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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

 

 


Protein Use & Consumer Demands for Healthy Foods

Posted on:December 12, 2017

December 12, 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.

 

Body in Tune: How Consumer Demand for Healthier Food Impacts Protein Use in Foods & Beverages

Dairy-based protein continues to be the strongest and fastest growing ingredient in sports nutrition, foods for babies and toddlers, and cereals. Plant proteins are highest in the cereal category but low in the sports nutrition category. [For larger PDF version of chart, click on image.]

Consumers are bringing nutrient-dense foods into their diets based on what they think will make them healthier. Kara Nielsen, Innova Market Insights, sees protein as a driving force in these product purchases. This is reflected in launches tracked from 2015-2016.

In her 2017 Protein Trends & Technology Conference-Formulating with Proteins presentation titled “Body in Tune: How Consumer Demand for Healthier Food Impacts Protein Use in Foods & Beverages,” Nielson started by saying that the growth of the protein market is led by sports nutrition. Protein fits into the notion of an active lifestyle. Formats and positioning are expanding, with the highest increase in sports bars (17%), sports powders (12%) and ready-to-drink categories (11%), as people look for more convenience and accessibility.

Specificity is also in demand. “We now have targeted products that focus on every moment and every bodily need,” observed Nielsen. This includes pre-workout, which concentrates on energy and muscle-building; intra-workout for a boost to finish; and finally, the recovery side. Different protein ingredients are being marketed as key to each one of these stages.

With more people participating in sporty activities, expansion is targeting more consumer segments. Niche products are positioned to attract consumers with an active lifestyle, or they may be designed for a certain demographic, such as sex or age group. Positioning is also spreading beyond athletic categories.

“Sports nutrition is becoming more normalized,” she continued, with 17% more product launches with a snacking claim, and in innovative formats and culinary flavors. The category is migrating into more mainstream foods formats, such as nut butters, bagels and waffles. Protein-enriched snacks are ideally positioned, because they often have other healthful benefits that are less common in other snacks. Additional health claims may include gluten-free, high-fiber or low-fat.

“The protein claim has moved out quickly over a number of years into every aisle of the grocery store,” Nielsen said. Dairy is experiencing the largest growth of products featuring sport-related claims (up 46% in 2016 vs. 2015). Ready meals saw a 32% increase with the movement of protein pulses into pasta and other products with reduced carbohydrates. Cereal products rose 24%.

Specialization continues with products targeted for seniors or children; for on-the-go breakfast or lunch; and for weight management and satiety. Yet protein claims also have broad appeal as part of an everyday lifestyle. Product labels may boast protein for health and convenience. Some products are directed to certain times of the day—from breakfast to fuel the morning to a mid-afternoon energy boost.

Protein-rich ingredients also have a place in indulgent treats. A Mars bar that is fortified with 19g protein may be a guilt-free choice over an ordinary Mars bar. Similarly, high-protein frozen yogurt or chocolate pudding may be perceived as a healthier option.
Consumers not only want to know the amount of protein; they are also paying more attention to the source of protein. They are looking for identification of the protein and to understand the contents of a protein blend.

Nielsen foresees more formulations with premium ingredients and deeper interest in amino acids, as the sports nutrition category evolves. Continued expansion into mainstream aisles will bring more food-like products in convenient formats targeted for consumer segments.

For consumers who seek to get their bodies in tune with personalized protein, she recommends enhancing products with real food
ingredients. “Plant-based protein will continue to grow. It’s part of our ethos right now in thinking, whether it’s environmental (animal welfare), or health and nutrition (reducing cholesterol).” There are a lot of different reasons for choosing plant-based products. She believes catering to that need is important.

With protein claims increasingly driving activity across categories, one wonders when the trend might stall. “As someone who talks about trends, I keep thinking we’ve hit ‘peak protein.’ It doesn’t seem like we’re quite there,” Nielsen said.

“Body in Tune: How Consumer Demand for Healthier Food Impacts Protein Use in Foods & Beverages,” Kara Nielsen, Innova Market Insights, Netherlands, kara@innovami.com

 


Selecting Natural Sweeteners: Products, Properties and Performance

Posted on:December 6, 2017

December 7, 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!

