In today’s competitive marketplace, “regular” foods and beverages often profit from providing a nutritional edge. Consumers look for products that give them nutrients they may miss, energy and for general well-being. Attendees of <I>Prepared Foods</I>’ 2008 R&D Seminar-EAST learned about available options, including protein and calcium fortifiers, polydextrose, polyols, coloring ingredients and flavoring systems.


Nutrition in Frozen Desserts

In the recent evolution of nutritional products, everything from beverages to bars and even frozen desserts is showing up with claims of low-fat, reduced-fat, no-sugar-added, high-protein, high-fiber, low-GI and the like. However, with frozen nutritional products, distribution can sometimes be an issue. For example, customers that want protein-fortified, frozen products have only a 50/50 chance of living near a suitable grocery store that might carry such an item. Therefore, to reach these customers, a product may need to be distributed in small chest freezers, through frozen vending machines or shipped overnight.

Development hurdles for a higher protein frozen dessert product include the effects of different proteins on flavor, viscosity and texture/meltdown, as well as interactions of proteins with hydrocolloids, explained Phil Rakes, R&D, Main Street Ingredients, in a speech titled, “Truly Healthy Frozen Desserts: Extending Protein/Nutritional Benefits to Frozen Desserts.”

For example, casein absorbs vanilla and may have a “stale” and/or bitter character. Whey, too, can sometimes contribute stale, cooked or sour flavor characteristics. Eggs can contribute cooked, sulfur or custard characteristics. Soy often has a green, beany, bitter, cereal or sweet characteristic, and peas have a legume-like taste. Coconut can provide a sweet, toasted, nutty characteristic, while rice can develop rancid, bitter and nutty flavors, said Rakes.

Proteins also can have an effect on viscosity, including inherent water viscosity. There can be both protein/protein and protein/hydrocolloid interactions. (See chart “Protein/Protein Interaction Data.”)

Texture in frozen dairy desserts can be affected by proteins. For example, the higher the level of milk solids not fat (MSNF), in the range from 9-15%, the smaller the average ice crystal and air cell sizes will be; this leads to greater sensory smoothness. Additionally, the effects of overrun on the final product texture can be quite substantial, Rakes added. Overrun affects the stiffness, dryness, meltdown properties, “scoopability” and sensory coldness of the item. The level of overrun can impact the frozen emulsion structure. The protein source affects overrun, with sodium caseinate giving the highest value, while all else remains the same.

 In conclusion, high protein and natural dairy frozen desserts can be successfully developed with specific target markets in mind. Close attention should be paid to the balance of proteins, when producing high-protein mixes that are to be processed in continuous pasteurization systems. A 100% dairy ingredient source is not required, as vegetable oils can be used with dairy fat. Serving sizes and label claims often are interdependent and must be considered at the beginning of the development processes.
“Truly Healthy Frozen Desserts: Extending Protein/Nutritional Benefits to Frozen Desserts,” Phil Rakes, R&D, Main Street Ingredients, phil.r@mainstreetingredients.com, www.mainstreetingredients.com
--Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

Calcium Fortification for Frozen Desserts

Calcium fortification continues to be of interest. One presentation given at Prepared Foods’ R&D Seminar-CHICAGO at the end of 2007 provides formulation advice on how to formulate frozen desserts with calcium carbonate--whether based on dairy or other proteins.

Forms of calcium carbonate include chalk, which is a soft accumulation of sediment composed of microscopic skeletal remains; limestone or compacted chalk beds that are harder and denser than chalk; and marble, a metamorphosed chalk or limestone that is very dense, hard and crystalline, noted Joann C. Foster, Specialty Minerals.

Calcium carbonate can be either precipitated (PCC) or ground (GCC), with properties that vary, depending on which is used. PCC is made from limestone, has a narrower particle size distribution, smaller maximum particle size and fewer coarse particles than GCC. In PCC, sub-micron size is possible, whereas GCC has a limit on minimum size. PCC has unique particle morphologies, while GCC has undefined morphology. Purity can be enhanced in PCC; lower-cost GCC has unalterable purity, but more effective particle packing.

