Natural preservation: Shelf life extensions, EU nitrates ban and botanical ingredient synergies
09 Feb 2022 --- Health concerns about artificial additives and preservatives are coming to the forefront across virtually every F&B category. Manufacturers remain under pressure to find effective natural solutions for spoilage inhibition as the constant need for clean label holds firm.
FoodIngredientsFirst speaks to experts from Kerry, Blue California, Givaudan and Kalsec to showcase the latest insights and developments in the space of natural preservation.
“Geographically, the clean label movement continues to be driven by consumers in Europe and North America, and demand remains high in both these regions,” details Jane Quartel, global business unit director, food protection, at Kalsec.
“However, we are seeing consumer behavior constantly shifting; currently, there is a drive in Asia – particularly in China – where the growing middle class is becoming more discriminating in their food choices and demand for more natural products.”
“We are seeing a desire for ingredients over processes,” remarks Bert de Vegt, VP and pillar lead for food protection and preservation at Kerry. “The link between naturality and sustainability is getting stronger.”
Powered by enzymatic bioconversion
Blue California’s product portfolio for nature-based preservation has expanded significantly over the last year. The functional ingredient supplier recently filed its first two patent applications on preservatives.
“We’ve brought to market nature-based preservation offerings, which include Rosavel rosmarinic acid and Taxifolin BC-DHQ,” reveals David Tetzlaf, marketing director at Blue California.
The company’s biotech partner Conagen offers a sustainable source of rosmarinic acid through enzymatic bioconversion manufacturing. This produces a greater than 95% pure compound, branded as Rosavel, which is also considered non-GMO, vegan and kosher.
Taxifolin, also known as dihydroquercetin, is a potent lipid-soluble antioxidant found in onions, apples and larch trees.
“There is promising data to show that Taxifolin BC-DHQ has an antioxidant activity similar to Trolox, α-tocopherol, BHT and BHA. It can be used to extend shelf life, prevent oxidation and preserve color in ground meats or colored fish like salmon,” says Dr. Linda May-Zhang, research, science and innovation officer at Blue California.
“An advantage is that taxifolin also has potential immune health-supporting properties, so consumers can feel good about ingesting food containing taxifolin as a preservative while at the same time imparting health benefits.”
Potencies of p-coumaric acid and hydroxytyrosol
This year, Blue California will be expanding its portfolio with p-coumaric acid and hydroxytyrosol.
“These compounds are potent antioxidants naturally found in nature, such as fruits, vegetables and grains,” Tetzlaf details. “They can serve as a great alternative to synthetic preservatives like BHA, BHT and synthetic nitrates.”
Hydroxytyrosol is an interesting amphipathic functional phenol found in the olive tree, both in leaves and fruits and olive oil, but mostly found in olive juice.
“Like taxifolin or any of our other molecules in Blue California’s portfolio, hydroxytyrosol has several health benefits due to its antioxidant properties,” says Dr. May-Zhang.
“Several research studies have been published to affirm the antioxidant properties of hydroxytyrosol at inhibiting oil oxidation and preserving ground meats and sausages in terms of inhibiting oxidation, microbial growth, discoloration and improving general acceptability.”
Regulatory activities are still underway for this product, but Blue California is currently offering samples for testing and open to application partnerships.
P-coumaric acid, on the other hand, is a natural antioxidant and antimicrobial found nearly ubiquitously in the plant kingdom. “It is found in cereal grains, peanuts, tomatoes, carrots, basil, garlic, vinegar, wine and honey,” explains Dr. May-Zhang.
Research regarding preservative applications of p-coumaric acid is still emerging, she notes. “Still, there’s promising evidence to show that it can inhibit lipid peroxidation and scavenge radicals comparable to BHA, BHT, α-tocopherol and ascorbic acid.”
P-coumaric acid is considered mostly lipid-soluble. Dr. May-Zhang adds that Blue California is seeking commercial partners interested in testing the potential of this compound in their matrices.
Cashing in on catechins
A recent focus in the natural preservation space is finding new ways to deliver antioxidants and antimicrobials produced by nature.
One example of this would be green tea. “Historically, the water-soluble properties of green tea’s antioxidants (catechins) have prevented their widespread usage in many true oil-soluble applications,” says David Johnson, senior product manager, food protection at Kalsec.
“Kalsec has overcome the solubility challenges with Teabalox Green Tea Extract, a label-friendly, oil dispersible green tea antioxidant that can extend the shelf life of oil-containing foods.”
To date, a good natural replacement for EDTA has been the “holy grail” in the field of natural antioxidants, Quartel adds.
“The industry has been looking for viable solutions for years,” she notes. “We are developing a promising product, extracted from a common fruit that appears to protect against oxidation in select dressings, which we hope to launch within the next 12 months.”
“Longer term, we have exciting programs based on biotransformation and green technology for novel natural compounds. This is an area with a lot of attention and momentum given its potential in sustainability and technology used for alternative proteins.”
EU enforces cap on nitrites
The presence of nitrites is sparking a wide controversy across Europe, highlights Guillaume Gaborit, global product manager of preservation at Givaudan.
France recently approved a new bill with targets to gradually cut down the use of nitrites in cured meats. With regulation tightening, industry’s eye has turned to similarly high-performing botanical alternatives to nitrites, such as Japanese knotweed.
“Consumers are increasingly careful to avoid these types of additives, leading many manufacturers to include ‘nitrite free’ or ‘natural’ claims on their front of pack,” notes Gaborit.
“Givaudan is working to ensure high-performance preservation solutions from plant sources such as rosemary, acerola, green tea, pomegranate or citrus, that also enable clean labeling.”
The flavor house’s experts have also developed several natural preservation blends for synergistic effects. For example, our XtraBlend RN, derived from spinach and rosemary, offers a high-performance natural alternative to ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) for mayonnaise, salad dressings and other lipid emulsions.
“Our ingredients can be used to create lasting sensory experiences across many applications, including next-generation launches such as innovative plant-based products, where natural preservation and coloring solutions go hand-in-hand with the product’s sustainable and better-for-you positioning,” Gaborit maintains.
Shielding with vinegar
Since Kerry’s investment in Fleischmann’s Vinegar in 2018, it has scaled production of high grain vinegar, which it processes with in-house fermentation techniques. This ingredient is a key raw material for preservation solutions such as buffered vinegar and other vinegar-based multifunctional systems.
“There are so many exciting things in the innovation funnel. Some of the most exciting launches will be vinegar-based systems, under the Nourishield brand that leverages multiple consumer-friendly ingredients to offer multiple modes of action,” highlights de Vegt.
He adds that multifunctional systems offer a better sensory experience because lower the doses of individual additive components in application.
“We are actively consolidating our portfolio of vinegar-based preservation solutions under one new brand name, IsoAge – which comes from the Latin phrase meaning ‘same age’ – so watch out for our new vinegar collection in liquid and dry with low and no sodium offerings.”
Kerry is continuing to invest heavily in next-generation preservation concepts within and outside its portfolio of ferments, plant extracts and conventional preservation solutions for meat, bakery, dairy, beverage and plant-based applications.
By Benjamin Ferrer
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