Beyond ingredients: Food processing as a tool for cleaner labels12 Jun 2018
Ingredients come first when companies think about developing clean label foods and drinks, but certain processing technologies also should be considered part of the clean label toolbox.
People have been processing foods for thousands of years: cooking, fermenting, drying, freezing, preserving and extracting. Yet when consumers talk about “processed food”, often they refer to products that should be eaten in moderation, if not totally avoided. For many, food processing does not fit with the concept of natural, wholesome, clean label foods.
However, the idea of clean label processing is beginning to gain ground, whether as a way to replace undesirable ingredients, or as a way to support ingredient changes.
One of the biggest challenges for clean label foods has been finding ways to keep food safe and attractive while retaining a reasonable shelf life, without using artificial preservatives. Apart from natural ingredients for preservation, some companies have looked to natural processes to extend the shelf life of their products instead, such as high pressure processing (HPP), which can extend shelf life by a factor of two to ten. It deactivates a range of common pathogens, such as salmonella, listeria and microorganisms associated with spoilage, while leaving smaller molecules like vitamins intact, and it has no impact on taste and texture. HPP is widely used for fresh juices, but can also be used for soups, sauces, ready meals, dips, meat and fish.
Similarly, the pulsed electric field (PEF) process uses a high voltage electric pulse to break the cell walls within a food product and destroy harmful microbes. Campden BRI is among the companies offering processes like HPP and PEF to ensure food safety, but such processes may provide additional benefits that fit with demand for cleaner labels. The organisation found that using PEF on potatoes to be used for chips, for example, led to sweeter tasting chips without any additional oil absorption.
Clean label processes can be used to improve products’ ingredient lists in other ways too. TNO Innovation has developed a technique using superheated steam, for example, that can modify ingredients like starch or flour to improve their functionality, and can be used to finish frying certain products to reduce total fat content.
Fermentation is another process being used to produce established ingredients in a way that consumers may consider more natural, such as sweeteners or preservatives. And certain processing technologies may give products the added bonus of a premium positioning, such as cold pressing or cold brewing for juices, vegetable oils, teas and coffees, among others.
When developing clean label products, manufacturers must contend with a rapidly evolving concept that encompasses allergens, artificial ingredients, animal welfare, responsible sourcing and sustainability. Consumer expectations have multiplied as the clean label trend has matured. Therefore, manufacturers should take a multifaceted approach that takes into account all aspects of ingredient sourcing and formulation – including processing.
Plastic packaging reduction requires industry rethink
6 Jan 2023
The food and beverage sector is calling for industry-wide collaboration and business model updates to reduce the environmental impact of plastic packaging.Read more
Misleading nutrition claims mask true sugar levels in baby food
5 Jan 2023
Some baby and toddler food and drink products, sweetened with fruit concentrate, contain up to four teaspoons of sugar per serving yet are marketed as having ‘no added sugar’, according to a survey by Action on Sugar.Read more
Asian beverage brands deal with rising costs
4 Jan 2023
Decreasing bottle sizes or increasing prices? Asian beverage brands are finding “creative approaches” to manage rising costs, according to industry analysts.Read more
Preserving the freshness of food to fight waste
3 Jan 2023
Several companies are producing products that absorb ethylene, the hormone that causes food to ripen, in attempt to reduce food waste.Read more
Value-seeking US consumers cut back on food spending
2 Jan 2023
Cheaper items, smaller sizes, and shorter grocery lists: inflationary effects coupled with a global long-term recession are set to continue shaping food spending habits, according to a recent Rabobank report.Read more
Opportunities grow for lower-caffeine coffee
23 Dec 2022
Many consumers want the mental focus of caffeine without the jitters, prompting a wave of product development such as “half caffeine” ground coffee or ready-to-drink (RTD) cold brew blended with relaxing botanicals.Read more
Superfrau upcycles liquid whey for energy drinks
22 Dec 2022
US company Superfrau turns surplus whey into sustainable, upcycled-certified dairy products for the recovery drinks market.Read more
Malaysian brand Nanka brings jackfruit range to Europe
21 Dec 2022
Malaysian brand Nanka is expanding to new Asian and European markets with its fast and ready-to-eat plant-based products based on jackfruit.Read more
Is the UK on target to meet its 2025 Plastics Pact?
20 Dec 2022
Major food industry players, including Arla, Kerry, PepsiCo and TerraCycle, have signed the UK’s voluntary Plastic Pact to reduce plastic from the supply chain – but are they on track to meet their targets?Read more
Chinese food brand wants to give customers ‘the full experience’
16 Dec 2022
Food brand Xiao Chi Jie is revamping Chinese cuisine for the modern American consumer. The Washington-based company sells regional Chinese specialties like soup dumplings, noodle kits, and barbeque skewers direct-to-consumer in the US.Read more