ZEIN is the water-insoluble prolamine from corn gluten, manufactured initially as a concentrated powder. It is unique in its ability to form odorless, tasteless, clear, hard and almost invisible edible films. Since ZEIN films are completely safe to ingest, it is the perfect coating for foods and pharmaceutical ingredients.
ZEIN is extracted from gluten by physical rather than chemical means and is, therefore, totally natural. It is a food ingredient, not an additive. ZEIN is shown to be remarkably resistant to bacterial attack, which frequently decomposes other proteinaceous material. It seems to repel many insects such as the Indian Meal Moth, which often infests nut and grain products that are unprotected.
ZEIN is presently used to coat candy, flavors, pharmaceutical tablets and ingredients which are encapsulated in time-release, granulation and seeds. The coating forms used can be general film coating and enteric coating. In the food and confection industries, ZEIN is used for coating enriched rice, candies, such as chocolates and jelly beans, dried fruits, nuts, nut meats, and also for the encapsulation of flavors and sweeteners.
ZEIN can be combined with many other ingredients to give different coating qualities and with colors to give a wide range of color coatings. It is considered a better coating than shellac (confectioner’s or pharmaceutical glaze) because ZEIN coating solutions dry faster offering extended shelf-life, particularly under high-humidity and high-heat conditions.