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Consumer Restaurant & Menu Trends: The Clean Label Influence

Posted on:January 25, 2018

January 25, 2018–The 2017 Clean Label Conference’s tagline, “Sophisticated Solutions for Simplified Products,” expresses the industry’s challenge of simplifying products and also our belief that food science will deliver solutions. To meet consumer expectations, products must not only have great taste, value and nutrition, but increasingly possess attributes covered by the term “clean label.”

This year’s conference on March 28-29, in Itasca, Ill., provided 10 general session speakers. This 2017 Clean Label Conference Summary provides presentation highpoints. Presentations are also available for download at www.GlobalFoodForums.com/2017-Clean-Label/Store.

Be sure to also check out information on the upcoming 2018 Clean Label Conference!

Consumer Restaurant & Menu Trends: The Clean Label Influence

One interesting development is that certain restaurant and other foodservice outlets have recognized that consumers are associating certain “clean label” fats and sweeteners as healthy, such as butter, coconut oil, duck fat, honey, maple sugar and agave syrup. [For larger PDF of chart, click on image.]

Approximately 50% of U.S. consumers’ food expenditures are allocated to food eaten away from the home. The foodservice and restaurant industries also function as important trend leaders.

Lizzy Freier and Aimee Harvey, Managing Editors at Technomic, Inc., a foodservice research and consulting firm, discussed the impact of consumer clean label concerns on this important industry segment.

“Clean food is a topic that we are always talking about,” said Freier. Technomic regularly polls consumers and foodservice operators, and tracks menu trends “from field to fork,” she explained. Here are some research results.

Definitions of “healthy” are always changing, especially for younger consumers. And six out of 10 consumers equate “clean labels” with healthfulness.

“It’s not just physical, but also mental wellness…a sense of well-being tied to feeling good” that consumers associate with their food choices, Harvey continued. How do consumers define clean labels? Primarily, “clean” equates with a lack of preservatives and other additives, or food that is raw and natural. Other “clean” claims include “fresh,” “non-GMO” and “hormone-free.”

But are consumers willing to pay more for clean label foods?

On this question, they are split. Harvey cited Technomic’s “2016 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report,” saying, “43% said that they would be willing to pay more for ‘natural,’ but 37% would not. 39% would pay more for unprocessed foods, but 34% would not. 40% would pay more for ‘clean label,’ 29% would not.” Importantly, 53% believed that “natural” equated with being tastier, up from 45% that indicated the same in 2014.

Technomic polled foodservice operators on their perceptions of clean label expectations. “89% of operators acknowledged that ‘health and wellness’ was a leading trend, but definitions thereof were extremely broad and fuzzy,” said Lizzy Freier. “However, eight or more out of 10 agreed that clean labels will impact their purchase decisions in the future, taken to mean buying more locally produced foods that are chemical- or pesticide-free; produced under sustainable conditions; free of hormones or antibiotics; and the product of humane animal treatment.”

As result, many operators have been adding clean label designations to their menus: Clean label menu statements tracked by Technomic increased 19%, from 1,191 in 2015 to 1,419 in 2016. “Such claims are showing up in every menu category,” said Freier.

While “natural” and “organic” claims still predominate on menus, “the fastest growing clean menu claims between 2015- 2017 related to animal products, such as ‘sustainability caught’ (+1,100%), ‘no steroids’ (+250%); ‘humanely raised’ (+159%),
‘GMO-free’ (+138.7%) and ‘cage free’ (+32.3%),” said Freier. “Many people want to hear narratives about the animal products they eat.”

Even as restaurants and lodging venues experienced steadily increasing penetration of clean label claims, the prevalence of such claims actually decreased at university outlets. Freier suggested that for these venues, “clean label” claims have become mainstreamed expectations, an insight that could prove a leading indicator for other foodservice and food industry venues.

