Back to the Future in Baking: Clean Label Bakery Formulations

Posted on:November 11, 2015

November 11, 2015–Global Food Forums, Inc. — The following is an excerpt from the “2015 Clean Label Report,” sponsored by Loders Croklaan, RiceBran Technologies and SunOpta. 

David Busken on formulating for clean label baked goods.

By approaching formulation with a sense of openness and ingenuity, contemporary bakers can find clean label solutions, such as the savvy adjustment of sugar and flour ratios, or utilizing coconut oil’s capacity to improve the eating quality of cookies that would otherwise lean on trans fats.

When it comes to formulating clean label baked goods, what’s old really is new again, said David Busken, Manager of R&D, Oak State Products, Inc. In preparation for his talk, Busken reviewed bakery formulations dating back decades and marveled at how “clean” those formulations were as recently as 30-40 years ago.

So, if the bakers of yesteryear could create breads, cakes and cookies using a relatively label-friendly toolkit, it stands to reason that today’s bakers could do the same.

Acknowledging that the precise outlines of a “clean” bakery ingredient remain fuzzy, Busken cut to the chase by sharing his own definition—it has a familiar name; it’s undergone minimal processing—and noting that many traditional bakery staples not only fit this bill but provide essential functionality, besides. The trick, he said, lies in understanding which ingredients are available, knowing where to find them and figuring out how to use them.

As a case in point, he relayed an anecdote from the 1940s. Yeast-raised donuts were notorious for drying out within hours of production. At some point, someone had the insight to mix mashed potatoes into the dough, hoping that the moist-and-fluffy side dish might improve the donuts’ texture. It both extended their shelflife from hours to days and “made an industry,” Busken said.

Finding clean label solutions is easier when building a baked good from scratch, Busken said. Cleaning up existing formulations is by far the heavier lift, if for no other reason than consumers’ established expectations for taste, texture and shelflife. (And don’t disregard the implications reformulation might have on production, packaging, supply chains and more; if a clean label cookie spreads
more than its predecessor, for example, it may not fit into its tray, Busken pointed out.)

He walked the audience through several examples of how pre-existing ingredients, not to mention strategic tweaks to processing and handling, can combine to form clean label baked goods as hedonically appealing as they are operationally friendly.

Here are just a few of the cases he discussed:
High-ratio layer cakes. Such cakes—named for their high ratio of sugar to flour—are among the more challenging bakery products to “clean,” because they depend on emulsifiers and chlorine-bleached flour for their fine grain and softness, Busken said. His clean-up suggestions: Use a heat-treated flour instead of a bleached one; replace “chemical-sounding” emulsifiers, like PGME (propylene glycol and mono-esters) with cleaner options, like mono- and diglycerides (although not all may consider these two an option) and lecithin; and adjust the sugar-to-flour ratio downward—say, to 115-120%.

Muffins, quick breads and Bundt cakes. Because these products are usually 35% oil, 30% whole egg and 20% water, Busken said, they tend to remain moist on their own. But emulsifiers like sorbitan monostearate still often show up to produce a finer grain, moister texture and longer shelflife. Here again, hydrated mono- and diglycerides and lecithin can achieve similar results without dirtying up a label. What’s more, Busken added, “I’ve done quite a bit of work on this; just get your sugar and flour ratio right and you can do that from scratch fairly easily.”

Brownies and bars. Chewy brownies and bars often rely on emulsifiers for their characteristic moistness. But Busken said that by simply manipulating both the levels and types of sugars and fats in the formulation, “you can get any kind of brownie you want with any kind of shelflife.” He pointed out that fats lower in saturates will produce the right density, while noting that the key with sweetener
choice is controlling how quickly the sugars crystallize, as well as how quickly the starch structure recrystallizes.

Crisp and soft cookies. Making a clean label, crisp cookie is a snap, but keeping a cookie soft for a six-to eight-month shelflife without using “chemicals” takes more effort. Once more, “crystallization control is your ally.” Syrups made from oats, tapioca, brown rice and agave have risen to the challenge, as have the sugars fructose, maltose and invert brown sugar, Busken said. And, to hold onto water in the finished product, he advised looking into label-friendly gums and hydrocolloids.

By paying attention to fermentation times and temperatures, the heat source in the oven or even how much agitation a pan of rolls receives as it proofs, bakers can create products with simpler, more familiar ingredients. It might sound old-fashioned, but in a clean label environment, that’s downright cutting edge.

David Busken, Manager of R&D, Oak State Products, Inc.,, 1-815-853-4348,

Answering the Challenge: Label-friendly Emulsifiers and Surfactants

Posted on:October 29, 2015
Peter Wilde, 2015 Clean Label Conference, bile salts as emulsifiers chart

Bile salts, which are currently found in dietary supplements, are excellent emulsifiers and may have potential for food use. (Click on image for larger version of the chart.)

October 29, 2015–Global Food Forums, Inc. — The following is an excerpt from the “2015 Clean Label Report,” sponsored by Loders Croklaan, RiceBran Technologies and SunOpta.

Researchers have explored a wide variety of natural, clean label emulsifiers and surfactants.

“Unfortunately, industry faces significant hurdles to commercialization for some of these products. Current natural emulsifiers will probably never match traditional emulsifiers for performance, and some novel emulsifiers may be clean label but may not be appealing to consumers,” said Professor Peter J. Wilde, Ph.D., Institute of Food Research.

All emulsifiers contain a hydrophobic or fatty acid component which likes the oil phase, and a hydrophilic or polar head which likes the water phase. Emulsifiers are ranked on an HLB scale from 1-20. A rating of 1 is given to a very oil-soluble or hydrophobic emulsifier, while a rating of 20 indicates a very water-soluble or hydrophilic emulsifier. Traditional natural food emulsifiers include egg yolk and soy lecithin, both rich in phospholipids.

Synthetic emulsifiers include mono- and diglycerides, which are derived from naturally occurring fatty acids that have been processed to control HLB and functionality, and also esters of monoglycerides. Polysorbates and sucrose esters are synthetic ingredients
with a large polar head group, making them very effective surfactants, said Wilde.

Food products where emulsification is important include mayonnaise, margarine, chocolate, bread, meats, ice cream and whipping cream. Wilde gave numerous examples of potential natural emulsifiers and surfactants.

Quillaja extract, derived from the bark of the soapbark, is rich in saponin, a natural surfactant.
Bile salts, typically derived from ox bile and sold as dietary supplements, show potential as food emulsifiers. (See chart)
Lipoproteins are natural oil bodies in plants and animal tissues, such as egg yolk, soy or sunflower. When concentrated, they create highly stable and energy-efficient emulsifiers.
Chloroplasts are plant membranes that are packed with galactolipids. These are good emulsifiers; can inhibit fat digestion; and have been linked with foam stability in bread. Unfortunately, they are difficult to process.
Hydrophobins are secreted by filamentous fungi and form a strong film on the surface of a bubble. They can provide excellent long-term stability of bubbles in ice cream and are
responsible for gushing in beer.
Cuckoospit froth, an incredibly stable foam secreted by froghopper insects, is a natural glycoprotein, but is not necessarily label-friendly.
Tannins derived from grape seed and apple show emulsifying and antioxidant properties.
Lactic acid bacteria, such as Lactobacillus pentosus, produce efficient biosurfactants and bioemulsifiers.
Dairy proteins, including both whey protein and casein protein, contain hydrophobic and hydrophilic groups. They form an elastic interface and find use as whipping agents.
Hydrophobins are a group of proteins that can create elastic interfaces which improve mouthfeel in low-fat products and create the sensory perception of a higher-fat product.
Natural carbohydrates, such as gum Arabic and sugar beet pectin, have both protein and carbohydrate components and are popular for stabilizing flavor oils.
Small starch granules, such as quinoa and rice, can be modified to form stable emulsions. These rely on a process called Pickering stabilization to create stable droplets.

There is significant potential in process modification, enzymes and bacteria to alter the functionality of some clean label alternatives. One approach is to modify the natural molecules that already exist in the food. For example, lipid bodies in pumpkin seed are already in emulsified form, and industry is looking at ways to exploit these oil bodies in situ. Another approach is to use processing aids, such as lipases which alter the lipid profile of natural grains, thus improving crumb structure in baked products. Many of these novel ingredients and approaches show strong promise for commercialization.
Peter Wilde, Ph.D., Institute for Food Research,,, +44 (0) 1603 255 000



Clean Label Antimicrobials: How to Find Them?

Posted on:October 16, 2015

Schuren-photo-to-post-on-blogOctober 16, 2015–Global Food Forums, Inc. — The following is an excerpt from the “2015 Clean Label Report,” sponsored by Loders Croklaan, RiceBran Technologies and SunOpta.

There is a market demand for fresh products with extended shelflife. TNO, the Netherlands-based company, has made a commitment to identify and isolate antimicrobial compounds from a variety of sources as part of their commitment to help find “clean
label” alternatives for the food processing industry, said Frank Schuren, Ph.D., Senior Scientist Microbiology, TNO Microbiology & Systems Biology.

It is well-known that many herbs and spices have antimicrobial activity. However, research on these properties is lacking, and, where it has been done, the research tends to focus on food pathogens—not spoilage organisms, such as yeasts and molds.

TNO has conducted screening studies that have not only looked at the antimicrobial properties of a wide range of spices, but looked at variables essential to their functionality in food systems, such as the effects of pH and concentration. Schuren noted that
antimicrobial compounds that adversely affect desirable qualities, such as flavor, aroma or color, simply would not be accepted in the marketplace.

The challenge is not only to determine which spices and herbs have antimicrobial properties, but to look at how they perform in food systems alone or in combination with other products. The objective is to find synergies and interactions of compounds that
will provide significant inhibitory effects, while having less impact on a food’s sensory quality.

This has spurred the investigation of novel approaches to locate effective, usable antimicrobials from nature. One tool adopted by TNO is the use of bacterial cells as a biosensor and, thus, as a predictive tool. The company has established that gene expression in cells correlates with external stress factors, like temperature and
pH. It has used this to better understand cell behavior in food processing environments.

The research process employed first identifies model spoilage strains, then sequences a strain’s genome. Analytical tools, such as microarrays and next-generation sequencing, are then used to assess specific stress responses. This helps to identify biomarkers
that can be used in screening approaches to look for ingredients with desired effects. For example, model spoilage strains may then be exposed to different herbs and spices, or their extracts, to clearly identify microbial activity incorporating variables such as acidity and concentration.

One application is to look at different spoilage organisms in the food processing environment and evaluate how these might be controlled. Utilizing environmental sampling techniques, such as air sampling, and subjecting these samples to taxonomic profiling of the microbial communities, TNO has identified the different organisms found in such environments, Schuren reported. By sequencing isolates, they have the capability of identifying bacterial flora, fungi, eukaryotes and other organisms.

Up to 20 million sequences and more than 400 samples may be evaluated in a single run. Understanding the microbial flora in an environment allows the implementation of targeted solutions that are sustainable. It also provides users with the ability to reduce dependence on chemicals traditionally used for cleaning and sanitizing.

Another function is to expand the application of microbial fermentations. Fermentation has been an integral part of food preservation for thousands of years and is responsible for commercial products, such as wine, beer, cheese, bread and many others. The goal is to take these processes further and utilize fermentation technologies to produce more foods that taste good but can be marketed with a clean label.

Frank Schuren, Ph.D., Senior Scientist Microbiology, TNO Microbiology & Systems Biology,

Antioxidant Potential of Plant-based Food Ingredients

Posted on:October 9, 2015
2015 Clean Label Conference, Jin Ji, PhD, Brunswick Laboratories, Chart on antioxidants and radical source in vegetables.

The original ORAC assay only measures antioxidant capability of a material against the peroxyl free radical. ORAC 5.0 adds four additional free radical values to that of peroxyl, which results in a higher ORAC value that does not always correlate with the traditional ORAC value. Click on image for larger version of this chart. 

–October 9, 2015–Global Food Forums, Inc. — The following is an excerpt from the “2015 Clean Label Report,” sponsored by Loders Croklaan, RiceBran Technologies and SunOpta.

Antioxidants are a group of molecules, abundant in plant foods, with unique chemical structures that allow them to scavenge free radicals. Although antioxidants have been used in the food industry since the 1800s, their popularity soared around 2000, as scientists began to understand the role of free radicals in creating oxidative stress and how that stress acerbated chronic diseases, including inflammation and cancer, and age-related chronic disorders.

“Antioxidants have two primary uses in foods—extending shelflife by preserving food; and enhancing nutritional value and health benefits,” explained Jin Ji, Ph.D., Chief Technology Officer & Executive Vice President at Brunswick Laboratories, Inc. Both exogenous forces, such as heat and light, and endogenous components, such as transitional metals, contribute to the process of oxidation.

Natural antioxidants have a long history of use in North America, dating back to Native Americans. In 1920, the antioxidant industry emerged and initially focused on synthetic antioxidants, such as BHA and BHT. In the 1980s, the trend shifted to natural antioxidants. Antioxidants fall into several major groups. The first is phenolic compounds, which are found mostly in seeds, berries, herbs and spices. The second group is tocopherols, which are isomers of vitamin E and occur primarily in nuts, seeds and vegetable oils. Other sources include ascorbic acid, citric acid and carotenoids.

“A food formulator needs to first quantify the antioxidant level. Brunswick Laboratories provides ORAC assay, or Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity, a quick and cost-effective method to quantify antioxidants,” added Ji.

Using test methods that are accurate and repeatable, the industry has developed robust databases that enable food formulators to select an optimal antioxidant ingredient based on ORAC values. Industry has also developed quick, industry-specific methods to
quantify specific antioxidant sub-groups, such as phenolic compounds and anthocyanins. When an even more targeted approach is needed, labs can “fingerprint” specific antioxidant constituents.

An ORAC database was first introduced by the USDA in 2007, with the initial release containing data on 277 food items. After widespread misinterpretation by consumers, the USDA withdrew the database from their website in 2012. ORAC values are expressed as μmol of Trolox Equivalents (TE). In order for the data to be properly interpreted, one must note whether the TE values are per 100g or per serving.

Spices generally have high ORAC values, as do cocoa and pomegranate. The original ORAC assay only measures antioxidant capability of a material against only one free radical—peroxyl—when, in fact, many foods contain multiple free radicals, noted Ji.

A newer measure, ORAC 5.0, evaluates against all five primary radicals. (See chart “Radical Source and Antioxidant Capacity of Vegetables.”) Both ORAC and ORAC 5.0 values are available on the Brunswick Laboratories website at

Food formulators need to know how a specific antioxidant ingredient will perform in their food system. Important questions to explore include availability, cost-effectiveness, stability and compatibility with the other components of the food. Another consideration
is whether to choose a synthetic or a natural antioxidant. Antioxidants have potential to promote mental sharpness and heart health; and to reduce cancer, inflammation and vision problems. Label claims can be supported through preclinical studies
and, ultimately, clinical trials.

Ji reminds food formulators that in the competitive food market, “Science-backed products will win.”

Jin Ji, Ph.D., Chief Technology Officer & Executive Vice President, Brunswick Laboratories, Inc.,, 1-508-281-6660,


Natural Color in the USA: What Product Developers Need to Know

Posted on:October 2, 2015
Ray Matulka on natural colors in product development

Colors that are exempt from certification by FDA. Click on this image for a larger version of the chart. 

October 2, 2015–Global Food Forums, Inc. — The following is an excerpt from the “2015 Clean Label Report,” sponsored by Loders Croklaan, RiceBran Technologies and SunOpta.

Colors are added to food to make up for color losses during processing; to enhance naturally occurring colors; and to add color to foods that would otherwise be colorless or colored differently. Major food manufacturers, such as Nestle, are trying to create clean labels by removing FDA-certified colors so that they can declare “no artificial colors” on their labels.

FDA regulations make this a tricky proposition. Before 1958, the food industry used potentially dangerous ingredients as food colors. So the FDA created a set of food additive regulations for colors, which are contained in 21CFR, sections 73 and 74.

“All ingredients added for a coloring effect in food are considered color additives. However, colorful food additives, which are added for other functional benefits (such as flavor or texture) and do not change the original color of the food, are not regarded as color additives,” said Ray Matulka, Ph.D., Director of Toxicology with the Burdock Group.

Colors are classified as either “certified” (synthetic) or “exempt from certification.” Nine certified food colors were approved for use in the U.S. and require batch testing to ensure safety. The exempt colors are derived from natural sources, such as vegetables, animals or minerals. Generally, they have clean-sounding names; do not require batch testing; and are often times thought of as “natural.”

U.S. color regulations may differ from those in other countries. For example, erythrosine is approved for use in the U.S. but only permitted for certain applications in the EU. Coloring agents are considered food ingredients in the EU, rather than color additives.

Titanium dioxide, although a natural color derived from ore, has a chemical-sounding name and has fallen into disfavor with some consumers. There were some concerns about the safety of caramel color, but the FDA evaluated it and determined there was no risk to consumers, said Matulka. In recent years, vegetarians and vegans have shied away from carmine, a coloring ingredient derived from insects, and the FDA now requires that it be specified on the label.

Sometimes coloring ingredients are created by mashing, cooking or concentrating vibrantly colored foods, such as purple sweet potatoes, elderberries and grapes. The color of these natural color ingredients can change or diminish, due to time or processing, and industry has developed innovative packaging and stabilizers to protect these colors.

Some natural colors, such as paprika and turmeric, can significantly impact food flavor. In the U.S., only colors that are listed in the CFR may legally be used in foods. However, fruit and vegetable juices, such as lime juice powder, can be used to impart color and do not require a color additive petition.

“Developing a color additive petition is no small task,” explained Matulka. The petition should include the common or usual name of the ingredient; what’s known about the source material; information about any toxic components that could come through the
extraction process; and data on any heavy metals, solvent residues or pesticide residues. Stability data should be documented and reflect actual use and exposure. FD&C colors must always be listed on the food label. For natural colors, the color must also be listed, but the label might read “colored with beta carotene,” “beet juice color” or an equallyinformative term.

Industry has moved away from using the term “natural.” FDA considers all color additives as “artificial,” even if they come from a natural source. Fortunately, the FDA is providing leeway in not using the term “artificial color,” but there are limits.

Ray A. Matulka, Ph.D., Director of Toxicology, Burdock Group,, 1-407-802-1400

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