Three considerations when choosing emulsifiers

by Jeff Gelski
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Non-pho oils are set to become a necessity while sustainability and non-G.M.O. are other factors.

When choosing emulsifiers, food and beverage formulators may run into well-known issues. Non-partially hydrogenated oils, non-bioengineered/non-G.M.O. ingredients and sustainably sourced palm-based emulsifiers are the three largest emulsifier trends in the opinion of Jim Robertson, global product manager of emulsifiers for Corbion Caravan, Lenexa, Kas.

The Food and Drug Administration in the June 17, 2015, issue of the Federal Register said it had determined there is no longer a consensus among qualified experts that partially hydrogenated oils (phos), which are the primary dietary source of industrially-produced trans fatty acids, are Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) for any use in human food. Food and beverage companies have until June 18, 2018, to remove phos from product formulations.

Corbion is introducing a line of non-pho emulsifiers under the Ensemble brand, Mr. Robertson said.

“We have re-engineered our widely used pho-based emulsifier portfolio with one goal in mind: to provide a non-pho emulsifier portfolio to deliver drop-in functionality that maintains flavor and texture without sacrificing quality, handling and shelf stability,” he said. “Corbion’s non-pho solutions are formulated to minimize reformulation hurdles and operational disruption, allowing customers to simplify and streamline their reformulation efforts.”

Palm-based emulsifiers offer similar benefits to pho-containing emulsifiers because of their fatty acid profile, said Sheila Rice, regional product manager, emulsifiers for DuPont Nutrition & Health and based in New Century, Kas.

“Palm oil naturally contains roughly 49% saturates, which provide the softening effect in bread crumb softness,” she said. “Other common sources of oil have a range of only 7% to 25% of naturally occurring saturates.”

Palm oil is non-bioengineered, as are several other oils found in emulsifiers. Packaged Facts, Rockville, Md., last year said the global market for food and beverage products sold at retail and made with non-bioengineered/non-G.M.O. ingredients is $550 billion, with the United States accounting for $198 billion, or 36%. Packaged Facts, a market research firm, forecasts the total global market for non-G.M.O. foods and beverages nearly will double by 2019 due to a compound annual growth rate of 15% from 2014-2020.

Non-bioengineered oils that may be used in the production of non-bioengineered emulsifiers include palm oil, palm fractions, palm kernel, olive, sunflower, high- and mid-oleic sunflower, peanut, and coconut oils, Mr. Robertson said.

Ms. Rice said triglycerides (a combination of functional fats and oils) may work as an alternative to bioengineered products.

“The combination and source of the oils will determine its G.M.O. status, and non-G.M.O. versions are available,” she said.

Standard identity preserved soy lecithin and sunflower lecithin are non-bioengineered materials that may work as alternatives to traditional emulsifiers, she said. They are available in two forms, liquid and powdered (de-oiled).

For bread manufacturers, Cargill Texturizing Solutions, Minneapolis, offers liquid and de-oiled soy lecithin as a replacement for monoglycerides and DATEM, which sometimes are made from phos.

Mr. Robertson said mono and diglycerides are used in sweet bakery foods, bread, bakery mixes, dairy, desserts and ice cream, meals and meal centers, snacks, and confectionery. Their functionalities include dough conditioning, aeration, flavor dispersing, lubrication, releasing, thickening, thinning, stabilization, texturizing, solvating and emulsification.

Palsgaard offers Palsgaard SA 6610, a non-bioengineered cake emulsifier. The benefits of using it include decreasing dosages for lower cost-in-use, increasing production capacity and automation, reducing ingredient and product waste, according to the company. Possible applications are stirred or whipped cakes as well as gluten-free or sugar-free items.

While emulsifiers with palm oil may fit with the impending non-pho ban and increasing non-bioengineered awareness, sustainability may become an issue. Companies using palm oil may consider the actions of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. The not-for-profit group unites the palm oil industry in an effort to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil. The R.S.P.O. has developed environmental and social criteria that companies must comply with to produce certified sustainable palm oil.

Mr. Robertson said palm oil, fractionated palm oil and hydrogenated palm oil may be used to produce mono and diglycerides. Corbion, through the R.S.P.O., offers palm-based emulsifiers that are certified mass balance, which involves mixing certified sustainable palm oil with conventional palm oil.

DuPont manufactures the majority of its emulsifier products in Grindsted, Denmark, and DuPont Nutrition & Health sources all its palm oil from there, Ms. Rice said. Through the R.S.P.O., the emulsifiers are part of the mass balance system.

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