As legal cannabinoid-infused food and beverage development and production continues to expand across the U.S., the inherent need for strong product stability continues to pose challenges. These high-value products require sufficient safeguards to help prevent oxidation and ensure as long of a viable shelf life as possible. This opens the door to investigating strategic ingredients to include in infused formulations to align with the lipophilic nature of cannabinoids.
“Liquid oils are primarily unsaturated lipids, which have oxidative stability issues during storage and when they are incorporated with other non-lipids ingredients to create high-value products,” says Rebecca Lucas.
THE CANNABINOID CHALLENGE
The fat-loving nature of cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD), poses challenges to stability in development of infused foods, including baked goods.
“Liquid oils are primarily unsaturated lipids, which have oxidative stability issues during storage and when they are incorporated with other non-lipids ingredients to create high-value products,” says Rebecca Lucas, director of R&D, Kemin Human Nutrition & Health, Des Moines, IA. She notes that lipids typically oxidize first in a complex product matrix, which will initiate oxidations of other nutritious and high-value ingredients, including proteins, flavoring compounds, and cannabinoids. “Kemin is an expert in controlling lipid oxidations and have customized solutions depending on the ingredients used in creating a prototype, processing, and storage conditions,” she notes.
“Typically, for infused low-moisture foods such as bars, oxidation is the main mode of failure during shelf life storage, while microbial growth is generally not a concern,” says Lucas. “Kemin has formulated and commercialized natural plant extracts such as rosemary extract as a label-friendly, yet powerful solution to combat oxidation.” In addition, a solution that combines rosemary extract and vitamin C has shown even stronger antioxidant effect in delaying oxidations in low-moisture foods, she notes.
The incorporation of cannabidiol into low-moisture bakery products like cookies can be problematic for product developers, says Sheila McWilliams, technical sales manager, Fiberstar, Inc., River Falls, WI. “The oily, viscous material is difficult to incorporate homogenously in a ready-to-eat product, and especially into a bakery dry mix.”
However, natural solutions are available, notes McWilliams, including Citri-Fi citrus fiber. “Citri-Fi is created using a process free from chemical modifications. This process opens up the fiber to expose high surface area. The high surface area and the intact native pectin content lends itself to trapping oils like cannabidiol oil. As a result, this natural citrus fiber holds the oil during blending and baking to improve functionality in a finished formula.”
Citri-Fi is an exceptional natural emulsifier, says McWilliams. Citri-Fi is comprised of soluble fiber in the form of pectin, insoluble fiber, and protein. “The pectin attracts and binds water to trap it within the insoluble fiber matrix. The protein portion of the citrus fiber provides the fat and oil binding. The oil holding provided by Citri-Fi is the key to formulating with cannabidiol in bakery products,” she says.
“The ideal way to incorporate the oil is to plate the cannabidiol oil, in liquid form, onto the citrus fiber powder,” continues McWilliams. “Citri-Fi 100M40 citrus fiber, a fine mesh material, is optimal for plating up to 50% oil. The cannabinol oil is added slowly to the citrus fiber in a mixing vessel to form a free-flowing powder. The powder can then be added to the bakery formulation.”
This multifunctional ingredient brings more than oil-binding and stability, notes McWilliams. “The natural citrus fiber not only serves as a delivery system for the oil, but also improves the texture, emulsification, and freshness over time of the baked good.”
Citri-Fi is stable under shear processing conditions and throughout a range of pH levels and temperatures, notes McWilliams. “Typical usage rates for Citri-Fi are low, even with the delivery of a specific dosage per serving of cannabidiol. Usage rates for citrus fiber range between 0.3% and 1.0%, depending on the formulation.”
Product type always dictates the available stability solutions. “For food emulsions that are typically acidic, the high fat content and high interfacial area also pose a big challenge for oxidative shelf life of those foods,” says Lucas. “Kemin has two plant-extract-based formulas that have been shown to delay oxidation and flavor loss in those foods effectively. The combination of rosemary extract and green tea extract in liquid form, and the combination of rosemary extract and spearmint extract in dry form, could be utilized based on the sensory or labeling preferences for our customers.”
“The natural citrus fiber not only serves as a delivery system for the oil, but also improves the texture, emulsification, and freshness over time of the baked good,” says Sheila McWilliams.
For relatively high-moisture foods, such as breads and tortillas, which typically have water activity higher than 0.7 and moisture higher than 30%, mold growth is a typical concern, says Lucas. “Kemin has an effective solution that is propionic-acid-based that has proven successes in the bakery industry for the past 20 years.”
While oxidation stability is not typically a concern for high-moisture baked goods, the fats and oils that go into those foods could become oxidized prior to manufacturing, advises Lucas. “The oxidized flavor and harmful oxidized lipids will carry over.”
To address this need in stored oils and fats, Kemin has an extract based on oil-soluble green tea extract that is emulsifier-free, completely oil-soluble, and doesn’t impact the product’s sensory characteristics or color, notes Lucas.
PARTNERS IN PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
As the legal cannabinoid-infused food and beverage industry continues to expand into new—and more-mainstream—markets, retailers and end consumers will benefit from high-quality, stable products that have a sufficiently long shelf life. Achieving that end goal is often the result of collaboration.
“We work closely with our customers during the initial ingredient screening stage to ensure our customers have the technical information they need to formulate successfully,” says McWilliams. “This comes in the form of sales visits, technical bulletins, and/or video demonstrations. When using Citri-Fi, it is important for developers to understand the processing capabilities, along with the functional benefits in cannabidiol-containing products.”
Kemin is devoted to the customer through customer lab services (CLS) and Kemin application solutions (KAS), notes Lucas. “The CLS team offers tailored analytical, shelf-life, sensory, chemistry, and microbiology testing services to help customers identify the most-efficient application rate and application point to ensure they are receiving the maximum value from our products. The KAS provides unique application technology, expertise, and services to help customers maximize the value of Kemin ingredients,” she says. “We run pilot trials with mobile units to ensure an application works well for a customer before designing and installing a full application system.”