Structure, Functions and Applications

Posted on:December 1, 2015

A simplified overview of functions and limitations of some traditional and emerging proteins provides a few considerations to their use. (Click on image for PDF of chart.)

December 1, 2015—Global Food Forums, Inc.—The following is an excerpt from the “2015 Protein Trends & Technology Report: Formulating with Proteins,” sponsored by Arla Foods Ingredients. 

When a food manufacturer decides to fortify a product with protein, they must first determine the target protein level and then develop a narrative story for consumers to believe in the product.

If the product is targeted for muscle-building, then the narrative will be different than if the product is targeted for weight management. The narrative builds credibility in the product, its purpose and what it stands for to consumers, said Julie Mann, MSc, Staff Scientist, Snacks and Adjacencies Research, The Hershey Company, in her presentation “The Protein Bridge: Linking Protein Structure to Function and Applications.”

The target level of protein influences whether to fortify with a protein isolate, protein concentrate or whole food protein product. Potential claims might be 5g of protein to make a “good source” of protein claim; 10g to make an “excellent source” claim; or simply “x grams of protein.”

If the protein does not meet protein quality standards (PDCAAS), as is the case with many plant proteins, then several proteins or additional grains may need to be combined to correct for protein quality, said Mann.

When selecting from the vast array of protein ingredients, cost and functionality are critical considerations. Mann explained: “The formulator needs to ask, what functional attributes will the protein provide? Is the ingredient readily available? Will the finished product be cost competitive, and is there price volatility?”

Meeting consumer demand for clean label and sustainability introduces other issues. Can the protein ingredient make a GMO-free claim? Has it been co-processed with other ingredients that need to be labeled? Does it allow the manufacturer to develop a narrative around sustainability: responsible water, land and fertilizer usage? These topics are becoming increasingly important to consumers today.

There are two major types of protein: globular and fibrous. Globular proteins, the predominant group, are compact, folded and generally water-soluble.  Fibrous proteins, like those in collagen and gelatin, are generally less water-soluble.  Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and differ by side chain.

“Understanding the amino acid composition of a protein provides insights  into potential functionality in the final product. For example, if there are  sulfur-containing amino acids, then expect disulfide bridges in the final  product,” said Mann.

Egg products contain cysteine and serine, which aid in structural stability through bridging. Proteins have a primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure. Understanding the bonding that occurs within these structures also  helps to predict the function and performance in the final product, Mann said.

Denaturation takes the protein from its compact native state to an unraveled state. It may be reversible or irreversible, and partial or complete. Denaturation results in decreased solubility, increased viscosity, altered functionality and some loss of enzyme activity. Denaturing agents include temperature, pH change, shear, high-pressure processing, salt addition, organic solvents, and oxidizing and reducing agents.

Finished product processing may involve additional pH and temperature changes, as well as interactions with air, acids, fat, flavoring agents and other components in the system. Protein ingredients can contribute to water binding, viscosity building, gelation, foaming, emulsification and browning. Understanding their functionalities up front can shorten development time; ensure stable products throughout the shelflife; and inspire development of unique functions or novel products.

Food formulators should embrace both old and new protein sources. Dairy and soy are traditional powerhouses. There is growing interest in gelatin for joint health and beauty-from-within. Pulses are already eaten in many regions of the world.

Emerging proteins include algae, canola, oats, flax, hemp, quinoa, rice, sunflower and lemna. Some have wider commercial availability than others. Exploratory proteins include insects, such as crickets and mealworms. RuBisCo is the most abundant protein on earth and is found in every green, leafy material. Developments in newer proteins are increasing at a rapid pace, due to the need to feed more and more people over the next 20+ years.

Industry doesn’t yet know whether consumers will embrace these new ingredients, or if there will be confusion and unforeseen negative baggage. Food formulators should strive to better understand the functionality of traditional proteins, while exploring opportunities to embrace novel proteins, Mann concluded.

Julie Mann, MSc, Staff Scientist, The Hershey Company,,


Protein, Appetite & Leveraging: Protein’s Role in Energy Balance

Posted on:November 24, 2015

Research into Leveraging Protein for Weight Management

Long-term benefits of higher-protein diets for weight management are, possibly, only slight. However, several paths of further investigation into proteins’ more detailed role are suggested. [Click on chart for larger image.]

November 24, 2015—Global Food Forums, Inc.—The following is an excerpt from the “2015 Protein Trends & Technology Report: Formulating with Proteins,” sponsored by Arla Foods Ingredients. 

