Going Au Naturel: Coloring Considerations

Posted on:November 25, 2014

November 25, 2014, Global Food Forums — The following is an excerpt from the Ingredion-sponsored “2013 Clean Label Conference Report.” 

Basic Chemical Structure of Anthyocyanins

Click on image for full-size PDF.

Neither FDA nor the EU has a legal definition of “natural” colorants; however, consumers and marketing departments seem to have a clear concept, wryly noted Ronald Wrolstad, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Food Science Emeritus, Oregon State University.

FDA classifies colors as either certified, synthetic FD&C food dyes or as color additives for food use that are exempt from certification. Most of those exempt from certification are naturally derived. “The Southampton Study,” which several years ago assessed the effects of synthetic food colorant consumption on 3-year-old and 8-to-9-year-old children’s hyperactivity levels, concluded that the Global Hyperactivity Aggregate (GHA) score was higher due to synthetic color consumption. However, the FDA took no action, and the EFSA concluded that the Acceptable Daily Intake should not be changed.

Yet, partially due to that study, global sales of ‘natural’ colorants have overtaken artificial,” said Wrolstad. While providing cleaner labels and health benefits, there are obstacles to using “natural” colorants. Typically less stable to heat, light and oxygen, they may also react with other components in formulations producing undesirable flavors and colors. All desired hues may not be possible, and natural colors are more costly.

“The ideal natural colorant,” explained Wrolstad, would be permitted for use in all markets and have no negative impact on product appearance or flavor. Also desired are no changes to nutritional profile, shelflife or stability; or to the manufacturing process, packaging or ingredient cost. In the real world, there is no global consensus on regulations.

When replacing synthetic colors with natural ones, matching appearance is challenging, he added. Flavor profiles often change, and color is usually less stable—often causing processing and packaging changes and cost increases. Alternatives to artificial dyes include anthocyanin-based colorants. In the U.S., these include fruit and vegetable juices and have an E163 designation in Europe. Structure variation of a compound impacts hue and stability. They are reddish in acidic solutions and more purple nearer a neutral pH. Betalain pigments are prominent in beet powder and beet juice. They have been found suitable for frozen desserts, for example.

Cochineal and carmine, which are extracts of insects (Dactylopius coccus), are extremely stable to light, heat and oxidation, but they are more expensive and are non-kosher. Tomato lycopene extract is water-insoluble, available in oleoresins, powders and water-dispersible preparations. Tomato lycopene extracts range from yellow to orange to red hues and are stable through a broad pH range, but are also susceptible to oxidation.

Carotenoids provide natural yellow and orange hues. They are lipid-soluble and susceptible to oxidation. Annatto is available in water- and lipid-dispersible preparations and provides yellow to orange colorings. Turmeric is a spice-giving characteristic color and flavor to mustard, pickles and curry powder. It is unstable to light and susceptible to oxidation.

Clinical research has looked at tumeric’s potential health benefits in kidney and cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers and arthritis, among other health conditions. (See

Saffron provides an intense yellow pigment. It is derived from the stigma of Crocus sativus flowers and is relatively stable to light and heat, but it is very expensive, warned Wrolstad. For green hues, chlorophyll [sodium copper chlorophyllin] is approved in the U.S. for citrus-based, dry-mix beverages but is used widely in the EU.

When it comes to blues, there are limited options. Spirulina extract is the blue water extract of cyanobacteria of the Arthrospira genus and has been approved for confections and chewing gum.

Caramel colorants are generally manufactured via the Maillard reaction. They are water-soluble and range from amber to reddish-brown to dark brown. Preparations are available for soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. Carbon black has been delisted in the U.S., but is permitted in the EU. Titanium dioxide is a permitted whitening agent in confectionary, baked goods and dairy products.

Differences may occur between suppliers. A colorant can vary in price, purity, tinctorial strength, shade, the presence of unwanted flavors, stability to heat and light, tendency to precipitate and suitability for individual applications. On the horizon are new sources of edible plants with high pigment content, desirable hues and good stability.

Ronald Wrolstad, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Food Science Emeritus, Oregon State University,

Insights into Protein Analysis, from Commonly Used Methods to New Developments

Posted on:November 21, 2014
Protein separation--factors and considerations

Click chart for link to enlarged PDF.

November 21, 2014, Global Food Forums — The following is an excerpt from the Arla Foods’-sponsored “2014 Protein Trends & Technology Seminar Report: Formulating with Proteins.”  

Protein is vast and complicated and, as such, needs equally complex methodologies to analyze it. Joe Katzenmeyer, Chemistry Supervisor of rtech Labs, provided a crash course on the subject.

“I like to tell people that the work my lab does bridges the gap between very traditional technology and very modern technology,” Katzenmeyer said, adding that his lab analyzes between 1,500-2,000 protein samples per month.

