Bulking up gluten-free’s shelf life

by Charlotte Atchley
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Consumers searching for gluten-free baked goods often find themselves in the freezer aisle among ice cream, TV dinners and vegetables. Bread and other gluten-free products frequently need to be stored in the freezer to maximize their shelf life. While this works to prolong the bread’s life, it does require some consumer education and planning ahead. Convenience is paramount.

“Frozen storage is good for helping prolong the freshness of the product but not as good for convenience,” said Elizabeth Arndt, Ph.D., director of R.&D. at ConAgra Mills, Omaha. “Consumers want more ready-to-eat, on-the-go items.”

Packaging innovations such as modified atmosphere packaging can maintain shelf life outside of the freezer, but formulators are also on the lookout for ingredients that can achieve the same result. Ingredion recently launched a highly functional starch-based solution to provide some shelf-life benefits, said Patrick O’Brien, the company’s bakery marketing manager.

PGP International offers a rice-based dough strengthener that gives shelf life extension. While it may be used with conventional products it also works in gluten-free applications.

“Ideally, retailers aim to have shelf-stable gluten-free products alongside their other shelf-stable gluten-free products or in the bakery department,” said Jennifer Williams, senior applications scientist, Penford Foods Ingredients. Shelf-life extension is an ongoing project at the company, which works with various gums, hydrocolloids and enzymes to address the issue, depending on the baker’s other needs.
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