Calcium carbonate used in food is a white, water-insoluble powder, contains 40% calcium, with an alkaline pH of 9-9.5, a specific gravity of 2.7 and a Mohs hardness of 3.0. In foods, calcium carbonate functions as a calcium source, acid neutralizer, opacifier, moisture scavenger, CO2 source or a powder flow aid. In beverage applications, calcium carbonate can cause sedimentation, taste and pH issues; however, there are solutions allowing its effective use, offered Foster.

With smaller particle size, better suspension stability is expected, but stabilizers are still required for shelf stability. Suspension aids are recommended, with iota carrageenan at a 0.15% w/w use level as the best option, followed by xanthan gum at 0.25% w/w or cellulose gum at 0.4%. Calcium carbonate has a minimal impact on the pH of most dairy-based beverages and causes a small increase in soymilk pH that does not affect shelflife. In a whey protein concentrate (WPC) solution, calcium carbonate increases the pH so that a buffering agent is needed for control and, therefore, the target RDI may need to be lowered, Foster advised.

In frozen desserts, calcium carbonate is a good calcium source. PCC also acts as a texturizing agent, contributing to the rheological properties of the system by enhancing creaminess and mouthfeel. It increases the structure, slowing the melt rate. Other properties of calcium carbonate determine its functionality, also. Particle shape affects its liquid demand, as two-micron, scalenohedral-shaped particles absorb considerably more oil than one-micron, rhombohedral-shaped particles.

In ice cream applications, a 0.5% (by weight) use level is recommended to be added to the powder ingredients, which is equivalent to 20% of the RDI per serving. At this rate, there are no special processing steps or additional stabilizers required. In frozen soy desserts, a 3.0% use level can be used, which is equivalent to 80% RDI. The calcium carbonate can be added to the soymilk/stabilizer mix, and no added processing steps are required. Recommended stabilizers in this case are carrageenan, locust bean and guar gum.

PCC over GCC is recommended for achieving good mouthfeel, and high oil-absorption grades serve additional textural functions, as they increase structure and slow melt. In dairy-based frozen desserts, the 20% RDI target is sufficient for structure benefits, where soy-based desserts require higher levels to achieve them.

In summary, PCC is the best option in beverages and frozen desserts, due to its finer particle sizes and the functionalities achieved from its differing particle morphology. Calcium carbonate’s high elemental calcium content provides maximum efficiency nutritionally, while its insoluble nature limits impact on taste and contributes to its function as a texturizing agent. Its alkaline nature is a minor consequence in milk-based dairy and soy, and it must be counteracted in WPC-based systems.
“Calcium Carbonate Fortification and Functionality in Dairy and Non-dairy, Frozen Desserts,” Joann C. Foster, formerly with Specialty Minerals, www.specialtyminerals.com
--Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

Better-for-you Fruit Snacks

The confectionery category also has been increasingly populated with products positioned for health. Experts say that timeliness affects food choices and behavior. Health and wellness also are on the radar screen, as people are more aware of their personal health. What it all boils down to is that consumers want snacks that deliver good nutrition. Fruit snacks are a dynamic sub-sector of the snack segment, with sales predicted to increase 23% in the 2004-2009 period, according to a presentation titled, “Better-for-you Fruit Snacks,” given by Jim Skidmore, technical service, textural ingredients, Danisco.

Hydrocolloids, such as carrageenan, pectin, starch, gelatin, agar agar, gum Arabic and wheat flours, are handy gelling agents in fruit snacks. Gums all have their respective advantages and disadvantages in fruit snack systems. However pectin, with its chains of galacturonic acid units partially esterified with methyl ester groups, is a particularly interesting molecule, with a unique structure and function in fruit snacks. Its distribution of methylated groups is of significant importance in pectin functionality.

Research has allowed continued development and improvement in pectin products, ensuring application-specific functionality, quality, maximum efficiency and reduced cost. Pectin is hygroscopic; therefore, proper dispersion and hydration is recommended to obtain pectin’s full functionality. Parameters that influence pectin solubility are soluble solids concentration and type, dosage, agitation, temperature and time.

Skidmore presented information on several fruit snack prototypes containing pectin that could be eaten throughout the day. He pointed out that selecting the correct pectin type to obtain the various textures in fruit snacks is critical. One prototype that could typically be eaten at lunch was rich in vitamin A and C, packed with the nutrients of carrots and apples in a convenient snack, which utilizes pectin for gelation. It provides a pleasant texture, vibrant natural color and high-flavor release, targeted to adults. Another prototype was a no-sugar-added fruit leather, where all the sweetness is derived from fruit. It utilizes pectin, DATEM and ACETEM for improved processing and machineability. Apple powder reduces evaporation time and stickiness. It tastes like apple and targets kids or adults.

