G.M.O. issue may affect enzymes

by Jeff Gelski
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CHICAGO — Want to remove azodicarbonamide (ADA) from your product? There’s a good chance enzymes or enzyme blends will fit in formulation solutions. In the search for clean or simple labels, enzymes have replaced ADA and other chemical-sounding ingredients such as sodium stearoyl lactylate (SSL).

Another issue, however, may affect how consumers view enzymes. For example, will Subway, which wants to remove ADA from its bread, worry about having bioengineered ingredients in its bread?

“A lot of the enzymes are genetically modified, a lot of the most productive ones are genetically modified,” said Troy Boutte, Ph.D., group manager, bakery and fats and oils innovations for DuPont Nutrition & Health, during a March 3 session at the American Society of Baking’s BakingTech 2014 in Chicago.

Enzymes largely are considered natural right now, Dr. Boutte said, but lawsuits over all-natural promotions should concern the food industry. Such lawsuits may focus on whether products with bioengineered ingredients may be promoted as natural.

Using non-bioengineered enzymes may be less effective than using bioengineered enzymes, he said.

“It’s clear that people don’t really understand what genetic modification is,” Dr. Boutte said.

A non-bioengineered enzyme, for one example, may involve fermentation and soy sauce, he said. Enzymes may be extracted during fermentation.

“Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be just one enzyme that we’re getting,” he said. “We’re getting all the enzymes.”

The goal may be just an amylase enzyme, not any other forms of enzymes, like xylanase.

“I can still make it work,” he said. “It just won’t be quite as selective as I might like.”

In an example of a bioengineered enzyme, a gene found in nature is transferred from one organism to another organism, he said. Growing the second organism in a manufacturing setting may produce mostly just the desired enzyme. For another example, a protein-engineered enzyme may work more efficiently in a system. The protein may be altered to work better in a desired product, such as one with a low pH or one with a high pH.

Even with the bioengineering issue looming, Dr. Boutte still expects the use of enzymes for dough strengthening and conditioning to keep increasing.

“ADA seems to be moving out, and likely some of the other oxidants seem to be next on the list,” he said.
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