Protein-packed recovery and renewal

by Charlotte Atchley
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Dairy and egg ingredients deliver nutrition and function. Formulators can distill their powerhouse properties to isolate them as they want, or they can take advantage of all these ingredients have to offer.

Egg products continue to recover from last year’s avian influenza (AI) outbreak. At the beginning of this year, half of the laying hens lost to the outbreak had been replaced, and the Egg Industry Center predicted that full stocks may occur by mid-2016 if the current pace of recovery remains on pace.  

“The egg market is recovering quite well from last year’s AI outbreaks,” said Jonathan Spurway, vice-president of marketing, Rembrandt Inc. “Most farms are on track to be fully repopulated by the end of 2016, ahead of what was originally estimated. In terms of pricing, the market recovered quicker than most experts believed it would."

After prices tripled to record highs this past summer due to tight supply, they have fallen sharply as egg production recovered. Year-end prices for breaking eggs were below both pre-AI and year-ago levels, but prices for egg products were still largely above pre-AI levels. Going forward, the egg industry is working to protect its supplies from another such crisis.

“US egg farmers are pleased with the overall recovery after the avian influenza crisis and are committed to sustaining a healthy and viable egg industry,” said Chad Gregory, president, United Egg Producers. “Together with their stakeholders, farmers are working diligently to protect their flocks and maintain high levels of biosecurity on their farms to prevent disease while focusing on a swift and full restoration of US egg production.”

Dairy ingredient prices are also down thanks to increased supply. Milk production in the US for February was up 4.6% from February 2015, and low exports are keeping that supply in the US.

This may be concerning for suppliers, but bakers can take advantage of the nutritive and functional advantages of these ingredients at lower prices.

Nutritional powerhouses

Eggs and dairy ingredients deliver a plethora of nutritional benefits, including high levels of protein and a multitude of vitamins and other nutrients.

One egg provides 13 vitamins and minerals and 6 g protein at 70 Cal. Commercial bakers use eggs in bulk powdered or liquid form in whole, whites-only and yolks-only styles, rather than shell eggs. While the protein-rich whites are enormously popular in fast-food settings, the fact remains that whole eggs are a nutrient-dense ingredient. Among the vitamins and minerals eggs are the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, and they provide a food source of vitamin D.

Proteins present in eggs include many necessary for the human body to function. “Eggs provide one of the highest quality proteins of any food available — a perfect 1.0, according to the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS), meaning egg protein contains all of the essential amino acids in a readily bioavailable form,” said John Howeth, senior vice-president, foodservice and egg product marketing, American Egg Board.

These acids, the building blocks for proteins, are termed “essential” because the human body does not create them on its own. Therefore, they must be obtained via diet. Because eggs present many such amino acids in a high digestible matrix, they are a vehicle for fulfilling this nutritional need.  

Dairy ingredients similarly provide a wealth of protein to the human body. “Whey protein is a 100% natural product that is extremely low in calories, cholesterol and fat,” said John Gelley, US sales manager, Arla Foods Ingredients. “At the same time, it also contains a high amount of all the essential amino acids — in excess of the WHO/FAO recommendations, in fact.”

Whey is a by-product of cheesemaking and retains about 20% of the total milk proteins, practically all of its water-soluble vitamins and minerals, and most of its lactose and noncasein proteins. “Because whey protein has an un-rounded PDCAAS greater than one, it can be used alone or in blends to support protein-content claims expressed as percent of daily value without any Food and Drug Administration-mandated corrections for protein quality,” said Craig Sherwin, research director, Davisco.

To improve on the nutritional value of its whey protein ingredients, Davisco removed less desirable components such as lactose and fat, which improves nutrient density without adding anything to the ingredient. “By purifying proteins found naturally in milk, dairy companies have created highly nutrient-dense ingredients that are perfect for protein fortification,” Mr. Sherwin said.

Davisco’s whey protein isolate with the highest purity contains 97.5% protein and the highest levels of branched chain amino acids, (BCAA) which promote lean body mass. The whey protein isolate also does not contain the casein fraction, therefore maximizing BCAA content.

Agropur has seen the biggest enhancement in its dairy and egg ingredients from further processing the eggs and dairy and through farming and harvesting practices. Agropur Ingredients has pursued more organically raised sources and the removal of GMOs. “On the other side with the advancements in technology, we are able to further process these products by fractionating certain components of both egg and dairy,” said Phil Blanchard, bakery manager, Agropur.

Dairy ingredients aren’t limited to whey, however. “Dairy can come into play from a variety of products — non-fat, buttermilk, whey proteins, cultured dairy, whole milk, etc.,” Mr. Blanchard said. “Like the Egg, dairy ingredients can bring in a lot of protein, healthy fats, as well as important vitamins and minerals. In addition to those, dairy ingredients can also bring a lot of natural sugars removing to need for more added sugars.”

More recognizable to the end consumer are cheese, cream and butter. Not only do these add flavor and clean up a food’s ingredient list, they also bring with them fats, proteins, minerals and vitamins.