Harvey reviewed a list of major American restaurant chains that have recently emphasized clean label policies: “Panera finished its goal of creating a ‘100% clean menu;’ McDonald’s has removed some artificial preservatives; Pizza Hut has removed preservatives from meat and cheese; and Papa Murphy’s has begun serving antibiotic- free chicken,” she noted.

Others have announced plans for major clean label initiatives. Organic has pretty much gone mainstream, which puts the industry on notice to identify the next wave of clean label buzzwords that will bring customers to their doors. However, Harvey counseled caution: “Chipotle’s new Tasty Made venture sought to differentiate itself from the competition with responsibly raised, hormone- and antibiotic-free meat, only to discover that consumers were not willing to pay the premiums that such claims entailed.”

The presentation concluded with the notion that “you build trust through transparency,” and you do it by being open about providing compelling whole food and clean label narratives about your food, beverage and ingredient histories. “Most consumers say a number of clean label claims actually taste better,” said Harvey. Such should define the bottom line for any food-related business.

“Consumer & Restaurant Menu Trends: The Clean Label Influence,” Lizzy Freier and Aimee Harvey, Managing Editors at Technomic, Inc., lfreier@technomic.com and aharvey@technomic.com


Protein and Amino Acid Analysis in Relation to Nutrition Labeling and Protein Quality

Posted on:January 18, 2018

January 18, 2018–The Protein Trends & Technologies Seminars consist of a one day Pre-conference program: Business Strategies and a one-day Technical Program: Formulating with Proteins. Attendees can register for either one alone or for both for a cost savings.

The Technology Program: Formulating with Proteins focuses on the development of protein-enhanced foods, beverages and nutritional supplements. Core to the events are speakers presenting impartial information on protein food science, consumer and product trends, emerging nutritional benefits and regulatory issues.

This year’s conference took place on May 23-24, in Itasca, Illinois. The “2017 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar-Formulating with Proteins Summary” provides presentation highpoints and is available for download by clicking here.

Protein and Amino Acid Analysis in Relation to Nutrition Labeling and Protein Quality

The DIAAS method corrects some PDCAAS issues but, for now, the FDA is not replacing PDCAAS with DIAAS. [For larger PDF of chart, click on image.]

Protein serves structural, functional, physiological and metabolic roles in the body. The quality of dietary protein is largely determined by its amount of indispensable (essential) amino acids. Of the 20 amino acids present in protein, nine are indispensable and must be supplied by the diet.

Whey proteins are good sources of branched-chain amino acids, which are important for muscle synthesis. Cereals and grains are usually deficient in lysine; however, a mixture of pulses and grains can create a complete protein. Collagen lacks tryptophan and so is not a good-quality protein.

“Additional nutrients present in the protein food can make it more or less valuable in the diet. Animal foods often contain saturated fat and cholesterol, whereas plant foods are rich in dietary fiber and phytonutrients,” said Sneh Bhandari, Ph.D., Merieux NutriSciences, in his presentation titled “Protein and Amino Acid Analysis in Relation to Nutrition Labeling and Protein Quality.”

In the U.S., Protein Efficiency Ratio (PER) is the required method of calculating protein quality in foods for infants one year of age and younger, and PDCAAS is used for other foods. Canada recognizes PER as the preferred method but allows PDCAAs when PER is not available.

Bhandari explained that the Kjeldahl method of protein analysis is based on total nitrogen content and has been widely used and often referred to as crude protein. Originally, all proteins were estimated to contain 16% nitrogen, and protein was calculated by multiplying the nitrogen value by 6.25. However, in 1941, factors ranging from 5.3-6.38 were established for specific food matrices. The FAO allows the conversion factor of 6.25 to be used for all foods, but the FDA requires AOAC-approved methods using specific conversion factors to be used when calculating PDCAAS. Non-protein nitrogen, which often exists as soluble nitrogen, must be deducted from crude protein values to calculate true protein.

Another common protein analysis is the Combustion/Dumas method, which measures oxides resulting from nitrogen combustion. Other less common methods use reflectance or transmission NIR.

