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Formulating Clean Labels

Clean Label Bakery Ingredients




Hello, I'm Michael Beavan. I'm the Technical Services Director at the Bakery Ingredient Division here at Watson, and as an ingredient supplier, we need to be conscious, not only of our customer's needs, but also of his or her needs, obviously which includes you and me. And for this relationship to thrive, the trust that our customer puts in us to deliver to him safe, functional, and affordable ingredients, that trust needs to be transmitted to you and me and all the other consumers out there, through the ingredient label or the ingredient statement that you see on the actual baked product in the supermarket. That label is coming under increased scrutiny, and it needs to be much cleaner than it was. So, we all have our own perceptions as to exactly what 'cleaner' means, but it is probably, it will probably fit with one of the expressions that you see on this slide.

But whatever it does mean to you, the product that the statement identifies has to be, first and foremost safe. Safe to eat. There are no exceptions to this and of course what constitutes safe and what is not safe should be based on good, hard, sound science, not on customer perception.

Customer Demands

Sometimes the two views agree, which is good. Sometimes they don't. And it's when they don't then we as, all consumers, need to take responsibility. We need to ask a lot of questions. We need to follow the evidence. We should not succumb to the loudest voice or the latest blog. Baked products also have to deliver some tangible benefits. They have to appeal to us. Their appearance has to encourage us to buy them. Their flavor, their texture, their color, their price, their convenience, how much nutrition they're bringing to us. How do they fit in with our overall diet? All of these have to encourage us to eat these products again. And to provide all of these benefits for bakers, this can see overwhelming. So we really need to identify exactly who our customers exactly are. How can we maximize the appeal of our baked products to our customers. So, as customers, who exactly are we? Well, we know that we are very demanding. We want short, simplified ingredient statements. We also, if you look at this very carefully, it does show that we're not that interested, or not as interested as we are in clean labels, as with product attributes. You know, how much the product... how much of an ingredient the product contains or it doesn't contain. We're much more interested in what benefits the product can bring to us, what is in it for us? We need, even though we are demanding, it doesn't really get us very far. We do need to be more specific on exactly who our customers are.

So one interesting way that I came across, to group us 'Clean Label' consumers, was suggested by the National Marketing Institute and their insight was to group us consumers into these five segments. One thing, the first thing you'll notice about this slide is that all the segments are about the same size.

Clean Label Consumers

So it's not possible to target just one segment, one group of consumers here, and be successful. We need to target maybe two or three. Ideally, it would be good if we could target every segment. We need to take care of the 'Well-Beings'. These are people who are committed to their health and well-being, and they are determined to see it through. On the other end of the spectrum, if you like, there are the 'Eat, Drink, and Be Merries' and these people - clean label may not really be an issue for them. So they'll make their choices from whatever is available out there. We have the 'Magic Bullet Seekers'. These are consumers who are looking for products which will deliver a specific benefit. They will promote a healthy heart or stronger bones or an improved digestion or even help us to lose weight. The other segment here are the 'Fence Sitters', these are people who do care about their health that somehow seem to be very confused by the arguments both ways, for and against. So they really don't know which side of this fence to jump. They have the 'Activists'. Activists, these are people who alert us to the potential dangers or the potential benefits of eating one ingredient or another. In my experience, activists have a tendency to talk more about ingredients and less about overall diet, they tend to use descriptive values rather than actual values, as in the actual value of the ingredient that we actually consume. But whatever I think of them, they do represent almost 20 percent of us consumers, so we need to serve those people as well.

Of course, at Watson here, when I look at our customers, I see that their customers fall into all of these five segments, so we need to develop solutions for all of them, and where do we start, how are we going to do this. One good place is the urban hunting ground: the local supermarket.

Ingredient Statements

For anybody who has walked the bread aisles of a local US supermarket, you're going to see a huge variety of baked products and they're all designed or have attempted to deliver us some benefit. This slide, for instance, shows ingredient statements from products that I basically picked out at random from my local supermarket. They include bread, rolls, tortillas, English muffins, bagels, cakes, cake muffins... and while I was looking for those, you see even more variety in the bread.

Pan breads, hearth breads, fruit breads, grain breads, fiber breads... So all of it, all of these products containing a lot of ingredients on their statement. If I look behind the statement, there are a lot of differences as well. Even though most of these products are all made in much the same way, they all use different methods of, say, dough or batter preparation. They use different baking systems. All of these different companies use different ingredients and basically different processes. And so, just the variety that you see on the shelf, there is a lot more variety behind those.

