Food Engineering

Drawn to purity

April 4, 2006
More than one-third of Americans use complementary and alternative medicine, according to a 2004 study by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a division of the National Institutes of Health. Of these, 19 percent used natural products such as herbs, botanicals and enzymes. Increasingly, market research and NIH studies show that consumers are turning to these products in the form of herbal teas or infusions in order to maintain good health, improve metabolism or increase resistance to the common cold or flu.

Herbal tea is poured into a hopper containing clusters of one-inch diameter, rare earth magnetic tubes. Source: CESCO Magnetics.




One company banking on consumers' interest in these products is Traditional Medicinals, a Sebastopol, CA, manufacturer and marketer of herbal teas or traditional herbal medicines in the form of herbal tea infusions. Founded in 1974, the company's offerings are made in accordance with well-defined formulations recognized in Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Switzerland and other countries where plant-derived or traditional herbal medicines are dispensed or prescribed.

Traditional Medicinals buys only medicinal grade herbs as defined by EU, US, German, British and Ayurvedic pharmacopoeias and holds every delivery in quarantine until its quality assurance team performs tests to confirm identity and assess quality. "We add no flavors, colors or stabilizers and the teabags are manufactured from unbleached fibers to eliminate any possibility of contamination by dioxin residues from a bleaching process," says Joe Kopriva, vice president of operations.

As part of the company's quality process, raw and processed herbs and teas are screened and passed through a series of rare earth magnets four times to remove any metals that might be in the mix from harvesting or processing operations. Herbs are run through the first set of magnets, after picking, sifting and grading, at qualified suppliers' facilities located around the world. After the herbs are conditioned, cut or macerated, dried and released from quarantine, they pass through a second set of magnetic hoppers and in-feed chutes above the mixers or blenders at the company's modern 70,000-sq.-ft. facility.

After blending and before bagging, the mixed herbs pass through a third set of magnets in the blenders spout, and they are screened one fourth and final time on the bagging machines. The separators were carefully engineered to match Traditional Medicinals' unique applications. According to CESCO, the design of a magnetized chute, spout, duct or hopper is dependent on the depth or volume of product flow, rate of flow, moisture content, metals to capture, space constraints and how the tramp metal or residue will be removed after it is separated and captured.

For more information:
Mark Truslow; CESCO Magnetics; 877-624-8727