How manufacturers are providing moisture control for their nutraceuticals


how manufacturers extend shelf life and protect against moisture damage of nutraceuticals


How manufacturers are providing moisture control for their nutraceuticals

To keep their products free from moisture damage, nutraceutical manufacturers are using desiccant canisters, packets, and inserts in their packaging units. Applications include pharmaceutical, medical, nutritional, and diagnostic. Some packets are available in a continuous strip wound on a reel for automatic loading. Some provide early and visible warnings against possible humidity damage.

Süd-Chemie Performance Packaging, Belen, N.M., offers desiccant products with a variety of desiccant fills: activated clay, activated carbon, silica gel, and molecular sieve. There is also a two-in-one product that contains a mixture of silica gel or activated clay along with an activated carbon. The clay and carbon are effective in controlling unpleasant odors that may emanate from certain vitamins and herbals.

Bob Crossno, Süd-Chemie’s national sales manager, explained that desiccant packets, available in sizes from 0.25 gm to 10 gm, are less expensive than canisters and are often used by companies that do not have high-speed automation. (Desiccant canisters are used for high-speed automatic insertion of desiccants in specialized packaging operations used widely in the pharmaceutical industry.) Some firms opt for desiccant inserts that are fitted into bottle caps; however, the inserts can’t be used in bottles that have an induction seal, or foil liner.

Desiccant canisters are available in sizes that range from 0.5 gm to 3 gm. Pharmavite, Northridge, Calif., makers of Nature Made vitamins, minerals, and other dietary supplements, uses 1-gm desiccant canisters for nearly three million packaging units annually for its lines of multivitamins and calcium formulations.

Crossno said clay was introduced in desiccant canisters to the nutraceutical market five to eight years ago. Clay, he claims, is beneficial because it is natural and is more effective than silica gel. But the most aggressive desiccant in the market is molecular sieve, he explained. It is designed to meet required moisture levels below 1%.

How does a manufacturer know what size desiccant canister to use? Size is determined by the following factors: size of the bottle and number of tablets in the bottle; the moisture content of the tablet; the desired shelf-life of the product; and the water vapor transmission rate (WVTR) through the plastic bottle.

In addition to plain canisters, Süd-Chemie offers manufacturers canisters with labels imprinted. All labels have the words "Do not eat" and can be printed in several languages. The label can also include the manufacturer’s name.

Crossno said nutraceutical manufacturers are following Europe’s lead in using effervescent tablets. Süd-Chemie offers manufacturers of effervescent products a packaging alternative to foil packs. They are injection-molded tubes, and the caps are filled with the desiccant. "We fill the cap with a silica gel and crimp it so it’s part of the cap. We make a vast majority of these packs in Europe. We’re seeing some growth in the United States, so we’re building an operation here to make these products," he said.

Knight-McDowell Labs, Carmel, Calif., uses Süd-Chemie’s effervescent packs for its Airborne Formula, a product that contains amino acids, antioxidants, and electrolytes designed to offer protection from cold germs. Each cap houses a desiccant and has a soft spring cap that holds the tablets in place.

Pete Patras, director of manufacturing at another nutraceutical manufacturer, Nutramax Laboratories, Edgewood, Md., explained that Nutramax also places desiccants in its bottles to prevent moisture damage. He emphasized that the manufacturing environment is also important in keeping moisture out of nutraceutical products and said that Nutramax’s manufacturing environment is computer controlled for moisture and temperature. "Certain nutraceuticals need more monitoring than others. If you are handling powders, you want to control the humidity. If it gets too damp, the powder will stick together, and if it is too dry, there is the potential for a dust explosion," he said.

Sandra Levy


Sandra Levy. How manufacturers are providing moisture control for their nutraceuticals.

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