One thing, if I look back and see what are the successful projects out there, one thing that I notice is that the formulas are all very well balanced. They've all been adapted, over the years, to a particular set of ingredients and a particular set of processing conditions, so that every ingredient there becomes crucial. So taking out one ingredient, or trying to replace one ingredient with another ingredient, can dramatically change the appearance or the texture whatever of the end cake or the end bread. So, it's not really just a question of just replacing ingredients one-for-one, an 'unclean' ingredient, if you like, with a cleaner ingredient. We need to look at all of the ingredients, and how they all function, how they all interact with each other, and how they interact with the particular processing conditions, so that at the end of the day we get a bread or cake that we expect. The other thing that you may notice about these ingredient statements, if we look closely, is that they all contain the same six basic ingredients, or at least ingredients that have the same function as those six, to a greater or lesser extent, and not always in the same ratio. So as you see here: flour, water, yeast, salt, sugar, oil. Very short. Very simple. Very recognizable ingredients. Nothing that I can see that is 'unclean' about any of these. And you can make some wonderful, wonderful baked products. Oh, maybe somewhat limited from just these six ingredients. However, as all consumers, we demand a variety of products. We demand certain qualities in those products, and we want an affordable price. And this is where all those other ingredients come in. Even though all these other ingredients, there's a lot of them and it does appear very confusing, they can be grouped, albeit somewhat loosely, into four distinct groups.


The first one, these are 'Definers'. These are ingredients like grains and seeds and fibers and fruits, all of these that define the type of a bread or cake, and... you know what they are. I don't need to go on, I won't say anything more about those.


The Conditioners: These are ingredients that basically control the passage of the dough or the batter through the baking process, from the mixer to the oven. They ensure that the dough or the batter, the particular properties of the dough or the batter, are correct. The viscosity is correct, the elasticity of the dough, the extensibility of the dough, is correct at the right place and at the right time in the process. For example, in the mixer for a dough: the dough needs to be more extensible than elastic. It needs to be able to be developed with the least amount of energy. Towards the end of the proofer, into the oven, the dough needs to be much more elastic, it needs to hold its shape. It mustn't collapse out of the proofer when it gets to the oven.

Shelf-Life Extenders

The 'Shelf-life Extenders': These are the ingredients that give us the convenience. The convenience for the baker, that he could expand his areas of distribution, for example, and also provides a convenience for us, that we don't have to shop every day for fresh baked products.

So these are the type of ingredients that keep bread crumbs soft. They keep tortillas flexible. They keep cakes tasting fresh, and they also prevent the growth of mold on the surfaces of the baked products.


Finally, we have 'Enhancers'. These are ingredients like colors and flavors, inclusions, toppings. These are those that give the immediate appeal, helps the appearance of the baked product. The importance of that, this is where those Enhancers come in.

All of the ingredients that you see here, all of these other ingredients, they're all in there for a reason. Otherwise, they wouldn't be there. They all have a specific role in there, and as far as we know, the limit of our scientific understanding, our scientific knowledge, all we know, these products are, in this context, at these levels, all of these ingredients are safe to eat.

'Conditioners'. These cause the most problem with customers, consumers, usually because of their names and they are also one of the more technically-challenging ingredients to replace. Whether you're making breads or you're making cakes, the batter or the dough needs essentially to expand evenly through the system. It has to entrain the air that is being used by the yeast or the baking powder. And these, the first group here, these are predominantly used in breads and they essentially control the balance between the extensibility of the dough and the elasticity of the dough. The first four of these are oxidizers, these serve to strengthen the dough, these serve to 'prove the elasticity', if you like. The last two, these are reducing agents, these serve to relax the dough, to basically make the dough a little more extensible.

They all have different strengths. They all work at different rates so, to know exactly what product you're expecting out of the oven and it's very important that you have these type of products, these type ingredients, in there in the correct amount at the correct ratio. This is crucial. Any differences in those and you will not get the product that you expect.