To analyze individual amino acids, the protein is hydrolyzed in 6M HCL for 18-24 hours at 110° C. Some amino acids are readily oxidized or damaged by acid hydrolysis. For example, tryptophan can be almost completely lost by acid hydrolysis, so an alkaline hydrolysis is performed instead. The sulphur-containing amino acids methionine and cystine degrade during acid hydrolysis and are protected by prior performic acid oxidation. Individual amino acids are commonly separated by ion-exchange chromatography, followed by post-column derivatization. Tryptophan can be analyzed by ion-exchange or reverse-phase HPLC methods.

In 1993, the FDA adopted PDCAAS as the official method to determine protein quality, Bhandari noted. The first step is to analyze crude protein and essential amino acid concentrations. Next, the amino acids’ values must be scored against a reference
pattern. The value for the limiting or lowest essential amino acid is the Amino Acid Score (AAS). The second step is to determine Protein Digestibility (PD). Human values are ideal, but rat values are often used. Finally, AAS is multiplied by PD, and values over 1.0 are rounded down to 1.0 (that is, when AAS is multiplied by PD and, if the resulting PDCAAS value is 1.05 or 1.8, it is rounded down to only 1.0).

There are several issues with the PDCAAS method, including the fact that fecal digestibility values are less accurate than ileal digestibility values. The Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score (DIAAS) method was recommended by FAO/WHO in 2013 to address these issues. The FDA agrees that DIAAS is a better method, but it declined to replace PDCAAS as the method for calculating nutrition labels in the 2016 final rule, because there was insufficient data to implement DIAAS. There are additional
guidelines for reporting protein values on the Nutrition Facts panel.

Consumers continue to demand healthy quality protein. Accurate analysis of protein content will enable food manufacturers to make appropriate protein claims, Bhandari concluded.

“Protein and Amino Acid Analysis in Relation to Nutrition Labeling and Protein Quality,” Sneh Bhandari, Ph.D., Merieux NutriSciences, sneh.bhandari@mxns.com


Strategies to Create Consumer-friendly Ingredient Statements

Posted on:January 8, 2018

Jan. 8, 2018--The 2017 Clean Label Conference’s tagline, “Sophisticated Solutions for Simplified Products,” expresses the industry’s challenge of simplifying products and also our belief that food science will deliver solutions. To meet consumer expectations, products must not only have great taste, value and nutrition, but increasingly possess attributes covered by the term “clean label.”

This year’s conference on March 28-29, in Itasca, Ill., provided 10 general session speakers. This 2017 Clean Label Conference Summary provides presentation highpoints. Presentations are also available for download at www.GlobalFoodForums.com/2017-Clean-Label/Store.

Be sure to also check out information on the upcoming 2018 Clean Label Conference!

“Strategies to Create Consumer-friendly Ingredient Statements”
Ronald Visschers, Ph.D., Business Line Manager, TNO food research

In order to mimic the texture of meat-based products, many complicated ingredients may end up being used in plant-based ones.

Challenged with the need to reformulate products with clean labels, manufacturers have the options to eliminate, modify or replace offending ingredients, said Ronald Visschers of Netherlands-based TNO. Visschers presented a systematic approach to clean label reformulation, accompanied by illustrative case-studies.

Though constantly evolving, clean label products today are characterized by short ingredient lists; consumer familiarity and acceptability of ingredients listed; a lack of chemical-sounding names; and low degrees of processing, said Visschers. To establish a rapid, systematic way of addressing evolving clean label trends, TNO created a “decision tree” approach that begins by looking at the body of regulations affecting ingredient systems.

“We collect all types of regulatory facts regarding the ingredients that we want to use in a clean label formulation,” said Visschers. “In some cases, it may be possible to simply rename ingredients instead of replacing them.”

After that comes alternative ingredient identification and screening. This requires modeling of food systems. “Replacing one ingredient for another is sometimes possible, but one needs to consider functionalities.” This requires the ability to test ingredients
variations or natural ingredient alternatives, as well as ingredient interactions.

