TIC Gums Inc., Belcamp, Md. has addressed these challenges and is working to bring gum arabic's benefits back in the limelight.
"The fluctuations in raw material availability occurred at a time when the Sudan was the only viable source of gum arabic," says Frances Bowman, marketing manager for TIC Gums. The company has now developed several non-Sudanese sources of gum arabic, solving the price fluctuation issue.
Modified starches derived from corn face challenges with consumer concern over genetic engineering. Some food manufacturers feel a need to reformulate their products with non-genetically modified ingredients. Gum arabic offers a solution to replacing some modified starches.
TIC Gums markets specially selected species of gum acacia. With gum arabic's benefits, it will find increasing use in flavor encapsulation, beverage emulsions, confectionery, snack foods and nutraceuticals.
Flavor encapsulation. Gum arabic is an ideal carrier in flavor encapsulation because of its natural emulsifying and surface-active properties, good retention of volatile flavor components, high solubility in water (up to 50%) and acid stability. Additional advantages include its bland flavor, low hygroscopicity and ability to protect flavors from oxidation.
A study at the University of Minnesota by Gary A. Reineccius developed and evaluated gum acacias for the encapsulation of flavors. Results showed substantial differences between various types of gum acacia. The acacia gums tested protected orange oil against oxidation more effectively than the modified starch.
In addition to several spray dried arabic products, TIC Gums offers TIC Pretestedw Gum Arabic FT powder. It is ideal for creating encapsulated spray dried flavors with a non-GMO claim.
"Gum Arabic FT and Arabic Spray Dry are sulfite-free. These are low in sediment and have very low bacterial counts including thermophilic spore counts. This is due to TIC's manufacturing process, which follows a HACCP Program. The whiteness index (color) is higher than other similar arabic products," says Florian Ward, vp, research and development.
Confectionery. Gum arabic retards sugar crystallization in gum drops and emulsifies and distributes fat particles in caramel and toffee. It functions as a binder and structure builder in cough drops and lozenges. In panned sugar confections, it serves as a coating agent and film-former.
Snack foods and bakery products. TIC Gums recommends gum arabic as a lubricant and binder in extruded snack cereals, at levels from 2-5%. At 15-40% levels, gum arabic provides adhesion of dry flavors in peanuts and similar products. In lowfat cake and muffin mixes, gum arabic functions as a partial oil replacer as well as a moisture binder.
Nutraceuticals. Due to its high solubility, low viscosity and high soluble dietary fiber content, gum arabic finds use in meal replacers, nutritional beverages and weight-loss products.
"These examples cover many applications. In the future, I would like to see gum arabic used as a source of soluble dietary fiber in beverage and bakery products," says Ward.
Gum Arabic Benefits
- Multifunctional: good emulsifier, film-former, texturizer and low-viscosity water binder and bulking agent.
- High source of fiber: contains no less than 85% soluble dietary fiber (dry basis).
- High percentage purity: no additives; free from sediment and impurities; has extremely low bacterial counts.
- Fast hydration and ease of dispersion: available in prehydrated or agglomerated form.
- "Natural" labeling: Gum arabic is not chemically modified and qualifies for "natural" labeling or "no artificial additives" claims.