Special edition: Natural and clean label

Developments in clean label ingredients

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Clean label Taste

With food manufacturers and retailers striving to strip down food ingredient labels to a bare minimum, FoodNavigator.com takes a look at how ingredient firms have stepped up their game to help meet the growing demand for clean label products.

‘Clean label’ is an attempt by food manufacturers to simplify ingredients lists to make them more appealing to consumers who may have the (often mistaken) perception that fewer ingredients mean healthier products. It usually involves the removal of E-numbers, which are given to both natural and artificial additives.

Below is a selection of new ingredients launched in Europe over the past year that aim to help manufacturers improve the clean label profiles of their products. FoodNavigator.com would like to point out that this is by no means a comprehensive list.


UK-based Ulrick & Short last month launched new range of cold swelling starches under its Synergie brand, designed to deliver texture and stability to baked goods without the need to declare them on an ingredient label. The flagship product in the range is a starch derived from wheat, which can be declared on a product label as ‘wheat flour’.

The ingredients are said to work like any other starch to deliver body, texture, stability and mouthfeel to a range of food products. However, because they are ‘cold swelling’ they do not require heat in order to deliver their functionality. This in itself is not uncommon in starch ingredients, but the ingredients are also said to be “process-friendly”​ in that they do not require high-speed mixing or high water content.

Earlier this year, Limagrain Céréales Ingrédients (LCI), highlighted the clean label credentials of its Farigel wheat H1, 7418 and TM80, which the firm says provide clean label alternatives to achieving what it describes as “three important cake making objectives”.​ These are: controlling the dough rheology, keeping the cake soft, and suspending added ingredients.

The so-called ‘functional flours’ can be used in a range of applications such as ready meals, snacks, bakery and pastries. The functionality of the flours depends on the variety and the process but ultimately they can be labelled ‘wheat flour’.


Germany’s Kampffmeyer earlier this year developed a new clean label binding system for tomato sauce, which it says removes the need for modified starch (usually labelled as E1400-E1499), as well as reducing the amount of tomato needed. Purabind Pulp, made by splitting out wheat flour fractions by hydrothermal and physical means, is cold-swelling and keeps its structure when frozen.

Sauces made using the ingredient are stable, and can be used in fully-automated dosing systems without becoming waters – a common problem with fresh tomato sauces. The ingredient is used in sauces at levels of between 4 and 7 per cent, and a sample recipe would also use vegetable oil, some triple concentrate tomato paste, and water.


A new umami flavour from Symrise is designed to replace monosodium glutamate (MSG) in Europe, once approval is granted. The ingredient can be added to other flavourings to boost the perception of umami, which is one of the five taste sensations detected by humans.

Symlife Umani – which is the result of three years’ work from Symrise’ R&D team – is already being employed by some manufacturers of savoury products in Asia Pacific and has FEMA GRAS (generally recognised as safe) status in the US, it is not yet permitted in the EU.

Salt reduction

German ingredients firm Wild has launched a new tool for reducing sodium content in foods, by combining natural sea salt with its flavour modification technology. SaltTrim, which has been available in Europe since 2007, is said to allow manufacturers to replace as much as 45 per cent of the sodium in foods with potassium chloride without the characteristic metallic taste often linked to the mineral.

But given the shift towards clean label products in Europe, the company also sought a sea salt that is naturally low in sodium but with a natural level of potassium chloride. While added potassium chloride has to be labelled as E508, the naturally occurring mineral does not. Sea SaltTrim can be labelled as ‘low sodium sea salt with natural flavouring’.

Science behind the scenes

Researchers have also been busy investigating the building blocks of future clean label ingredients. Some of those developments are:

  • Researchers in Finland discovered lactic bacteria that naturally produce hydrocolloids in wheat bread using sourdough, and could be used to make additive-free products that meet taste and texture requirements. (Food Microbiology​ Volume 26, Issue 7, October 2009, Pages 734-743.)
  • Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing report that protein concentrates from sweet potato show good emulsifying ability at a concentration of about 1 per cent, and could offer a clean label alternative (Food Hydrocolloids, ​doi: 10.1016/j.foodhyd.2010.05.011)
  • Scientists from the National University of Singapore and the Nestlé R&D Center in Singapore report that gelatine could be replaced by a combination of sugar and agarose for confectionery applications. (Food Hydrocolloids; ​doi: 10.1016/j.foodhyd.2010.03.013)

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