May 2004 Issue--Sales of organic foods have continued to spiral upwards at a rate of approximately 10% per year, so wise ingredient suppliers should seriously consider adding organic-friendly items to their stable of products.

This the tactic that TIC Gums (Belcamp, Md.) has taken, and the company has added organic arabic, locust bean and guar gum to its lineup.

Gums are complex polysaccharides that perform a wide range of functions in foods, but have the added benefit of being a good source of fiber. To the health conscious, high fiber means lower cholesterol, an improved LDL (low density lipoprotein) to HDL (high density lipoprotein) ratio, healthier hearts, and a means for fighting a range of cancers, including those associated with the lower bowels.

There are a number of studies, including a 1997 study by Mee and Gee that was published in The Journal of the American Dietetic Association, that show supplementing the diets of individuals who display mild hypercholesterolemia with fiber can have a positive effect on cardiovascular health. Gum arabic is just such a product, as it contains 85% soluble dietary fiber. The fact that TIC Gums has made an effort to produce an organic product, under the name TICorganic Gum Arabic, enhances the perceived overall value of such a product.

TIC Gums has worked closely with its acacia growers in Chad, Africa. This means the company not only can trace the product back to the fields where it is produced, but that comprehensive records clearly demonstrate the fields and plants meet organic certification criteria (that is, no use of pesticides on the plants or grounds). In a time when food safety and security is so important, the ability to control and track food products from “field to fork” provides customers with a feeling that what they are buying is safe and wholesome. The certifying body for the operations is the State of Maryland's Dept. of Agriculture.

The growing process is only part of the organic equation, however. The final product also must be produced in a facility that is certified organic. To achieve this, TIC isolates the raw materials during shipment and storage to assure that there is no cross-contamination between organic and “conventional” lots, and cleans all processing equipment with products that have been approved for organic operations. To further assure product integrity, the company segregates the first five bags of product from each run. On top of all this, TIC's processing operations are ISO 9001:2002 certified, which adds a further margin of security that documentation is proper and complete.

As with conventionally grown and produced gum arabic products, the TICorganic product has all the functional capabilities that a processor would desire. The product may be used in confections, beverages, snack foods and bakery products, as an encapsulating agent and in both pharmaceutical and nutraceutical products. Going the extra mile to meet the needs of niche processors is the sign of a good and progressive supplier.

For more information:

TIC Gums Inc., Frances Bowman