Yet another prototype, positioned as a convenient afternoon snack high in fiber, provides a nutritional boost. The product utilizes pectin and polydextrose and provides prebiotic fiber; it is lower in calories, has excellent transparency and a short texture. A fourth prototype, an excellent bedtime snack, contains 25% less sugar and utilizes pectin for gelling and as a fiber source. It also provides a firm texture, added fiber and more fruit flavor.

Lastly, Skidmore described a late night snack as an indulgent reward for a hard day’s work. It utilizes pectin, carrageenan and distilled monoglycerides. Benefits include dual texture, a cold-set allowing for indulgent fillings and a wide tolerance range for process variations. It has a sweet apple with caramel filling taste profile and targets adult women.
“Better-for-you Fruit Snacks,” Jim Skidmore, technical service, textural ingredients, Danisco, Jim.skidmore@danisco.com, www.danisco.com
--Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor

Dextrin-based Fibers in Healthy Gelato and Sorbetto

With increasing awareness of the role foods play in health and obesity prevention, today’s consumers are savvier than ever. Great-tasting frozen products with nutritional benefits will drive future trends, said Young-Soo Song, project coordinator, food and beverage applications, Roquette America.

Refrigerated dairy yogurt will experience new growth from the promotion of digestive health and functional benefits. New yogurt products in 2007 that targeted digestive health accounted for 5% of yogurt sales. Frozen yogurt registered a growth of 4.1% from 2003-2007, the highest of the frozen desserts segments (Packaged Facts, 2008). Frozen dairy yogurt products are the next logical step for products providing digestive health, functional and advanced textural benefits.

Consumers demand great-tasting and healthy no-sugar-added ice cream products. For sugar replacers, the formulation criterion is a sugar-like sweetness, without addition of high-intensity sweeteners to eliminate handling concerns. Potential sugar replacers should also possess an optimized freezing point, equivalent to sugar and corn syrup. Being fully soluble and dispersible will benefit the manufacturer, as it offers low inherent viscosity. Single-ingredient solutions are simple to use and reduce the number of raw materials required. Also, ingredients that are thermally and pH-stable provide excellent stability, causing no breakdown during processing, says Song.

A number of ingredient options exist for reduced sugar, added fiber, reduced calories, etc., in ice cream and frozen desserts. These fall into two categories. The first is conventional sweeteners that include the usual fully caloric sugars like sucrose, dextrose, lactose and glucose syrups. The second category is ingredients for applications with healthy attributes, such as reduced sugar, added fiber, reduced calories, etc. This last category includes a wide variety of ingredients, including most polyols and some soluble fiber products.

Polyols are key bulk sugar replacers that can be used as a direct replacement for corn syrups or sugar/corn syrup blends in the formulation of no-sugar-added ice cream. Conventional ice cream often includes the use of corn syrup and sugar blends, says Song. Maltitol syrups with high maltitol content (65-70%) are ideal to create these no-sugar-added versions, Song adds. 

Unlike conventional maltitol syrups, this supplier offers dextrin-based maltitol syrup, an advanced fiber containing sugar-free bulk sweeteners ideal for formulating no-sugar-added ice cream and frozen desserts, without sacrificing the indulgent taste and full-fat-mouthfeel of premium ice cream. Dextrin-based maltitol syrup offers simplicity and ease of use as a single product powder or syrup, with a similar sweetness profile and freezing point depression as conventional full-sugar ice cream sweeteners. This single-sweetener solution for ice cream offers soluble dietary fiber and reduced caloric and glycemic values in a unique mixing step.

Consumer response to next-generation, no-sugar-added ice cream and gelato is positive. Consumers in a 2007 market survey were asked, “How likely would you be to purchase the product you tasted?” Some 60-65% responded, “Very likely.”
“Dextrin-based Fibers in Healthy Gelato and Sorbetto,” Young-Soo Song, project coordinator, food and beverage applications, Roquette America, Young-Soo.Song@roquette.com
--Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor