Yeast has been around for thousands of years. While it is known primarily as the oldest food processing component, people in agriculture have also used it for another part of food products.
So what is the best way to package this vital ingredient to maintain its viability? There is a strong case that flexible packaging is the best method.
First, let’s consider the uses of yeast. There is a long history of adding yeast to animal feed, and there are many benefits to that. Years of research show that it is yeast’s ability to take up oxygen that makes it valuable in animal nutrition. Farm animals, taken out of the wild and domesticated over centuries, have become more vulnerable to harmful microorganisms. But veterinary science solved this problem by borrowing from human medicine. Veterinarians determined that probiotics, or introducing a microorganism into the body, has beneficial, rather than invasive qualities.
Yeasts are single-celled microorganisms classified as members of the fungus family. The specific yeast species named Saccharomyces cerevisiae (s. cerevisiae) converts carbohydrates to carbon dioxide and alcohols. Over thousands of years, the carbon dioxide emitted by s. cerevisiae has been useful both for baking and for making alcoholic beverages. But research uncovered that s.cerevisiae is useful in the care and feeding of farm animals, primarily by stimulating bacterial activity in their gut.
Yeast benefits a wide variety of farm mammals in this way. Feeding live yeasts to cattle stimulates their metabolism; improves the digestibility and absorption of feed; reduces the risk of acidosis (excessive acid in the body fluids or tissues); and increases growth and milk production in cows. It’s the same for pigs. Feeding them live yeast not only aids digestion and increases their growth and milk production as it does in cattle, but it also reduces pathogens.
Yeast can also be particularly beneficial to horses when added to premium feeds. Like cattle and pigs, it significantly improves horses’ digestion of fiber. Several studies have also shown that newly weaned horses that eat yeast culture over six months were 11 lbs. (five kg.) heavier and grew 10 percent faster than those not fed yeast culture. (The improvement in growth rate may have come from the improved digestibility of its feed).
According to Jeff Beer, Technical Director for Fres-co System USA, Inc., there is no single best way to package yeast. He explains that packaging needs to be designed for the particular type of yeast in question. As he is often quick to add, Beer defines a highly effective packager as who has made the taken the effort to fully understand a product’s properties (e.g., form and consistency, chemical composition), as well as how it will be used by the end consumer.
“Baker’s yeasts, as the name implies, are generally used for baking,” he says. “It is a dry, granular, free-flowing product. The granules contain live yeast cells encased in growth medium. They are very sensitive to moisture and must be kept very dry for preservation. They are normally packaged in aluminum foil based material, usually under vacuum seal.”
“With brewer’s yeasts, again the name is obvious. These are used to make beer and wine, and they use the same live fungus as baker’s yeasts. The dry form needs the same high barrier to moisture.”
Then, Beer explains, there is a difference in the brewer’s yeasts intended for human and animal consumption rather than for making beverages. “This type of yeast is dead; as such, it requires only a mild barrier. It’s not necessary to put this yeast in a hermetic, or airtight, package, though doing so will enhance the product shelf life.”
On the other hand, as Beer points out, probiotic supplements — a different yeast altogether, as defined above — are live organisms. They need a higher level of moisture protection, just as the baker’s yeasts do. “Non-foil bags with valves, such as those we produce at Fres-co, would be sufficient.”
When one adds a degassing valve to a flexible package as Fres-co can, there is an additional practical benefit. Valved bags are easily stacked, allowing a more efficient palletization. In fact, this feature is beneficial along every step of the supply chain, from the producers of quality feed, to the transport team, to the distributors, and finally to the end customers, the owners of horse, cattle and other farm animals.
Given the many uses of yeast — indeed, a much more versatile product than we often realize — a carefully chosen package is key to its preservation. While yeast is usually thought of for baking biscuits and brewing beer, its use in the feed industry is also known to be important. We suggest that yeast producers to consider their product’s versatility and apply an equal measure of creativity when deciding how to package it. Flexible packaging, like flexible thinking, is a key.
Click here to learn more about how the Termalock industrial sealing system from Fres-co helps preserve the yeast that is so important in animal feeds. Our site will also tell you about the wide range of products that the Termalock industrial sealing system protects against dehydration, moisture and oxidation.
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