“Dairy ingredients made with real cheese, cream and butter are commonly used in many bakery products to add nutritive value where a formulation may lack some essential amino acids and minerals,” said Diane Kussy, R&D technical services manager at Land O’Lakes Ingredients.

The fats in dairy ingredients deliver satiety and help people feel full on less. On top of the protein benefit, these ingredients are natural sources of calcium and vitamin D.

Land O’Lakes Ingredients has formulated its dairy ingredients without partially hydrogenated oils, artificial flavoring and includes a line of dairy ingredients with no FD&C colors. There are also solutions with lower sodium levels. “If product developers are looking for a cheese flavor to incorporate into their bakery application, we’ll often combine cheese ingredients with other dairy ingredients such as whey, nonfat dry milk and whey protein concentrate to provide an economical and well-balanced cheese seasoning,” Ms. Kussy said.

Such compound ingredients help bakers and snack producers get the most out of flavors and other dairy ingredients not only in nutrition but also on their ingredient labels.

Bursting with functionality

Dairy and eggs also provide plenty of function to formulations. Both ingredients provide a wealth of different properties, and the specific parts of the egg and individual proteins in dairy products can be separated out for specific functions.

“When eggs are included as an ingredient, their primary role is functionality, not nutrition,” Mr. Howeth said. “Egg ingredients do not greatly influence the nutrition label of the finished baked product because they’re used at low levels in most bakery formulations.”

However, eggs can deliver more than 20 different functions. “Egg products supply food manufacturers with great taste and incredible functionality, such as emulsification, aeration, binding or coagulation, and often perform multiple roles within a single application,” he continued. That’s in addition to egg’s, foaming and whipping properties.

Each part of the egg, the yolk and the white, contribute to these properties, and bakers can isolate those parts of the egg based on their needs. The proteins in egg whites help trap air, prevent staling and provide strength to a baked good’s structure. The protein’s conalbumin, globulins, ovalbumin and ovomucin lend egg whites the ability to foam six to eight times greater in volume than the original liquid. Apply heat in the form of baking, and these proteins form a reinforced network to build strength and maintain volume.

Many egg yolk proteins are effective emulsifiers having a combination of amino acids that like water and others that like the lipid or oil phase. Emulsifiers aid in formation of small air bubbles during mixing, which promotes batter aeration and results in increased final volume of the cake. “When egg proteins are physically mixed and heated, they begin to unfold or denature and establish a cross-linked network to hold in gases, creating a relatively stable foam of tiny air bubbles, which help to create crumb structure in the baked cake,” Mr. Howeth said.

The form egg ingredients take can also be beneficial. “While eggs have been traditionally used in baked goods, improved egg product functionality can present some opportunities,” Mr. Spurway said. “Dried egg products can be used in substitution for liquid egg products to reduce refrigeration needs/costs, reduce shelf life concerns associated with liquid egg products and still maintain the desired functionality.”

Another example he gave was high whip dried egg whites can improve cake height, whipping or whip stability in angel food cake or meringue cookies. Enzyme modified egg products, such as Rembrandt’s egg product line, can provide higher emulsification properties in baked goods. “This could be a good option for customers in the gluten-free space that rely on eggs to help maintain texture and structure to baked goods,” he said.

Dairy ingredients can have an impact on dough absorption, mixing, fermentation rate and baking times. They can improve structure, texture, color and dough volume. Depending on the type of dairy ingredient chosen, bakers can accomplish many things at once.

“Denatured whey proteins add functionality such as moisture retention, fat reduction and emulsification,” Mr. Blanchard said. “Low-protein whey helps reduce fat, sugar and salt without compromising flavor, and combining whey protein with fibers can mimic eggs’ complex functionality.”

Proteins not only provide nutrition, but they also link together to create the structure of baked goods. That’s what makes the proteins in dairy ingredients so effective. “Whey protein is among the most soluble of food proteins, and this makes working with it in baking applications very easy,” Mr. Sherwin said. “Some proteins are very slow to hydrate or require a lot of extra water, and this can make the dough or batter sticky and difficult to bake, yielding a poor texture.”

Just as egg whites and yolks carry different properties and can be separated for optimal functionality, proteins in dairy ingredients also can perform unique functions. Arla Food Ingredients practices this to provide formulators with options when it comes to dairy ingredients. “Our proteins are separated to isolate the type of protein required for a specific application where a certain functionality is required,” Mr. Gelley said. “We tailor our whey protein solutions to specific applications and formulas to meet our customers’ exact requirements.”

Arla Food Ingredients has been using dairy ingredients in innovative ways, for example, as a crust glazing agent in place of eggs or whey protein as protein enrichment that doesn’t compromise taste or texture.

The fats and lactose in dairy ingredients also aid in function. Fat contributes to tenderness, richness and mouthfeel while lactose leads to sweet caramel flavor and golden brown color. “In addition to improving flavor and enhancing browning, dairy ingredients also improve water-binding capacity, allowing the bakery product to remain fresher longer,” Ms. Kussy said.

With so many versatile functions and packed with nutrition, dairy and egg ingredients can be important assets to bakery formulations today.
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