Advice for weight loss used to be simple: Eat less of everything. “This approach has not worked, and we are focused on identifying those unique foods and components that may play a role in weight reduction,” stated Richard Mattes, Ph.D., Purdue University, in his talk “Protein, Appetite & Leveraging: Protein’s Role in Energy Balance.”

Mattes posed the question, “Are all calories equal? At the molecular level, the answer is yes.” “However,” he noted, “several food components are of interest for weight control at the organ and whole-body level, and research is showing that the energy from each may not be equal.”

Protein is one such food component that might alter other food choices. Some work indicates there might be a “protein-specific” effect, as rats deprived of protein will show a preference for protein consumption when provided access. Similar results have been noted in pregnant animals. Further, when fed a protein-restricted diet for 12 days, animals will try to “make up” the deficit when allowed protein for one hour per day.

Evidence in humans indicates that when protein-deprived, protein consumption will be favored—as evidenced by heightened intake of soup containing either casein hydrolysate or MSG—both providing cues that protein is present.

Epidemiologic data shows the intake of fat and carbohydrate varies widely between countries, but protein intake is very constant at 12-16% of energy. In the U.S. over the last four decades, both fat and carbohydrate consumption have changed markedly, yet protein levels have remained constant. This suggests a biological basis for consumption.

Mattes described the theory of “protein leveraging,” which suggests human intake of protein is a primary determinant of energy intake. That is, if the protein content in the diet is low, humans will eat more food in order to meet optimal protein status. However, all three studies directly testing the protein leveraging hypothesis have not supported the theory.

While not playing as central a role as the protein leveraging hypothesis predicted, protein can alter diet or physiological functions (such as thermogenesis). Such effects may be small, but they might aid in weight management—while contributing positively to diet quality.

Several meta-analyses of shorter-term, tightly controlled feeding studies showed greater weight loss, fat-mass loss and preservation of lean mass after higher-protein, energy-restriction diets.

Leidy, et al., reviewed 24 acute feeding trials of ≥120 minutes containing low- and high-protein isoenergetic meals with different protein intakes (≥10g) and with less than 40% of calories as fat. A modest satiety effect, including greater perceived fullness and elevated satiety hormones after higher-protein meals, was confirmed, but an effect on energy intake at the next eating occasion wasn’t shown, said Mattes.

People will lose weight on energy-restricted diets with or without high levels of the protein. However, diets that contain between 1.2-1.6g protein/kg/d and are consumed in a distributed fashion providing 25–30g protein/meal may provide improvements in appetite and body-weight management. Further, higher-protein
diets are associated with greater retention of lean mass—which is beneficial in maintenance of losses in body weight.

The vehicle in which protein is delivered is very important. Greater satiety and a more consistent decrease in energy intake have been shown when protein is fed in solid form rather than as a beverage.

In summary, Mattes noted, “Higher-protein diets may enhance fullness under selected conditions and have higher thermogenic properties that may very modestly aid weight loss or maintenance. Such diets are associated with greater retention of lean body mass and higher resting energy expenditure, and may be associated with lower energy intake acutely. High-protein diets may promote very modest reduction of body weight and fat mass, and somewhat positively aid weight maintenance. However, these effects may require substantive increases of protein intake, a behavior change that has proven difficult for most people to follow.”

Richard D. Mattes, MPH., Ph.D., RD, Distinguished Professor of Nutrition Science, Purdue University; Affiliated Scientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center,, 1.765.494.0662,


How the FDA’s Proposed Food Label Changes Will Impact Proteins

Posted on:November 23, 2015

Van-Laack-photo-2015 Protein Trends & Technology Seminar

Under current regulations, free amino acids used in conventional foods are regulated as food additives, which means their addition to foods is limited. In dietary supplements, amino acids are considered dietary ingredients and may be added without restriction (provided they are safe). [photo credit: Sandstein]

November 23, 2015—Global Food Forums, Inc.—The following is an excerpt from the “2015 Protein Trends & Technology Report: Formulating with Proteins,” sponsored by Arla Foods Ingredients. 

From what can be gathered thus far (May 2015), the FDA’s proposed changes to nutritional information listings will generally not impact protein ingredients directly, but they may indirectlyaffect them.

If developing products with nutritional goals in mind for a certain claim or label, the criteria for making those claims may change, noted Riëtte van Laack, JD, Ph.D., Director, Hyman, Phelps & McNamara, PC, in her presentation “The Present and Proposed Future of Food Labels.”

