Special edition: Natural and clean label

Recent developments in clean label science

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food hydrocolloids, Nutrition, Potato

In the latest part of our focus on clean labels and natural ingredients, FoodNavigator look at some of the scientific developments that have caught our eye in the growing area of 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.

Superheated starch

Scientists from TNO Quality of Life reported the development of a fat replacer by superheating starch and then cooling it. The patented technology was used to produce the fat replacers from various types of starch, with no chemical or enzymatic modification, which would allow manufacturers to have clean-label products.

“We think this could be a very good replacer of maltodextrin [as a fat mimetic]. It is cheaper and gives less energy to the final product,”​ Ronald Korstanje, business development manager at TNO Quality of Life, told FoodNavigator in 2008.

The obvious applications for the product would be low fat spreads, but reportedly tests have also produced positive results when formulated into ice creams and puddings.

The product could also replace carrageenan, said Korstanje, which is obviously of interest since seaweed supplies have tightened in recent times, leading some suppliers to publicly communicate price increases.

Nestle and confectionery

Scientists from the the Nestlé R&D Center in Singapore and the National University of Singapore reported that gelatine could be replaced by a combination of sugar and agarose for confectionery applications.

Writing in Food Hydrocolloids​ (doi: 10.1016/j.foodhyd.2010.03.013), the Singapore-based scientists state that, while gelatin is “the most frequently used structuring agent in confectionery products, it is increasingly falling ‘out of fashion’ with consumers and producers alike”​.

The researchers therefore considered if soluble fibre could help replace gelatin for a variety of food products, including confectionery products. While the mixture of kappa-carrageenan and sugar, or agarose and sugar show a brittle performance at low levels of sugar, at higher levels the agarose showed better elasticity than gelatin, they noted.

The potential of potato starch

In 2008, NIZO food research, working in collaboration with scientists from DSM Food Specialties and the Avebe Food Innovation Centre, reported the potential of potato starch-derived ingredient to enhance the creaminess of low-fat yoghurt (Food Hydrocolloids​, Vol. 23, pp. 980-987).

Studies with Avebe’s Etenia ingredient also found that the calorie-content of yoghurt could be reduced by over 50 per cent.

From normal potato to sweet potato, researchers from Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing reported earlier this tear that protein concentrates from sweet potato could form stable emulsions at a concentration of about 1 per cent.

According to findings published in Food Hydrocolloids​ (10.1016/j.foodhyd.2010.05.011), protein levels over 1 per cent producing more stable emulsions, while the levels of oil in the emulsion also affected the emulsion stability.

Analysis of the protein showed that the main components at the boundary between the oil and water were Sporamin A and Sporamin B, added the researchers.

“This study provided valuable information on the potential application of SPP as emulsifiers in food industries,”​ wrote the researchers.

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