From Farm to Tablet: The Tablet Press

By Abigail McShinksy

From Farm to Tablet: The Tablet Press

From Farm to Tablet: The Tablet Press

A few months back, we took a detailed look at the Refractance Window Drying technology that MegaFood uses to carefully dry our FoodState Nutrients. While the dryer may turn the most heads, it’s far from the only step of the process that’s been carefully considered to maintain the nutritional content of our products.

High temperatures are the enemy of nutrients when it comes to delivering a product made with real foods. Keeping our facilities temperature controlled is an important part of keeping our FoodState Nutrients safe, but there are other sneaky ways that heat can be introduced.

What happens, for example, when you press a powdered formulation into a tablet? Because we keep ‘added ingredients’ like binders and fillers to a minimum (no magnesium stearate here, thank you very much), it all comes down to pressure. Now, to produce tablets at an efficient rate, we need to press them rather quickly. This pressure, plus the friction and speed caused by a tablet press, equals heat. No bueno.

They Don’t Make ‘em Like they Used To!

Modern tablet presses have just this very problem. They produce a lot of tablets, but they produce a LOT of heat, which isn’t surprising when they press up to a million tablets per hour! Instead of using one of these state-of-the-art tablet presses to make our tablets, MegaFood uses a combo of old and new machines to keep the heat to a minimum, and the nutrition intact.

Antiquity, Appreciated.

MegaFood currently has four tablet presses in rotation. Three of these presses are old models that date back to the 1940’s and 1960’s - what?! The good news - these machines are slow and produce little to no heat for our tablets. They can press just 25,000 tablets per hour. The bad news? The company that makes these no longer exists, and when a part breaks, we have to machine it. Small price to pay, though, for tablets with integrity!  

We do know that we won’t be able to rebuild these old guys forever, though, so we recently invested in a shiny new tablet press. We were shocked to find, however, when shopping around, that no one had ever asked the tablet press company how much heat it generated! This is a big deal to us. So after some tests, and some modifications to reduce heat even more, we are the proud parents of a new press that can produce up to 250,000 tablets per hour (though we’ve never pushed it past 100,000, because slow = low heat!). Not so glamorous, but oh-so-cool! ;)

The Unsung Heroes

While the Refractance Window Dryers may be the stars of the show, I like to think of the tablet presses as the unsung heroes. What would be the point of working with US farm partners, sourcing over 500,000 lbs a year of the best whole foods out there, and using slow drying methods if we were just going to destroy some of the nutrition when it came time to make tablets? It’s some (whole)food for thought! ;)


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