“These are proposed regulations, so we don’t know what the end-result will be. But it’s clear things will change, and the industry has to be prepared to rethink certain things,” van Laack said.

One of the few and possibly only changes directly impacting proteins is a proposed increase in the reference daily intakes (RDI) for lactating women from 60-65g per day of protein to 71g. The FDA’s large draft proposal centers on the need to update the Nutrition Facts box with the goal of improving how information is presented to consumers.

The previous iteration of Nutritional Facts dates back to the early 1990s, and the FDA is reportedly revisiting nutrition labeling requirements out of concerns about obesity in American consumers; new nutrient definitions; new data reference intake values; new analytical methods; and new dietary recommendations, said van Laack.

A new format for the Nutrition Facts box is one proposed change. The servings and calories would be noted in a larger, bolder typeface. Calories, in particular, would appear much more prominently than now. The other notable proposed change is that the Daily Value percentage column would be moved to the left, before the individual nutritional components. As with everything in the proposal, these items may still be tweaked, and the FDA has an alternative format already prepared for consideration.

Other proposed changes focus on certain line items now commonly listed in the box. “‘Calories from Fat’ is slated for removal and ‘Added Sugar’ will be added. The FDA is now defining sugars as ‘…syrups, naturally occurring sugars that are isolated from a whole food and concentrated, so that sugar is the primary component (e.g., fruit juice concentrate), and other caloric sweeteners.’ ” Examples would be brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, malt sugar, molasses, raw sugar, turbinado, sucrose and trehalose.

There are currently no analytical methods to distinguish between naturally occurring sugars and added sugars, so this change could add a massive record-keeping requirement for companies.

Similarly, vitamins A and C are off the mandatory micronutrients list, while potassium and vitamin D are now required. Declaration of mandatory micronutrients also includes their quantitative amounts, not just their percentage of daily value. And, FDA has suggested many RDI decreases for various nutrients and a few increases (such as vitamin C and calcium).

The FDA is calling for changes to many of the Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed (RACC), which form the basis for determining serving sizes. Ice cream, for example, will move from half a cup to a full cup, and candy will decrease from 40 to 30g. “These proposed changes may indirectly impact protein in several ways,” said van Laack. They include product formulation changes due to interest in avoiding or decreasing certain nutrients.

Changes in RACC may also affect a food’s eligibility for claims. For example, yogurt’s proposed serving size reduction from 8 to 6oz may potentially affect its eligibility for a nutrient content claim.

Lastly, the FDA may suggest more changes in response to comments submitted to them. In the six-month period it permitted comments, the FDA received 278,000 of them. Among them was criticism of PDCAAS, the method currently used to determine protein quality for percent of Daily Values. It’s been noted that a 2013 WHO Report recommends replacing PDCAAS with Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score (DIASS).

Also at issue is the calculation of protein content based on nitrogen x 6.25 and amino acid spiking; this does not refer to the melamine problem, van Laack clarified. Rather, free amino acids used in conventional foods are regulated as food additives, which means their addition to foods is limited. In dietary supplements, on the other hand, amino acids are considered dietary ingredients and may be added without restriction (provided they are safe). However, protein content may not be declared on labels of dietary supplement products that contain only individual free amino acids.

This leaves a number of questions unresolved, said van Laack. “What about dietary supplements that contain both proteins and individual free amino acids?”

Comments by industry request FDA to revise the regulation to clarify that the declared protein content must be based on nitrogen content, calculated by using protein nitrogen content only, and may not include non-protein nitrogen content. Protein is defined as “a chain of amino acids connected by peptide bonds.”
Alternatively, calculation may be based on total amino acid content corrected for free amino acid content.

“Certain dietary supplement companies have already adopted this standard voluntarily,” van Laack said.

The FDA is aiming for mid-2016 to finalize the proposals. The revised labels and reformulated products would be required 2.0 years later.

Riette van Laack, JD, Ph.D., Director of Hyman, Phelps & McNamara, PC,, +1.202.737.9637,


Steaks to Shakes: Protein on the Shopping Lists

Posted on:November 19, 2015

November 11, 2015—Global Food Forums, Inc.—The following is an excerpt from the “2015 Protein Trends & Technology Report: Formulating with Proteins,” sponsored by Arla Foods Ingredients. 