On the traditional side, there’s the Kjeldahl Method, which has evolved quite a bit since 1883 and is still widely used. In it, samples are boiled in sulfuric acid to convert the nitrogen into ammonium sulfate. The distillation involves adding sodium hydroxide and steam heat to release the nitrogen as ammonia; then the ammonia is captured in a boric acid solution that is titrated with hydrochloric acid.

“The majority of our work is done by this method. In a good day, we have two shifts that can run about 10 racks of samples,” Katzenmeyer said. “It’s our most high-throughput
method and the most commonly used for nutritional labeling.”

The Dumas Method is another traditional technique for protein analysis that involves the combustion of the sample and collection of the resulting gases. It involves far fewer chemicals and far less time than Kjeldahl, which is increasing its popularity, Katzenmeyer said. It involves applying high heat in a pure oxygen atmosphere; collecting gases; removing carbon dioxide and water; and analyzing the remaining nitrogen with a thermal-conductivity detector.

Both the Dumas and Kjeldahl methods are highly precise, with easily comparable results, but they have some obvious drawbacks. Non-protein nitrogen can be interpreted as protein, so one doesn’t know which proteins are involved, and one needs a multiplication factor to turn the nitrogen content data into protein.

More modern methodologies rectify those issues, and separation systems have been developed to determine the presence and amount of non-protein nitrogens
and individual proteins, such as myoglobin, denatured/undenatured whey, casein and alpha-lactalbumin.

Gel electrophoresis, for instance, uses electricity to separate and quantify protein macromolecules and fragments based on their size and charge. Liquid chromatography is another example, which takes liquid proteins (often dairy) and passes them through a column for the same purpose.

There is also mass spectrometry, which ionizes the components of a sample with an electron beam and then separates them with electromagnetic fields.

Of the more recent methods, however, near-infrared reflectance is most on the rise because of its incredible speed. It uses an infrared light directed at the sample, which causes vibrations in the chemical bonds and creates an energy spectrum that is analyzed and calibrated. “You could have a protein content reading on the production line in, say, 30 seconds,” Katzenmeyer added.

These recently developed methods, while more informative and specific, are generally more costly to execute. “They don’t separate very well, which is the difficulty with proteins. Imagine you have 10,000 proteins—you can’t fit all those peaks [one for each protein] in one little window. So, it gets much more complicated; more labor-intensive; and more expensive,” Katzenmeyer said.

Joseph Katzenmeyer, Chemistry Supervisor of rtech Laboratories,,  651-375-2207



A Food Scientist’s Approach to Working with Organics

Posted on:

November 21, 2014, Global Food Forums — The following is an excerpt from the Ingredion-sponsored “2013 Clean Label Conference Report.” 

Herzog-organic-clean label-Global Food Forums

The process of developing organic products is heavily influenced by the percent of organic components in the final product; additional certifications required; any retail requirements; and/or internal company requirements. Photo courtesy: (C) iStockphoto

Organic consumers show a wide spectrum of behaviors, said Sharon Herzog, Director of R&D, Country Choice Organics. One category, which comprises less than 10% of American organic buyers, is the “true natural:” those with a “faith-based belief system” and who are “committed to organic and prioritizes health and environment over price, convenience or taste.”

A second type, composed of the “health seeker,” encompasses approximately 20-25% of households. These consumers are “faith-based decision makers” who are “committed to personal/family well-being, but are not willing to sacrifice taste or convenience for a health benefit.”

Some of the most prominent drivers of the organic movement include consumer awareness of the link between nutrition and health, and the desire to avoid pesticides, herbicides, GMOs and trans fats. Further drivers include concerns for the environment and an interest in sustainability.

Her unique Product Development Toolbox for organic products addressed regulatory compliance, knowledge of ingredients, and their functionality processing and
packaging. The process of developing organic products is heavily influenced by the percent of organic components in the final product; additional certifications required; any retail requirements; and/or internal company requirements.

For example, which ingredients can be used and what claims can be made depends on whether the finished product contains 100%, 95% or more, at least 70%, or less than 70% organic material in the final product (not counting its water and salt content). Please see Permitted ingredients are also determined by the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (which can change rapidly and for which there is a Sunset Process—all ingredients are reviewed at least every five years); the availability of a non-organic ingredient declaration; an ingredient’s commercial availability; and certain other certification requirements.

Some non-organic, agricultural substances are allowed, because they are not commercially available. Herzog discussed the challenges surrounding ingredient functionality by using emulsifiers as one example. For the conventional emulsifiers mono- and di-glycerides, organic substitutions could be lecithin, rice bran or oat fiber.

When it comes to lecithin, the form is also important. The liquid form must be organic, since it is commercially available. However, non-organic, de-oiled, powdered lecithin is allowed for use in certain organic products—since this form is not considered commercial availability. When a humectant or moisture control is needed, HFCS is a conventional choice, said Herzog. Organic replacements might be brown rice, cane, tapioca or oat syrups.

