Extrusion technology is starting to exert itself into all areas of food manufacturing. Several varieties of extruders are available for the productions of all types of RTE cereals, pasta, cereal-based snack foods, pet foods and aquatic feeds. More and more food companies that used conventional methods for the production of these and other related products are slowly replacing their old processing systems with extruders. Processing speed is increased and production cost are reduced significantly.

Almost every type of ready-to-eat breakfast cereal process can be replaced with extrusion technology. With extrusion cooking being a continuous process, it is more economical than the batch type processing associated with most breakfast cereal processing. The wide variety of die shapes and sizes and cooking extruder types make any expanded RTE cereal easy to process.

The market for texturized vegetable protein has been growing steadily and is expected to do so over the next several years primary because of health concerns from consuming too much red meat. Extrusion cooking of vegetable proteins lowers the cost significantly for making TVP and makes it a economical substitute for vegetarians.

Extrusion cooking is also very useful in the pet food industry. Again, the multiple types of extruders and various shapes and sizes of extruder dies leads to a abundance of final product appearances and moistures. Both dry products as well as soft-moist pet foods can be produced with extrusion cooking. Co-extrusion can also be utilized to create a even wider variety of pet food products. Extrusion cooking can also be used to produce a wide range aquatic feeds. In this process, the density of the final extruded product can be controlled to produce a product that will either float or sink to the bottom to feed either top or bottom feeding fish (Wenger, 1992).

Cooking extruders are also being utilized as replacements for the current pasta extruders. The- process for producing pasta, as mentioned earlier, requires as long drying procedure. A cooking extruder would produce a pasta product requiring minimal drying in comparison.

Current research with cooking extruders includes the extrusion of starch and starch/gum mixtures to modify the starch characteristics and possibly forming graft copolymers that would lower the cost of gums currently used in the food industry. Other current research includes using extrusion cooking to produce restructured meat products and using the extruder as a reactor for enzymatic hydrolysis of starch type products.

The possibilities are endless for extrusion cooking and their use in the food industry should continue to grow.


The authors would like to gratefully thank Wenger Manufacturing, Inc., Werner & Pfleiderer Corp., and Dr. Judson Harper and his staff at Colorado State University for their assistance in constructing this chapter. D R. Gray would also like to thank his wife, Jean Gray, for her assistance in the preparation of this manuscript.

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