Medications of any kind have to be of the highest quality. There’s no place for doubts that the product might be flawed.
That applies as much to medicated and functional products bought over-the-counter as it does to medicines prescribed by a doctor. The image presented by the product has to be first-class and reassuring.
This must, I believe, explain the rapid growth of deposited hard candies and jellies as the ideal medium to carry medications and dietary supplements. They look good, are more palatable than the alternatives of tablets or capsules, and the consistently high quality supports high pricing and healthcare positioning.
Confectionery also overcomes a psychological barrier caused by the association of traditional delivery systems with illness and medical intervention – these are products to improve health and well-being, not cure an ailment.
We have found the smooth mouth-feel and slow, continuous release of deposited hard candy ideal for medicated products, while jelly and fruit products are more appropriate to functional applications. Both can be made with sugar or be sugar-free.
Functional, and especially medicated, candy is not new but the accuracy and hygiene of modern cooking and depositing techniques has brought depositing into the mainstream. Crucially, the process adheres to the principles of GMP and is readily capable of validation to FDA/EMEA standards.
The functional sector ranges from boosting the intake of essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein to adding beneficial supplements such as folic acid and Omega-3 to the diet. This sector also extends to sports nutrition where candy is ideally suited to portable and convenient energy and recovery products.
Medicated products include ingredients such as antiseptics, menthol and eucalyptus oil to alleviate the symptoms of minor ailments such as coughs, colds, sore throats and nasal congestion.
The principal characteristics of depositing are central to the successful production of medicated and functional candy. The depositing process does not degrade expensive active ingredients, and there is high accuracy throughout the mixing, cooking and depositing processes. Exactly the right proportion of active ingredients is added, every deposited piece is precisely the same weight, and the process is reproducible.
Depositing can add different forms of active ingredients at various stages. Heat stable ingredients can be incorporated at the start of the weighing and mixing process, while low-volume liquid additions can be mixed in after cooking using the high-accuracy colour/flavour incorporation system. Viscous ingredients can be deposited as a centre filling, which may be encapsulated within either a jelly or hard candy outer.
Volatile ingredients are added just before the depositor hopper, which has a low retention time that minimises evaporation; it is also possible to place solid pieces directly into the moulds before the candy is deposited.