If you must replace sugar...
Despite lingering debate over sugar’s role in obesity, the food industry is on a tear to reduce or replace sugar in many applications.
Replacements for sugars may be nutritive or non-nutritive and have distinctly different temporal characteristics â the way their sweetness peaks or lingers â which affect the perception and ultimately acceptance of the finished food product. Product formulators have, therefore, resorted to blending sweeteners to optimize the various attributes of the individual components.
Sucralose is the fastest growing replacement product. It has successfully penetrated and transformed sweetener market dynamics to focus on health rather than on sweetness or price. Development of customized applications for every food category has helped Sucralose rapidly gain market share â and raised the barrier to entry for other sweeteners.
One of those latecomers is tagatose. It is gaining momentum with the recent FDA approval of claims that tagatose “does not promote tooth decay” or “may reduce the risk of tooth decay.” Developed and patented by Spherix Inc. and manufactured and marketed under license by Denmark’s Arla Foods Ingredients, tagatose stands to gain additionally from its prebiotic functionality.
Arla describes tagatose as a “no-impact carb.” The company employed Sydney University's Glycemic Index Research Service (SUGiRS, www.glycemicindex.com
) to conduct clinical testing. Jennie Brand-Miller, possibly the world’s foremost researcher on glycemic index, demonstrated that, compared to glucose, which had glycemic and insulinemic responses of 100 percent, tagatose produced only 3 percent glycemic and insulinemic responses. And it’s just as sweet.
Pasco's Light and Tasty Less-Cal/Less-Carb frozen and ready-to-drink fruit juices were the second product in the world to be launched with tagatose. Unfortunately, the company went bankrupt. The new owners, Johanna Foods Inc., Flemington, N.J., is maintaining the line, which has 70 percent fewer carbs than regular fruit juices.
GTC Nutrition LLC (www.gtcnutrition.com
), Golden, Colo., is helping companies understand that careful formulation with a few key ingredients can transform even items like candy and cookies into foods with healthful benefits. GTC Nutrition provides xylitol and NutraFlora to create nutritious and rich tasting food products. More importantly, combining the two balances out xylitol’s cooling effect, while adding sweetness and providing zero effective carbohydrates and only 1.5 Kcal per gram.
For example, Nutballz Inc. (www.nutballz.com
), Monroe, Colo., which creates products for people with special dietary needs that can also be consumed by the average consumer, incorporates xylitol in cookies. “Our company is especially concerned with children's health, which is one of the reasons we use xylitol,” says Kyla Duffy, headnut (yes, that’s her title) at Nutballz. “While benefitting from the antibacterial properties of xylitol, kids generally can't even tell that our products are good for them. We achieved just the right amount of sweetness and the cooling sensation â which was cool for our target audience.”Method to makeover madness
Reformulating foods is tricky to begin with, and reformulation to replace or reduce sugar is one of the trickiest challenges. After all, sugar is used in product development not just because of its sweetness but because of its myriad functionalities and ability to cost-effectively produce an acceptable finished food with appealing taste and aroma.
Taking sugar out of a food product drastically changes its character; often the result is nowhere near the original product. For example, food product developers all over the world have been trying to develop sugar-free versions of cakes where aroma, appearance, texture and taste are critical. Quality cakes should have a rich baked aroma that starts out as the top notes when one bites into it. The characteristic baked aroma is the result of Maillard browning â the interaction of sugar with proteins â during baking to create the rich flavor notes.
Cakes owe their tender texture to the interaction of sugar with the fat during the creaming stage and the transformation of the matrix into a crumb with fine texture during baking. The golden brown crust results from the caramelization of sugar during baking for a rich crunch and a melt-in-your-mouth richness. Product developers find simple replacement of sugar with bulking agents such as maltodextrins and high-intensity sweeteners produces a dense gray-crumbed product that resembles door stops and which lacks the necessary aroma and tenderness.
|ADA defends sugars|
According to the American Dietetic Assn.: "The claim that nutritive sweeteners have caused an increase in chronic disease (e.g., obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dental carries and behavioral disorders) is not substantiated. Persons can include sugars in their diets and still consume a healthful diet."
The ADA counsels there are no "good foods" and "bad foods," just good diets and bad diets. In other words, all foods have a place in a balanced diet.
Sugar contributes to a number of quality attributes including bulk, texture, taste, crust color and aroma, sweetness and shelf life. Replacement of sugar therefore demands that all the functionalities be addressed to replicate the original food product authentically.
The product development approach of Hammer to create sugar-free candies for adults based on desserts is an excellent roadmap for food product developers seeking to replace some or all of the sugar in their products. Placing great importance on replicating the taste experience of popular desserts, Hammer mapped the various tastes and ingredients that went into each dessert.