Mold Inhibitor: Natural Solution
by Laurie Gorton
No one likes finding mold on baked foods, so bakers use antimicrobials. Sprayed on the finished product or incorporated into the dough, these ingredients inhibit the growth of molds, wild yeasts and bacteria. The problem is that, despite their original sources, most antimicrobials are now chemically synthesized, and that can turn off consumers seeking foods free from artificial ingredients.
Additionally, conventional antimicrobials, specifically the propionates, can come with a pungent smell and off-flavor.
In 2010, Danisco USA, New Century, KS, introduced Natamax B. A trademarked form of natamycin, an antifungal compound produced by bacterial fermentation, it qualifies as natural and has been self-affirmed as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS).
Natamycin, by itself, has low solubility, and when applied as a surface spray, the solution must be constantly agitated to keep the antimicrobial dispersed.
Seeking to improve natamycin’s solubility, Danisco developed Natamax B Plus — a complex of the antifungal with cyclodextrins. The result is a 98%-soluble powder that can be mixed into a tank of water and used without additional agitation.
“What is new is the solubility,” said Nathalie Brosse, global business director, cultures bioprotection, Danisco France SAS, Paris, France. She is supervising the US launch of Natamycin B Plus. “The product is well-dispersed. It makes a solution, not a suspension. There is no precipitation in the tank, and the solution can be held up to seven days plus. Because Natamax B Plus is in solution, you achieve good dispersion over baked goods, superior to standard sprayed antifungals.”
Natamycin is a fermentation product of the Streptomyces natalensis bacteria. Known for 30-plus years, it inhibits growth of yeasts and mold by disrupting the fungal cell membranes. It lacks acute toxicity and does not harm normal intestinal flora. It is widely used in the EU, US, much of South America and Eastern Europe as well as several Middle Eastern countries.
“In tests, Natamax B Plus increased the efficiency of fungal protection in terms of shelf life by more than three times that of competitive antifungals,” Ms. Brosse said. Its low dosage levels — 7 to 14 ppm natamycin for most baked foods — make it comparable in cost to current antifungal treatments.
Danisco examined the new product in a wide variety of baked foods including pan bread, English muffins and tortillas. For bread, it supported mold-free shelf life of more than 30 days. The company is now testing it with US bakers.
“Unlike the propionates, natamycin is neutral in flavor,” she said. Furthermore, it does not depend on pH as do many chemical preservatives.
Although Danisco produces its natamycin in Denmark, the company makes the complex in the US where a patent covers the complex’s use for baked foods. Certified kosher and halal, the ingredient is nonallergenic. Its description on food packaging is “cyclodextrin, natamycin (natural mold inhibitor).”
To offer users a turnkey solution, Danisco teamed up with Spraying Systems Co., Wheaton, IL, to devise an effective, consistent and economical spray-on delivery system for Natamax B Plus. To help customers with start-up, Danisco offers support services ranging from assistance with setup and design, model spray units for trials, finished product testing and regulatory support. For additional information on Natamax B Plus, visit www.natamax.com