): FEP51-FEP57.

  4. Rosenberg, M. and Lee, S.J. 2004. Calcium-alginate coated, whey protein-based microspheres: Preparation, some properties and opportunities. J. Microencapsulation. 21(3): 263-281.

  5. M. Rosenberg and E. DePeters. 2003. Method and Compositions for Preparing and Delivering Rumen Protected Lipids, Other Nutrients and Medicaments. International Patent application (06/2003). Pending.

  6. Satpathy, G. and M. Rosenberg. 2003. Encapsulation of chlorothiazide in whey proteins: effects of wall-to-core ratio and cross-linking technology on microcapsule properties and drug release. J. Microencapsulation. 20(2) 227-245.

  7. M. Rosenberg and E. DePeters. 2003. Method and Compositions for Preparing and Delivering Rumen Protected Lipids, Other Nutrients and Medicaments. U.S. Patent application (06/2003) pending.
  8. Lee, S.J., and M. Rosenberg. 2001. Microencapsulation of theophylline in whey proteins: Effects of core-to-wall ratio.  International J. Pharmaceutics, 205: 147-158.  

  9. Lee, S.J., and M. Rosenberg. 2001. Microencapsulation of theophylline in composite wall system consisting of whey proteins and lipids.  J. Microencapsulation, 18: 309-321.

  10. Lee, Sung Je, and Moshe Rosenberg. 2000.  Whey protein-based microcapsules prepared by double emulsification and heat gelation.  Food Science and Technology (Lebensmittel-Wissenschaft und Technologie) 33(2):80-88.

  11. Lee, S.J., and M. Rosenberg. 2000. Preparation and some properties of water-insoluble whey protein-based microcapsules.  Journal of Microencapsulation 17(1):29-44.

  12. Moreau, D.L., and M. Rosenberg. 1999. Porosity of microcapsules with wall systems consisting of whey proteins and lactose measured by gas displacement pycnometry.  Journal of Food Science 64(3):405-409.

  13. Lee, S.J., and M. Rosenberg. 1999. Preparation and properties of gluteraldehyde cross-linked whey protein-based microcapsules containing theophylline.  Journal of Controlled Release 61(1-2):123-136.
  14. Moreau, D.L., and M. Rosenberg. 1998. Porosity of whey protein-based microcapsules containing anhydrous milkfat measured by gas displacement pycnometry.  Journal of Food Science 63(5):819-823.
  15. Rosenberg, M. 1997. Milk derived whey protein-based microencapsulating agents and method of use. U.S. patent 5,601,760.