If you're making infant milk formula or any other food product for very young children, your ingredients must meet the highest standards of hygiene and safety. There are strict protocols for the production of conventional lecithin. Bunge takes these even further in making infant-grade lecithin at a specialized processing plant in the Netherlands which has been approved by leading producers of infant formula and baby food.
There are no specific regulations governing infant-grade lecithin but there is EU legislation for infant formula, which is the main application for this type of lecithin. Based on this legislation, infant formula producers have rigorous requirements for ingredients. In producing sunflower-based infant-grade lecithin, Bunge's approach starts at the farmer. Seeds are purchased from approved sources and the crushing plants are regularly audited to ensure they meet strict hygiene standards.
The specialized lecithin processing plant is designed and operated according to the requirements of major infant formula manufacturers. For infant-grade lecithin, Bunge has implemented a detailed monitoring program that goes several steps further than the monitoring of conventional lecithin. Additional parameters include microorganisms, contaminants such as heavy metals and an extensive list of pesticides. This monitoring program is conducted across the production process, from standardization and flushing to filling and packing, for every batch of infant-grade lecithin.
The pictures show the filling stations in the clean environment needed to meet the strictest hygiene standards
Filling is one of the most critical points in production, so a special sampling process takes place at this stage. At the start, middle and end of filling, over 60 samples are taken and then tested by the approved external independent laboratory for the presence of pathogens and hygiene indicators. Among others, samples are tested for Cronobacter sakazakii, Salmonella spp. and Listeria monocytogenes, all of which are hazardous to an infant’s health. Only when each batch passes these tests it is cleared for release, and because the production process considers that infant-grade lecithin is mainly used in powdered formulas, the product is ready to use without further processing.
In addition to meeting the requirements of leading infant formula and food producers, Bunge Loders Croklaan ensures that its infant-grade lecithin complies with local regulations, allowing us to supply it throughout the world. With our end-to-end supply chain control, we can ensure continuous volumes. And with our focus on innovation, we are working to extend our infant-grade lecithin portfolio to include other botanical sources.
For more information about our infant-grade lecithin, please contact Magdalena Baars-Paszkowska, Quality & Food Safety Officer. With an MSc in Food Technology, more than seven years of experience as a microbiologist at a leading food producer, and as the mother of a seven-month-old boy, no one is more dedicated.