LentilsAbout the Seminar: Following sold-out events in 2013 and 2014, the 2015 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar, by Global Food Forums, Inc., proved to be North America’s largest conference dedicated to the protein ingredient market and technologies. Held May 5-6,in Oak Brook, Ill., USA, its 231 registrants could choose to attend either (or both) the Pre-conference on May 5th or the Technology Program: Formulating with Proteins on May 6th. This report, sponsored by Arla Foods Ingredients, touches on highpoints from the technical program, where expert speakers delivered valuable, non-ingredient supplier- affiliated information.

All presentations or/and adapted versions are available online at

Consumers Source Protein from Every Grocery Aisle

Protein is on consumers’ shopping lists for many reasons—wellness, strength, energy and satiety among them—but what’s become equally diverse in recent years is where those shoppers find it. In her presentation, “Steaks to Shakes: Protein on the Shopping List,” Linda Gilbert, EcoFocus Worldwide founder and CEO, noted that 25% of U.S. consumers say they’ve been eating more protein in the past year, according to Mintel data.

Sectors like beverages, snacks and supplements are capitalizing on this growth. “Consumers today are diversifying their choices and shopping beyond the meat case to find protein,” Gilbert said.

According to Acosta, the most popular alternatives to meat protein among consumers today are nuts (64%), beans/lentils (63%), dairy/eggs (56%), grains like rice/pasta/quinoa (50%) and shakes/bars (21%). Weight management is the chief reason for this rise in protein demand (46% of Mintel respondents), with low-fat, low-carb and sugar-free diets losing popularity. Gilbert credits the rise of the Paleo diet, along with gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan and allergen-free diets, as additional driving factors.

Interest among Millennials doesn’t hurt, either, with 42% saying it’s important to get more protein in their diet (NPD Group), and 60% believing they can achieve the necessary daily protein amount without meat (Acosta). More than 31% of shoppers say they bought meat alternatives, such as tofu and texturized vegetable protein, over the past year, but Millennials led the charge at more than 50%. Two notable product examples of this are Lightlife’s Smart Patties, quinoa burgers with 10g of protein; and Quorn, a frozen food line made of fermented fungi.

Gilbert noted the snack aisle is getting significant attention for its protein products, too. Additionally, nearly all of the examples she mentioned carried non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free and/or organic claims, as well.

Protein product claims are up 54% in the past five years, according to Mintel. In the beverage category, IRI reports 91 examples in the dairy aisle (dairy and dairy alternative products) claiming to have “more protein” (36 in number); “high protein” (21); or proclaiming a “good source of protein” (34). By contrast, they found just seven juice products with protein claims. Hood Simply Smart and Farmland Dairies Skim Plus promise more protein (25 and 37%, respectively) and are on protein beverage shopping lists most often, according to IRI (52 weeks ending 3-22-15). They likewise boast features like more calcium, no fat and an eco-friendly container, said Gilbert.

TruMoo Protein Plus is another volume leader in this category, with 25g of protein and no HFCS. New Zealand’s new a2 Milk, just now being launched into the U.S. market, interestingly promises only a2 beta-casein and not a1 beta-casein, which is associated with milk intolerance, according to the company. Califia Farms’ Pure Almondmilk is dairy-, soy- and carrageenan-free, with 6g of pea and brown rice protein. Suja’s Organic Sunset Protein, available exclusively at Target, has 10g
of vegan protein with pea protein concentrate, almonds and hemp protein powder.

When looking for protein in juice, IRI says the most popular choices are Sambazon Protein, a vegan superfood smoothie with 8g of protein; and Silk Fruit & Protein, which is non-GMO certified and has 5g of protein (52 Weeks Ending 3-22-15). Dannon and V8 have both added protein shake varieties, promising 12g of protein and high fiber. Stonyfield Farms’ Orgain line proclaims the “first-ever USDA Organic high-protein shake with 25g of protein from organic grass-fed milk concentrate and organic whey concentrate,” Gilbert added.

Protein-shake-by-SandsteinAlmost 50% of shoppers that use protein shakes and/or bars use them as meal replacements at least one-two times per week, Gilbert mentioned. Millennials do so most often.

Gilbert concluded her presentation with the question: “Can protein [also] make us beautiful?” She noted collagen supplements are now on the U.S. market, and in Japan, gummy candy from Meiji contains at least 2,400mg of collagen for skin beauty. Suntory has introduced a collagen-infused beer to Japan that promises to make the drinker more beautiful.

Linda Gilbert, Founder and CEO, EcoFocus Worldwide, and Founder
of HealthFocus,, +1.727.906.3319,


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,

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