Who doesn’t loves chocolate peanut butter cups? High demand for this second most popular, high-volume confection (more than $400 million in annual sales) means they typically are freshly made. Peanut butter – like many foods that have a high level of fats in them – can be difficult to preserve and have a tendency to deteriorate, leading to texture and flavor issues and reducing effective shelf life.

Food-grade synthetic antioxidants, such as BHA, BHT, EDTA and TBHQ, have been used for decades to protect food products, especially high-fat foods, from oxidation and rancidity, and thus to promote taste and freshness and extend shelflife. However, the dramatic move of the food industry toward cleaner labels, coupled with consumers’ desires for more wholesome ingredients, has placed a big target on these compounds.

Plant-derived phenolic compounds have attracted considerable attention due to their beneficial functional effects, including their antioxidant properties. They can act as free-radical scavengers to inhibit lipid oxidation. One of the most effective sources of these protective polyphenols is rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L). Extracts derived from rosemary plants contain several compounds known to possess powerful antioxidant function, the most noteworthy being carnosol, carnosic acid and rosmarinic acid. New technological approaches to creating these extracts have addressed the issues of taste, odor, color, and performance that previously prevented widespread use of rosemary as an antioxidant.

Today, PLT Health Solutions offers an extensive portfolio of standardized and customized rosemary extract solutions – standardized carnosic acid or rosmarinic acid – that can effectively replace synthetic antioxidants. These ingredients are available as liquid, powder, organic, oil-soluble, and water-soluble forms, offering support in a comprehensive range of food-product applications. The confectionary segment is one where expert application of rosemary extract solutions has shown particular promise.

Figure 1 is a comparison of efficacy of natural and synthetic antioxidants against oxidation in peanut oil using an accelerated aging method (Rancimat). Because the process takes place through a chain reaction, the oxidation reaction has a period when it is relatively slow, before it accelerates and undesirable secondary reaction products are formed. The time until secondary reaction products are detected is called “induction time” and is an indication of oxidation stability of oils and fats. A longer induction time indicates better antioxidant performance.

Figure 1: Delaying the onset oxidation in peanut oil

Figure 2 shows an example of the use of a PLT rosemary extract versus a control in a chocolate shelf life extension test. Rancimat tests showed that induction time for the milk chocolate tested was 1.6 times longer than the control. 

Figure 2: Chocolate Shelf Life Extension

These results led PLT Health Solutions to work closely with the producers of high-quality chocolate peanut butter cups in proprietary projects. The resulting successes indicate this is an ideal application for the use of rosemary extract technology. The customized rosemary extract solutions developed have enhanced product quality and increased shelf life significantly, while offering clean label “Rosemary Extract” labelling and replacing synthetic antioxidants.

PLT Health Solutions

119 Headquarters Plaza

Morristown, NJ 07960

(973) 984-0900