There are considerations in product scale-up with organic ingredients. For example, organic sugar generally has not had all molasses removed, and clumping can be an issue. In regards to antioxidants, conventional choices include TBHQ/BHA, whereas alternatives for organic products could be tocopherols and/or use of ascorbic acid, nitrogen, high-oleic oils and cinnamon.

Turning to flavors, Herzog noted that natural flavorings can be used, but one must dig deeper than that for their use in organic products. For example, carriers in a flavoring
cannot be synthetics (e.g., propylene glycol, polyglycerol esters of fatty acids, mono- and di-glycerides or polysorbate 80); and no synthetic preservatives are allowed (benzoic acid, BHT/BHA). During its processing, certain solvents are allowed (e.g., water, natural ethanol, super-critical CO2, essential oils, natural vegetable oils), but not hydrocarbon solvents.

Herzog ended her presentation by noting that at her first natural products show, an organic product retailer said “Sharon, we’ll never have to apologize for what we do” and noted that she does feel really good about the industry.

Sharon Herzog, Director of R&D, Country Choice Organics,


Speakers at Global Food Forums Events

Posted on:November 20, 2014

Challenges and Solutions When Working with Protein and Fiber

Posted on:November 13, 2014

 November 13, 2014, Global Food Forums — The following is an excerpt from the Arla Foods’-sponsored 

The challenges of fortifying with protein & fiber, Martha Porter, 2014 Protein Trends & Technology Seminar“2014 Protein Trends & Technology Seminar Report: Formulating with Proteins”  

Protein and fiber are added to food systems for many reasons, both functional and nutritional. However, with their addition comes the need for ingredient and processing adjustments, depending on the final food and its desired characteristics.

“The approach that works for us,” explained Martha Porter of Merlin Development, “is to first identify all issues through searches of literature, marketplace, patents, competitive
products (both retail and restaurant) and analogous foods. Then robust experimental design optimizes taste, cost, process and shelflife. Finally, confirmation runs verify the design predictions.”

Porter went on to highlight key considerations when using protein in low-, intermediate- and high-moisture systems. Low-water Systems: In low-water systems, such as protein bars, texture changes over shelflife. Protein tends to increase firming over time, beyond the normal firming that takes place. Proteins are not fully hydrated immediately
and, over time, they draw moisture from syrups generally used to hold bars together. Fiber, if it is not fully hydrated, can also draw moisture from the syrup. The continuous syrup phase then becomes more concentrated, contributing to the loss of pliability.

“Strategies to overcome these issues include use of multiple sources of protein and fiber,” said Porter. In addition to protein powders, nuggets or crisps can be high in protein and also contain fiber. Coatings can be protein- or fiber-fortified.

Cereal pieces, like oats, wheat flakes, nuts, pulse flour, or pieces and seeds, are other sources of protein and fiber. Protein hydrolysates are helpful to mitigate firming. Low-DE syrups promote chewiness and help maintain pliability. They contain longer-chain carbohydrates that hold onto water better and provide cohesiveness.

Higher-DE syrups add sweetness; multiple forms of sugar (sucrose, fructose, etc.) in the same binder system can hinder recrystallization. Sugar alcohols control water activity
and browning. Typically, granola or cereal bars need a water activity below 0.65, with pH in the acidic range. Intermediate-water Systems: Intermediate-water systems like bread have sufficient water to hydrate ingredients, such as fiber and protein, but there is limited
room for their fortification due to other necessary functional components. For example, dilution of gluten creates problems with volume and texture in bread.

In bread, protein considerations include clean flavor and color, especially in white bread. Non-white breads can incorporate pigmented particulates, like nuts, seeds and other
whole-grain ingredients. Fibers can include resistant starches and maltodextrins, which are digestion-resistant, but behave like starches and maltodextrin. They can help mitigate the heavy texture seen with high-cellulosic fiber breads. A blend of different fiber sources may be necessary to achieve both nutrient content and organoleptic quality. Other formula and processing adjustments may be necessary as well, said Porter.

High-water Systems: In beverages, protein selection depends on the desired characteristics of the final product. If clarity is desired, acidified proteins are needed. The proteins used will also depend on the desired function of the beverage or nutrition claims.
Ionic strength, pH, fat and carbohydrate content, and processing parameters, such as temperature and shear, affect final product characteristics. For fiber, the focus is on nutrition, but beverages need fibers with a minimal impact on viscosity, explained Porter.

High-protein and -fiber solutions can be gritty, which can be masked by viscosity. Soluble
fibers may be more helpful, as can smaller particle size. Processing parameters in beverages that need consideration include rehydration time; heat stability of the protein;
and turbidity after heat treatment and fiber dispersibility. Homogenization and emulsion formation, batching temperatures, order of ingredient addition (critical for an acidification step) and packaging (clear or opaque) also help determine final product qualities.

In summary, determination of the rationale behind product fortification is first and foremost. Different moisture levels determine how to approach the formulation issues. Protein and fiber selection can be critical to product success. Process considerations also matter.

Martha Porter, Scientist, Merlin Development Inc., 763-475-0224,,

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