Generationally speaking, “Millennials are driving consumer clean label expectations deep into the sweetener category,” said Melanie Goulson, General Manager and Principal Scientist at Merlin Development, in her 2017 Sweeteners Systems Conference presentation.

Natural sweeteners have been under sustained scrutiny, as consumers of all ages are confronted with news headlines pinning sweetener consumption as an underlying cause behind global obesity, diabetes and circulatory diseases. In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that adults and children reduce “free sugar” consumption (i.e., sugars added to foods) to less than 10% of total calories consumed, but said “5% would be even better.” That same year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA) published its 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines—also recommending sugar consumption be reduced to less than 10% of calories per day. And, as of July 2018, U.S. food and beverage nutritional label panels might need to distinguish between naturally present sugars and “added sugars.” [Editor’s note: This deadline might be extended, pending review by the new administration.]

“Given that there exists no legal definition for ‘clean label,’much is open to consumer interpretation,” explained Goulson. “Here is my own version of a clean label lexicon: simple, familiar, natural, organic, local, whole, fresh, real, sustainable, transparent, trustworthy, authentic, ethical, wholesome, safe, healthy and nutritious.”

Goulson believes consumer expectations of sweeteners are akin to the concept of nutrient density: Consumers want sweeteners that offer some redeeming value along with the calories—a“sweetener-plus” halo. For example, coconut palm sugar is loaded with vitamins and minerals, and it comes with a relatively low glycemic index. Honey comes loaded with amino acids, minerals and pollen; maple syrup with minerals, vitamins and polyphenolic antioxidants; black strap molasses is high in vitamins B6 and K; while malt syrup extract’s antioxidants come with “impressively high ORAC value (a measure of antioxidant activity).”

According to data provided by one supplier, the majority of consumers perceive sucrose, “raw sugar,” molasses and monk fruit as “all natural.” According to 2014 Mintel data, honey, coconut palm sugar and agave lead the pack, while saccharine, aspartame and high-fructose corn syrup trail, in terms of consumer “health halos,” she said.

Goulson divided natural sweeteners into four categories:
1. Sugar syrups (e.g., honey, agave, tapioca syrup, yacon syrup)
2. Less-refined sugars (e.g., coconut palm sugar, turbinado, demerara,
rapidura, jaggery, sucanat)
3. Zero-calorie/high-potency (stevia leaf and monk fruit extracts)
4. Low-/No-calorie sugar alcohols (erythritol, xylitol)

Yacon syrups are derived from an Andean root that has been promoted for alleged weight-loss and other nutraceutical benefits. Jaggery is a pressed cake made of date palm, coconut palm, or sugar cane sugar crystals and molasses: It is popular in Southern Asia and Africa. Muscovado sugar is a sticky mixture of sugar cane sugar and molasses. Rapidura, turbinado and demerara are first-press cane sugars with varying levels of residual molasses.

Sugars and sugar syrups vary significantly in their sucrose, fructose, glucose, maltose and maltotriose composition, which will affect their functionality.

The two natural, zero-calorie, high-potency sweeteners approved in the U.S. are stevia and monk fruit extracts. Steviol glycosides are 200-250 times sweeter than sucrose, while monk fruit (melon) juice is about 20 times sweeter than other fruit juices; its active components, mogrosides, are about 200 times as sweet as sucrose. However, these ingredients typically need to be paired with bulking agents, which may involve additional considerations, (e.g., naturally sweetened or all-natural; low- vs. no-calorie; functionality, taste, ingredient labeling and cost).

In summation, concluded Goulson: “The clean label movement is reaching deep into the sweetener space, and there exist many consumer-friendly ingredient choices. Expect consumers to carefully examine the new nutritional labels as they relate to sugar and to actively seek natural sweeteners packaged with bonus nutrients.”

“Selecting Natural Sweeteners: Products, Properties and Performance,” Melanie Goulson, MSc, General Manager & Principal Scientist, Merlin Development and Adjunct Professor, St. Catherine University, mgoulson@merlin.com 

 

 


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