Replacement Ingredients Ease Concerns of Worried Consumers

For every ingredient challenged by consumers, ingredient suppliers have an alternative.

By Mark Anthony, Ph.D., Technical Editor

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Ever since a Missouri food factory worker won a $20 million lawsuit in 2004, diacetyl has been disappearing from food products. Initially, it was just an issue for workers within food plants: several plaintiffs alleged that diacetyl, one of several flavor substances used in the butter flavoring especially for microwave popcorn, caused serious lung injuries. But a year ago there was suspicion that diacetyl also could be liberated in the microwave popping of the popcorn, which caused concern among consumers.
Edlong Dairy Flavors, Elk Grove Village, Ill., was among the first ingredient companies to develop a replacement for diacetyl. Its Ed-Vantage line of dairy flavors was developed with technology that eliminates the need for added diacetyl, but still provides the mouthfeel, aroma and buttery flavor that are characteristic of diacetyl-containing products.

Shortly thereafter, Wild Flavors, introduced natural and artificial butter flavors also free from added diacetyl. DSM Food Specialties, Delft, Netherlands, developed PreventASe as a processing aid for acrylamide mitigation. Then Indianapolis-based Weaver Popcorn Co. rolled out the first microwave popcorn to eliminate diacetyl: Pop Weaver.


Note to Marketing

There are benign and sometimes healthful alternatives being developed for every ingredient consumers may find objectionable. Nearly any food can be reinvented,
opening the opportunity for the manufacturer to appeal to a wider audience.
Simply replacing an ingredient on consumers’ “hit lists” will better position your product. Going one step further and finding a “healthy” replacement may put you above the competition.

Fretting fat, shunning salt

For many consumers, lowering fat, especially saturated fats, is a major concern. With recent evidence linking dairy to successful weight control, low-fat dairy products are increasing in popularity.

“Dairy proteins can replace some of the stabilizers used in cultured dairy beverages to produce a smoothie with a cleaner label,” says Sharon Gerdes, senior account manager at Dairy Management Inc., Rosemont, Ill. Both whey protein concentrate (WPC) and milk protein concentrate (MPC) boost nutrition in smoothies by adding protein and calcium.

MPC adds smooth texture and mouthfeel to products, while building body and texture. “The domestic supply of MPC is growing,” notes Gerdes. “Product formulators can choose from ingredients with varying protein levels from 42 to 80 percent, enabling them to tailor a product with higher protein levels and fewer stabilizers.

“Dairy proteins have emulsification properties and can also be used to reduce the fat in products like ice cream. Many of the newer churn-style, reduced-fat ice creams use WPC. DMI staff can assist food formulators who want to incorporate dairy proteins into their formulas,” says Gerdes.

Other hit list ingredients may not be so clear-cut. For example, sodium reduction is on the minds of many consumers, but achieving it at the expense of taste is not so popular. Since sodium appears in many food ingredients besides salt, and its presence serves functions other than taste, consumers may not be aware of its source. But these other sources of sodium may be easy means of reducing sodium without compromising taste.

The issue of sodium in processed foods gained renewed interest during FDA hearings last fall when the Center for Science in the Public Interest initiated a petition to remove sodium from the GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list, to regulate sodium as a food additive and to set new limits on sodium content in processed foods. This initiative and its goals are supported and endorsed by the American Medical Assn., American Nurses Assn., American Public Health Assn., American College of Preventive Medicine and the International Society on Hypertension in Blacks.

Sodium is an essential nutrient when consumed in moderation, but the American Heart Assn. recommends limiting intake of sodium to 2,300mg per day, the amount in a single teaspoon of salt. But salt intake in the developed world has reached far beyond recommended levels, much of it due to processed foods. Today it is estimated that about 10 percent of our sodium is found naturally in food, 10 percent comes from direct addition by the consumer and 75 percent of sodium intake derives from the consumption of processed foods where the levels are not readily apparent to the consumer.

“The primary barrier to a successful sodium reduction solution is that no single ingredient can be used to replace the functionality of salt in food,” says Peter Kempe, president of DSM Food Specialties USA Inc., Parsippany, N.J. “Ingredient suppliers must develop new technologies that help food manufacturers find innovative solutions to the challenge of reducing the sodium content of processed foods. We know the food industry takes this issue very seriously and we partner regularly with major food manufacturers to help them achieve their internal sodium reduction targets,” adds Kempe.

One of DSM’s solutions is yeast extracts, which allow reductions in sodium levels with no adverse effect on taste and minimal alteration of the food manufacturing processes. Maxarome yeast extracts give products balance and umami taste sensation, while accelerating flavor intensity and release. Adding Maxarome to a food product allows reduction of sodium content 25-50 percent without compromising palatability, mouthfeel, organoleptic structure or taste authenticity.

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