Clean Label

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Over recent years, claims for “naturalness” have been invading our supermarket shelves, with 16.3% of launches in France and 13.6% in Europe

Natural, authentic, free from preservatives, additive free…so many terms refer to this notion of returning to less processed ingredients – which are more authentic and functional – and to a reduction, or even elimination, of widely used additives. Encouraged by media coverage, the suspicion surrounding additives is further increasing this phenomenon, which is already well under way.

Consumers are calling for a return to ingredients they recognise.

Coordinated development of food processing techniques and additives

Today, additives form an integral part of the food industry. Technological processes are required for their production, and the development of these over time has improved their performance. There are several manufacturing methods from the most natural to the most artificial.

One of the reasons why additives are used is to keep food for longer – this was their original purpose developed almost 2000 years BC. The present-day objective of manufacturers in the baking industry is to meet the growing expectation of customers who are calling for more natural products. They must adopt the “clean label attitude” while maintaining the functional aspects of their ingredients. However, cutting down the list of ingredients by eliminating additives isn’t always a simple task. These substances have highly effective functional properties that are sometimes difficult to reproduce.

LCI expertise in the clean label business

Limagrain Céréales Ingrédients has forged a unique way of obtaining functional and authentic ingredients. We combine different varieties of cereals with a patented hydrothermal treatment process called farigel, which naturally modifies the intrinsic properties of natural cereals. Depending on the parameters adopted, we make a wide range of ingredients called functional flours, with high-performance properties for a wide array of applications. By combining these functional flours solutions to additives, allowing you to label your products “clean label”.

Clean label in bread making

In general, an additive is a substance that is used in small amounts to a food to endow it with certain characteristics and, therefore, make it marketable. Indeed, most of the products that we consume are produced industrially. This means they undergo all sorts of physical and chemical transformations, making them less bland – but giving them a restricted shelf life. Manufacturers therefore use additives to overcome this. In industrial bread making, complex in technical terms as additives provide a wide range of functions.

By eliminating them, several challenges arise concerning volume, texture and storage.

The process of replacing additives with other functional ingredients must therefore take three issues into account:

  • The technological properties of the dough.
  • The crumb structure.
  • The taste and texture of the finished product.

Which additives are being replaced?

  • DATA type emulsifiers (E472e) which form complexes with proteins, thereby improving the fermentation tolerance and volume of the bread.
  • Monoglyceride type emulsifiers (E471) which form complexes with amylase and reduce the initial rigidity of the breadcrumbs. They also limit the swelling and solubility of starch granules and therefore reduce the protein/starch interactions.
  • SSL type emulsifiers (E481) which form complexes with both proteins and starch.
  • Lecithin (E322), which encourages water absorption in the dough, thereby increasing its tolerance
  • Thickeners (E4xx) such as gum and sodium carboxy methyl cellulose which enables more water to be mixed in with the dough, thereby keeping the finished products soft.
  • Ascorbic acid (E300) which, through its antioxidant properties, strengthens the gluten network and increases the tolerance and volume of finished products.

Making additive-free breadmaking improvers will therefore involve:

  • Replacing E numbers with natural ingredients and processing aids.
  • Simplifying the labelling on finished products by eliminating superfluous compounds.

In this context, the desire to develop a single improver per application turns out to be impossible, as such a solution does not produce satisfactory results – or at least results that are equivalent to products made with additives.

In order to obtain the same functions, improvers must meet the technical constraints of targeted applications and be specific to product groups: breakfast pastries, packaged bread and puff pastries.

Clean label in cake making

Food additives are already frequently used in industrial cakes. The most common are hydrocolloids which, by reacting with water molecules, change the rheology of their environment.

Hydrocolloids are used for:

  • Thickening properties: without interacting with macromolecules, they reduce the mobility of the aqueous phase (e.g. carrageenans in set custard desserts).
  • Gelling properties: by interacting with molecules, they form a three-dimensional network (e.g. pectin infillings and sauces).
  • Stabilising properties: the two previous effects can prevent smaller or larger particles from separating in the aqueous phase: e.g. mixture of guar flour and xanthan gum in sauces.

Used in pastries, the water binging effects by adding stabilizers bring the following advantages:

  • Control the rheology of the dough.
  • Keep the cake moist.
  • Keep the suspensoid property f hydrocolloids in the event of adding ingredients.

Controlling the dough rheology

The viscosity of dough is a critical issue for manufacturers. A dough that is too liquid will prevent the product from developing properly and the desired volume from being obtained. On the other hand, dough that is too thick will slow the pumps on the production lines.

Furthermore, for marbled textures, it is essential to have exactly the same regular dough for both parts. For these challenges, we have developed two “clean label” functional flours as alternatives to the hydrocolloids used: farigel wheat H1 and farigel wheat 7418. Incorporated from 1% to 5% of the total recipe, these invisible solutions, which can be labelled as “wheat flour”, will allow you to control the viscosity of your dough.

Keeping the cake moist

Moistness is a continuing objective for cakes (sponge cakes, madeleines, muffins, etc.). Manufacturers endeavour to increase both the initial moistness and shelf life.

To limit the retrogradation and staleness of products, while maintaining the dough characteristics and volume of finished products, we have worked on obtaining a tailored ingredient. Farigel wheat TM80 is extremely fluid granular functional flour with controlled particle size. Thanks to its controlled rheology and binding with water before and during baking, the product stays moist throughout its shelf life. An analysis of the texture shows greater suppleness and slower staling using 2% farigel wheat TM80 in a typical muffin recipe.

Suspension of added ingredients

For products with added ingredients, it is important to ensure these are evenly distributed across slices. Alternative solutions must therefore have highly effective viscosifying and suspensoid properties.

LCI offers farigel wheat 7418. Making up 1% to 3% of the total recipe, this “instant” reference (used cold) ensures that added ingredients are evenly distributed (for example, pieces of fruit or chocolate chips).