Visschers provided two case studies undertaken by TNO and its industry partners that focused on the textural and other mouthfeel aspects of clean labels. The first was a gelatin-based “wine gummy” candy. “Most consumer concerns regarding gelatin pertain to its animal origin. Especially in Europe, people still remember the BSE scare, and there are also vegetarians to consider: Plant ingredients are more appealing to a growing segment of consumers,” said Visschers.

“Foods are highly complex materials,” he continued. In order to replace gelatin in gummy confections, one needs to translate mouthfeel properties into measurable physical parameters. Gelatin contributes a wide range of properties to gummy candies,
including chewability, flavor release and “longness.” These must be translated into an array of physical measurements, including for stiffness, toughness, tearing, melting and glassy-state transition properties.

Working with a confectionery manufacturer, TNO developed a model “that allows us to understand how gelatins themselves change with aging and composition, and to quickly identify alternative ingredients with the same characteristics.”

The next example given involved meat analogues, which have become increasing popular in the Netherlands. A large number of consumers are “very keen on finding meat look-alikes made from lupine, soy, insect or other proteins,” explained Visschers. “It’s not just vegetarians, but also ‘flexitarians,’ that actively seek out such products.”

Animal proteins contribute a very unique “bite,” so meat analogues often end up with very long and complicated ingredient lists trying to simulate animal protein textures.
TNO and its partners again developed a model to predict ingredient interactions in meat analogues: They developed a food “micro” model to study actual ingredient interactions and quantify physical and sensory properties using textural analysis and sensory panel data.

For ham and sausage, chewing consistency is very important. TNO developed a test to simulate chewing using a mechanical plunger. This allowed evaluation of different proteins for textural consistency under simulated chewing conditions. “We found that
egg albumin, for example, forms a fine-stranded gel that exhibits a high water-holding capacity under stress, which translates into good chewiness.”

If a protein gel loses water while being chewed, it becomes dry and inedible. The researchers also evaluated the role of different salts on gel characteristics. Shifting from calcium salts to magnesium salts caused soy proteins to aggregate (denature) more
readily, affecting chewiness properties. By interplaying the gelation and denaturation characteristics of different proteins and salt adjuncts, chewiness characteristics could be optimized resulting in (for example) improved vegetarian burgers.

In conclusion, said Visschers, clean label formulation is not a straightforward process, as most ingredients have multifunctional roles in foods. “Development of models that translate important sensory characteristics into physical attributes allows us to systematically identify clean ingredient alternatives.”

“Strategies to Create Consumer-Friendly Ingredient Statements,” Ronald Visschers, Ph.D., TNO, ronald.visschers@tno.nl

 

 


Proteins for Health: Issues, Updates and Opportunities

Posted on:December 27, 2017

December 27, 2017— The Protein Trends & Technologies Seminars consist of a one day Pre-conference program: Business Strategies and a one-day Technical Program: Formulating with Proteins. Attendees can register for either one alone or for both for a cost savings.

The Technology Program: Formulating with Proteins focuses on the development of protein-enhanced foods, beverages and nutritional supplements. Core to the events are speakers presenting impartial information on protein food science, consumer and product trends, emerging nutritional benefits and regulatory issues.

This year’s conference took place on May 23-24, in Itasca, Illinois. The “2017 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar-Formulating with Proteins Summary” provides presentation highpoints and is available for download by clicking here.

Proteins for Health: Issues, Updates and Opportunities

Percent Daily Values (%DV) on food and beverage packaging require a PDCAAS value of 1.0 if a protein claim will be made. However, unless highly processed, plant proteins contribute lower quantity and availability of essential amino acid values to diets than do animal proteins. [For larger version of chart, click on image.] Source: 2017 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar

University of Minnesota nutrition and food science Professor Joanne Slavin addressed the comparative qualities of plant and animal proteins by highlighting some stark implications for product developers and vegans.

“The most important macronutrient that we have in our diet is protein,” she began. “In the end, fats and carbohydrates are just calories. Proteins, however, are comprised of 20 amino acids, nine of which cannot be manufactured by a healthy adult body and are, therefore, essential nutrients.”

With protein, therefore, it isn’t just a question of quantity, but also quality and availability. This is where Slavin anticipates challenges on the food and beverage horizon.

So…what do proteins do? They provide the building blocks for tissues, balance body fluids, control acidity, are integral to the immune function, produce hormones and enzymes, manage gluconeogenesis, deliver energy and signal satiety. “Whereas I can survive for a long time without most nutrients, the only two nutrients that I absolutely need in order to survive are water and protein,” Slavin said.

“We can easily calculate how much protein people need,” she added. “We know that protein needs increase during periods of growth, pregnancy and lactation. We also know that protein requirements begin to decrease after age 25.” “The Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) for protein intake is 10-35% of calories,” continued Slavin. Given that the Daily Value for protein is generally constant for individuals, reduced-calorie diets increase the required proportion of protein and vice versa. And, unless one has a kidney malfunction, “there is no upper limit for protein consumption, other than cost.”

However, individual protein intake requirements depend heavily on protein composition: A protein low in essential amino acids necessitates a higher level of intake in order to fulfill the body’s essential amino acid demand. Whereas animal proteins (eggs, milk, meat, seafood) reflect the perfect amino acid balance for humans, plant proteins do not. In addition, plant proteins are not as readily available nutritionally.

So, how to determine proteins? The FDA requires use of the Protein Digestibility-Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) analysis for products other than for infants. It is, however, expensive and currently requires animal sacrifice (a “no-no” for many consumers).

“The only measure of protein efficiency allowed on a product label is the % Daily Value (%DV), but you must have a PDCAAS value of 1.0 before you can list your product’s %DV for protein,” stressed Slavin. This is difficult to achieve using plant proteins.

When humans lack the essential amino acids whereby to build new protein, our bodies break down existing proteins (e.g., muscle) in order to construct the “more important” proteins, explained Slavin. Consequently, a diet consisting of an adequate intake of protein can still be deficient in essential amino acids, leading to tissue breakdown.

“When people switch from animal to plant protein, it becomes more challenging,” cautions Slavin. “I think that we are going to see increasing numbers of consumers on both low-quantity, low-quality protein diets, especially among adolescent females.” Vegans take note!

The PDCASS value of plant proteins can be improved through blending and/or refining. Soy protein isolates have a PDCAAS value close to 1.0, “but only because ingredient manufacturers manufacture them that way. The only way to improve plant protein quality is by processing it…which goes against current consumer food trends favoring minimally processed whole foods.”

To conclude, even though total or average protein intakes may seem adequate, protein quality and availability must also be factored into food choices. Protein is an essential nutrient, and reduced-calorie diets, though appropriate, must necessarily contain a higher proportion of protein in order to provide essential amino acids. As consumers move from away from animal proteins toward plant proteins, they should consider how protein quantity, quality and availability affect their nutritional status.

“Eventually, consumers will discover these linkages, and they may feel misled; hopefully, it will also force the FDA to revisit its protein labeling rule requiring a PDCAAS level of 1.0 before protein %DV can be listed on packages,” she said. This will help clarify  how good a source of protein the product actually is.

“Proteins for Health: Issues, Updates and Opportunities,” Joanne Slavin, Ph.D., University of Minnesota Dept. of Food Science and Nutrition, jslavin@umn.edu

 


Technical Insights into Flavoring Use and the Impact of Clean Labels

Posted on:December 20, 2017

December 20, 2017–The 2017 Clean Label Conference’s tagline, “Sophisticated Solutions for Simplified Products,” expresses the industry’s challenge of simplifying products and also our belief that food science will deliver solutions. To meet consumer expectations, products must not only have great taste, value and nutrition, but increasingly possess attributes covered by the term “clean label.”

