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Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2008 May;48(5):361-77. doi: 10.1080/10408390701347801.

Hydrocolloid gel particles: formation, characterization, and application.

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Centre for Nutrition and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.


Hydrocolloid gel particles of micron and sub-micron size are particularly attractive for use in many applications in the food, agricultural, pharmaceutical, and chemical industries, due to their biocompatibility, perception as "natural" materials, and soft-solid texture. Industrial applications for such particles include uses as texturizers in confectionery and cosmetic products, slow-release encapsulation agents for flavors, nutrients, and pharmaceutical products, and thickeners in soups and sauces. Properties such as particle size, hardness, shape, texture, and molecular release rates can be important for individual applications. In addition, product formats will determine specific needs for physical form (e.g. dry or wet) and compatibility with other components. The diverse range of potential applications for hydrocolloid gel particles provide a driver for understanding-led tailoring of raw material and process conditions. This review introduces some of the materials that are used to form hydrocolloid gel particles and the corresponding gel formation mechanisms. One issue of importance in the production of hydrocolloid gel particles is the control of particle properties, such as release profiles, strength, and detectability within products. An alternative technique to traditional methods of hydrocolloid gel particle production is evaluated and a model for control of particle size, and subsequently other particle properties, is proposed. Key properties of hydrocolloid gel particles are identified and characterization methods for evaluating these properties are described.

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