The second group... These are essentially synthetic emulsifiers, and like all emulsifiers, they serve to hold oil, or groups that like oil and water - all groups that like water - together. This can be in a more traditional emulsion like a cake batter, or in a dough setting, where they basically strengthen the strands of gluten, as the gluten expands. So how we are contributing here is that for, let's say for bread-like products, we can provide an alternative to the chemical oxidizers and the chemical reducing agents, and the synthetic emulsifiers, by using a vitamin (vitamin C or Ascorbic Acid) and a blend of oxidative... or, enzymes with oxidative properties and those reducing properties. And we can entrain all these inside a lecithin matrix, that's the thing which is a non-synthetic emulsifier derived from soybeans or sunflower seeds, and wheat gluten, which is the, essentially the structural component of flour. And this, this type of system, this is representative of making a strong range of products. For cakes, replacing the synthetic emulsifier is much more difficult task, but on the other hand, it's probably a lot less necessary. These types of products are indulgence, and I think or I believe that when we... when it comes to indulgence, we're a lot less exacting. We're a lot more forgiving of what is actually in there, when indulgence is involved. So. The range - so for our range of cake conditioners, we have found some enzymes that can act on the basic cake ingredients here, to simulate the functionality of softening the air-inclusion properties of something like propylene glycol, monostearate, or mono- and diglycerides. And talking of mono- and diglycerides, this leads us into shelf-life extenders. Mono- and diglycerides are a very versatile ingredient. It's certainly a crumb-softener and it's also very good whipping aid, it helps with the inclusion of air into batters, and also acts as a lubricant in breads, at the slicer it eases the slicing. The calcium sodium propionate and potassium sorbate, these function in their acid forms, which is propionic acid or sorbic acid, to inhibit the growth of mold. Potassium sorbate is a particularly effective mold inhibitor. It has a very bland flavor. But it is active against yeast, so the only way that this could be used in a yeast-raised product, is for it to be encapsulated, you'd use sorbic acid. Or as part of a topical spray, or we just have to limit its use to products like cakes, which are chemically-leavened. Propionic acid, though... that's a rather interesting ingredient. It is, on the one hand, an EPA-registered pesticide. It is a fungicide, and it is a bactericide, so it kills things - it kills fungi and it kills bacteria. On the other hand, it's normal metabolite of the human body, every human cell contains some propionic acid. It is also a key flavor component in Swiss cheese. So although propionic acid is found in nature, which is good, the source for the majority of commercial bakeries is synthetic. There are natural forms out there or, what can I say... propionic acids from more natural sources. So, there really is no reason, except for price, for why we do not use these.

Just in case you're interested for a piece of trivia, two ounces of bread or two slices of bread contains less propionic acid than half an ounce of Swiss cheese does.

Watson Shelf-Life Extenders

So for shelf-life extenders, Watson provides a series of blends of enzymes, these act on the components, the flour components, in league with fat and the starches, to produce a soft crumb texture. And when we entrain them in the lecithin matrix, we can also simulate some of the properties of mono- and diglycerides. This is a slideshow, this is part of our Stay Soft range. We also provide Mold Inhibitors, whereby the propionic acid is produced by the fermentation of, in this case, whey, but it could be wheat starch or cornstarch, in much the same way that the propionic acid is produced in cheese-making.

FD&C and Non-FD&C Colors

OK, to Enhancers. I'll only just mention one enhancer, a color. Specifically, a yellow color. There are only two types of colors that are allowed for use in food in the U.S. These are the certified colors, these are the familiar FD&Cs, and those colors which are exempt from certification. These are usually spices or vegetable extracts. Both of these types are termed as 'color additives'. Color obviously increases the appeal of baked products, everything from the pale-yellow crumb-color of a potato bread, to the bright colors in frostings or icings on cakes.

So, why are we still using certified colors? Europe dispensed with these some time ago, but the U.S. does still use them. I suppose one of the main reasons is that, with the seven certified colors, you can produce virtually any color or any shade of color you could desire. They are very consistent products, relatively inexpensive, and they don't vary from batch to batch. Very consistent.

Historically, a lot of the colors that were exempt from certification, they lack these properties. However today, the technology has advanced and there are a series of powdered and liquid products that really could be used in just about any applications that the certified colors are presently used in.

At Watson, we offer both blends powdered, color additives and liquid blends. The Golden Glow series here, this is part of our powdered series, blends of annatto and turmeric and beta carotene. We also have a unique liquid dispersion of beta carotene, and this is used in breads, but it can also being used very effectively in doughs which have much less water, as in crackers and fillings.

So, whatever it is that you want, whatever product or whatever ingredient you desire for helping you to clean the label, whether it's enzymes and, say, lecithin to replace chemical oxidizers and synthetic emulsifiers, whether it's cultured products to replace synthetic mold inhibitors, or whether it's you need liquid dispersions of colors that are exempt from certification to replace the certified colors. At Watson here, we have the expertise. We do have the technology to do this, so that we can provide our customers with ingredients that can help them achieve a cleaner label.

So that would benefit all us consumers - all us Well-Beings, us Fence Sitters, us Activists, us Magic Bullet Seekers, and us Eat Drink and Be Merries. Thank you.

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