This year’s conference on March 28-29, in Itasca, Ill., provided 10 general session speakers. This 2017 Clean Label Conference Summary provides presentation highpoints. Presentations are also available for download at www.GlobalFoodForums.com/2017-Clean-Label/Store.

Be sure to also check out information on the upcoming 2018 Clean Label Conference!

Insights into Flavoring Use and the Impact of Clean Labels

Choosing the appropriate all-natural flavor is difficult for some applications. Variability in compounds derived from natural sources often increases difficulty in controlling the proper level of flavoring to use. Achieving the desired flavor intensity also is challenging, since the number of available ingredient tools is restricted. Additionally, botanicals and minerals that are added to achieve label claims can wreak havoc with the flavor system. “They will not only interact with the flavor, but sometimes contribute off-flavors, like chalkiness or bitterness,” McGorrin said.

The paradox of flavor is that its presence is tiny in the total composition of foods, yet it is a primary driver of consumer acceptance. Professor Robert J. McGorrin, Oregon State University, explained that moreover, flavor is only about 20% taste, while aroma accounts for 80%. Aromas must be volatile. Most are fat-soluble. Roughly 8,000 known aroma chemicals have been identified. “They are always organic molecules,” McGorrin said. “They contain carbon, and usually in combination with oxygen, nitrogen and/or sulfur. We perceive them two ways: by smell through the nose, ortho-nasally; and through the back of the mouth, retro-nasally.” That’s why food doesn’t taste good when a head cold’s congestion blocks the back sinus passages.

Tastants are non-volatile. They are water-soluble. There are five categories: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami. Chemesthesis is the third aspect of flavor. It’s a skin response in the mouth to chemical irritation. Sensations such as pepper burn or menthol cooling effects are examples.

Any natural flavor can contain 200-1,000 volatile constituents. “Those individual constituents are present anywhere from parts per million to parts per trillion,” he continued. All the aroma chemicals that nature provides have very different boiling points and polarities; and they differ in how they interact with the olfactory receptors in our nose and how we sensate these different chemicals.

Labeling can be a quagmire, both on the bulk flavor label of the container from a supplier and in the finished product ingredient declaration for the consumer. For example, there has been much discussion around propylene glycol, which is used as solvent in flavorings. In the U.S., a food manufacturer does not have to list it on the label, because it is used in such small quantities. However, for the purposes of transparency, often considered an important aspect of a clean label, a company may choose to list it as part of the ingredient legend.

When it comes to declaring the presence of a natural flavor, if all the flavor materials are from the named fruit, it may be called by its name. For example, “natural strawberry flavor” may be used if all components are naturally derived from strawberries. If the
flavoring contains some quantity of the named flavor, but the rest of the flavor ingredients are natural but not from the named fruit, it would be labeled “natural strawberry flavor WONF” (with other natural flavors). “Natural strawberry-type flavor” indicates that the flavor portion is natural, and the aroma resembles the name, but it does not contain any flavor ingredients from the named fruit (i.e., strawberries). “Natural and artificial strawberry flavor” contains both natural and artificial ingredients that simulate, resemble or reinforce the named flavor. Non-flavor ingredients, such as an added carrier or color, do not affect the flavor name.

Creating globally compliant flavors has its own challenges, due to differences in international standards. Different countries have different approaches. Safety, labeling and intellectual property issues all come into play. “While small strides have been made to harmonize flavor regulations globally, there is still a long way to go,” he pointed out.

Clean labels are not based on legislation. The perception of clean labeling is consumer-driven, so McGorrin recommends using words that give the impression of real foods. He closed with two examples. The food industry recognizes oleoresin black pepper as a natural ingredient. Black pepper extract is more consumer- friendly. Consumers may not know what stevia is, but they may respond more favorably to whole-leaf stevia extract.
“Insights into Flavoring Use and the Impact of Clean Labels,” Robert J. McGorrin, Ph.D., Department Head and Jacobs-Root Professor, Food Science & Technology, Oregon State University, robert.mcgorrin@oregonstate.edu

 

 


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