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Thermal or membrane processing for infant formula and its effects on pig growth performance and nutrient digestibility

Project summary

Infant milk formula (IMF) is consumed by the most sensitive of populations, infants and young children less than 36 months of age. ‘Breast is best’ when it comes to nutrition for infants, however, this is not always possible and as such, IMF is the next best alternative. At present, IMF undergoes rigid heat treatment during processing and this can have a deleterious effect on proteins and the oxidation of fatty acids, as well as causing the formation of undesirable Maillard reaction products. There is scope to improve the nutritional quality of IMF by reducing the thermal load, while at the same time ensuring microbiological safety and a long shelf life. The TOMI project will produce IMF with reduced levels of thermal treatment by using a novel processing technique known as cascade membrane filtration (CMF). Once produced, a number of in vivo animal feeding studies will be conducted to determine the effect of thermally processed IMF versus IMF processed by CMF on the growth and feed efficiently of newly weaned pigs. The digestibility of proteins and amino acids, together with plasma, urine and interstitial fluid samples will also be examined.

The main objectives of this project are to determine the effect of thermally processed IMF vs. IMF processed by CMF on:

  1. The growth and feed efficiency of newly weaned pigs
  2. Protein and amino acid digestibility
  3. The concentration of glucose in interstitial fluid of newly weaned pigs
  4. Intestinal permeability of newly weaned pigs