Shelly McKee, assistant professor, Department of Poultry Science at Auburn University, and technical advisor to the American Egg Board, showed the many ways eggs contribute to food products (largely due to their high-quality proteins).

The true value of eggs can be attributed to their nutritional and polyfunctional role as an ingredient in a variety of food products. As polyfunctional ingredients in foods, eggs provide foaming, emulsification and coagulation properties in addition to contributing to crystallization control, texture, binding, color, flavor and nutrients in foods. To date, no other food or combination of ingredients has completely duplicated the properties that eggs contribute to foods. In addition to many functional properties, eggs are a rich source of high biological value protein and an economical ingredient.

Dietary trends such as the South Beach and Atkins diets influence market trends. They have increased the consumption of proteins in general, in addition to influencing the types of proteins people want. Eggs and meat provide excellent protein sources for these diets.

Proteins are important nutritionally. When eaten, the body breaks them apart and uses the amino acids to build new proteins necessary for growth and repair of the body tissues. They are used in the production of antibodies for the immune system, and function as enzymes and regulators of processes such as digestion.

The quality of any protein source is based on the content and ratio of the amino acids. Eggs contain all nine essential amino acids including the four (lysine, methionine, threonine and tryptophan) that often are limited in other dietary sources. Foods containing all nine of the essential amino acids are referred to as “complete protein” foods. Eggs have the highest protein efficiency ratio (PER), which is a measurement of the efficient utilization of the proteins in the body. Egg and human milk have an amino acid score (1.0) against which all other dietary protein sources are measured. In addition, egg protein has a digestibility measure of 0.92-0.97. Other foods, such as corn and beans, must be combined with other foods to give an amino acid score of 1.0.

“Eggs as a Source of High-quality Protein,” The American Egg Board. For more information, contact Joanne C. Ivy at

Erythritol: An All-natural, Non-caloric Sweetener

Concerns over obesity and diabetes are driving consumers toward foods that are low-calorie, reduced-sugar or sugar-free. Erythritol is an all-natural, non-caloric (0.0Kcal/g) bulk sweetener that can be used in place of sugar to help developers meet these consumer needs, explains Ron Perko, business development manager, Cargill Sweetness Solutions. As a bulk sweetener, erythritol is 70% as sweet as sucrose. In replacing sugar, it provides the bulk, texture, water-activity reduction and shelflife stability that sugar provides, and it has a low hygroscopicity. Erythritol also is tooth-friendly. It has a pleasant cooling effect when its crystalline form is present in a food product.

Erythritol is produced via a natural fermentation of dextrose or sugar. Because of its small molecular size, it almost is completely absorbed in the small intestine and readily eliminated (>90%) by the renal system. Our bodies do not metabolize erythritol. Clinical studies show that erythritol has a digestive tolerance that is three to four times better than that of sorbitol and mannitol and two to three times better than that of xylitol, lactitol, maltitol and isomalt. Furthermore, erythritol has no insulinemic or glycemic response.

The accompanying table (see Prepared Foods magazine) lists the maximum regulated use levels for various applications in the U.S.

“Erythritol: An All-natural, Non-caloric Sweetener,” Ron Perko, Cargill Food & Pharma Specialties North America, ron_perko@,

The Product Development Process from a Sensory Perspective

Consumers purchase products for a variety of reasons, and the use experience becomes very important in relation to repeat purchases. Advertising, pricing and access at the retail level all contribute to a product's success. However, it has become increasingly clear that typical practices have not yielded the kinds of success anticipated. In an effort to gain insight into how consumers function and think in relation to products, there has been a wide range of developments within the realm of consumer behavior. Herbert Stone, PhD, president and co-founder of Tragon Corp., and Bruce Yandell, vice president of operations, presented information on sensory perception's role in analyzing consumer choice behavior.

Product development follows a path of idea generation, concept development, product and process design, and production and delivery. Six Sigma is a data-driven method that organizations are using to improve their business processes, including those involved in the concept development phase. When used as part of the product development process, Six Sigma may follow an approach that either defines, measures, analyzes, improves and controls (DMAIC) the process or defines, measures, analyzes, designs and verifies it (DMADV). The measurement aspect addressed by each approach assesses current product performance or determines customers' needs.

Often, a product's delivery does not fit consumers' perceptions of the concept. As a result, there are a growing number of organizations developing systems that integrate consumer input earlier in the concept design phase of the research process by integrating product performance information with consumer expectations. Organizational challenges involved in this process include quantifying consumers' expectations, identifying key product improvement opportunities and monitoring the organization's efforts to meet these needs.

Organizations can capitalize on opportunities to learn how consumers would describe a product's characteristics, as well as how they might define the benefits and uses of a product category (i.e., general product attitudes, product usage and consumption frequency, brand and variety awareness). Product mapping, for instance, integrates consumer and sensory information and provides a market snapshot among key product competitors. Key drivers of acceptance can be determined by plotting consumer acceptance vs. descriptive analysis attribute intensities.

Integrated research evaluates products and concepts using exploratory qualitative and quantitative methods, thus providing opportunities to refine the concept and reformulate products simultaneously.

In this coming year, Prepared Foods magazine will be publishing information provided during its 1996 R&D Applications Seminars. A primary focus will be hands-on advice to formulators. This includes applications in which an ingredient can be of greatest benefit, at what levels the ingredient should be used and whether there are interactions with other ingredients and food components.

Additional tracks will provide both formulation trend information as well as information on regulations, food safety and analytical testing. Stay tuned.

“The Product Development Process from a Sensory Perspective,” Bruce Yandell and Herbert Stone, PhD, Tragon Corporation,, www.tragon. com.