Fortifying for levels and labels
The new Nutrition Facts Panel creates opportunities, but sensory issues still need addressing.

KANSAS CITY — New reasons to fortify foods and beverages, especially with vitamin D and potassium, appeared in 2016, but well-known challenges still exist. Such sensory issues as off-flavors may occur, and adding enough of a vitamin or a mineral to achieve a claim may be difficult.

The Food and Drug Administration in the May 27 issue of the Federal Register presented upcoming changes to the Nutrition Facts Panel. Vitamin D and potassium will be mandated to appear on the panel. The compliance date is July 26, 2018, for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales and July 26, 2019, for manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual sales.

Since the new labeling requirements only surfaced in May, MORRE-Tec Industries, Inc., Union, N.J., has had little chance to monitor any effect on customer requests for vitamin D and potassium, said Bill Ludlum, chief operating officer.

“It normally takes many months for such things to drive interest and longer to stimulate requests,” he said. “This can be helped by educational stimulus, although the F.D.A. is very good at explaining rationale.

“It is not so easy for consumers or manufacturers to access data at an early stage. In our view it is highly significant that the F.D.A. is now giving this area of oversight the attention that it deserves, and we are buoyed by the apparent recognition of the importance and multi-functional role vitamin D plays in human health, for example.”

The number of requests for vitamin D and potassium fortification has been “very modest” up to this point, said Sam Wright IV, chief executive officer of The Wright Group, Lafayette, La. Still, many food and beverage products may be good vehicles for vitamin D and potassium fortification, he said.

“Bars, shakes, bakery products and functional beverages are leading product forms that come to mind,” Mr. Wright said. “Potassium can have a metallic, unpleasant taste, which can be dealt with via microencapsulation technology and/or flavoring and sweetening systems.”

The International Food Information Council Foundation’s 2016 Food and Health Survey found 49% of respondents said they look at the Nutrition Facts Panel when deciding whether to purchase a food or beverage. When asked what they were trying to consume more of, 56% said vitamins and 48% said potassium.

When adding vitamins and minerals to applications, formulators need to be aware of stability, taste, color, solubility, interactions between ingredients, shelf-life requirements and the overall dynamics within the nutrient package, 
Mr. Wright said.

“In some cases, it might be wise to consider microencapsulation of problem ingredients to enhance stability and improve taste and other organoleptic considerations,” he said.

Vitamin D for bone health

The F.D.A., in explaining why it mandated the listing of vitamin D on the Nutrition Facts Panel, cited the benefits of vitamin D intakes on bone health, inadequate intakes of vitamin D, and the high prevalence of osteoporosis and osteopenia among the general U.S. population.

MORRE-Tec added to its ability to offer vitamin D, as well as vitamin A and vitamin E, by acquiring Vitacyclix L.L.C. earlier this year.

“The flagship area of water-solubilized fat-soluble vitamins (especially vitamins A and D) was key since Vitacyclix (was) highly instrumental in the early fortification of milk, dairy products and juices in the U.S.A. and in doing so helped to create the market now known as functional food,” Mr. Ludlum said. “This credibility was important and has meant that the products have a wealth of history and a quality staged development behind them.”

The group of products from Vitacyclix has a significant market on its own and also as part of a portfolio when combined with some of MORRE-Tec’s minerals and electrolyte blends, said Michael Glass, vice-president, director of functional and nutritional ingredients (FUNU) for MORRE-Tec.

“This has allowed the exploration of a significant number of niche areas that have perhaps been neglected in the past,” he said. “We can now develop a range of vitamin (water-based) and mineral products for various health and lifestyle-related areas that truly need specific inexpensive solutions. For example, we can provide nutritional and functional products to support bariatric patients and others where poor vitamin absorption affects them significantly. The unique Vitacyclix water-solubilized vitamins solve this problem.”

Lallemand, Montreal, offers VitaD yeast, which is exposed to a source of light, naturally transforming the sterols present in yeast into vitamin D. Lallemand VitaD yeast products are non-fortified and vegetarian sources of vitamin D.

A new D.V. for potassium

The F.D.A., in explaining why it mandated the listing of potassium, cited the benefits of adequate potassium intake in lowering blood pressure as well as data indicating the low likelihood of potassium adequacy and high prevalence of hypertension among the general population.

When formulating with potassium, companies soon will need to add higher absolute levels to achieve percentage claims. The F.D.A. established a Daily Value (D.V.) of 4,700 mg for potassium, which is up from the previous D.V. of 3,500 mg.

“Potassium has always been a challenge because of the high Daily Value,” said Alice Wilkinson, vice-president of nutritional innovation for Watson, Inc., West Haven, Conn. “Typical sources like potassium chloride, potassium citrate and potassium phosphate all contribute to off flavors. Watson has developed a thin layer encapsulation to help mask the taste.”

Besides potassium, other minerals, including calcium, phosphorous and magnesium, will see an increase in their Daily Value, she said. The increases will alter how companies may market claims such as “good source” or “excellent source” of the minerals. The F.D.A., however, decreased the Daily Value for other vitamins and minerals, including biotin of the vitamin B complex, she said.

“Each company is going to have to decide how they want to proceed,” Ms. Wilkinson said. “Do they want to deliver the same nutrient levels to their customer as they have been and have the label look entirely different or do they want the customer to see as little change as possible so increase and decrease all of their fortification to match the new D.V.? Some of the minerals that went up (potassium, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium) already were challenging to work with as their large requirements meant an increased effect on flavor, pH, texture, etc. This will be further magnified.

“Also the units of measures have changed for some nutrients. The conversions are not that simple. Care will have to be taken so the new labels are accurate.”

Potassium is found in some sodium reduction ingredients. NuTek Food Science, L.L.C., Omaha, Neb., offers NuTek, a potassium salt. Cain Food Industries, Inc., Dallas, in 2013 signed an agreement to be the exclusive broker and distributor of NuTek for the grain-based foods industry in the United States.

Potassium bicarbonates may be used as direct replacements for sodium bicarbonates in leavening applications, according to Church & Dwight, Inc., Ewing, N.J. The company’s Flow-K potassium bicarbonate has 39.06 grams of potassium per 100 grams and may be used in such baked foods as biscuits, muffins, cookies, cakes and pancakes. Flow-K has no metallic or fish taste, according to Church & Dwight.

The functional beverage market may be an avenue for potassium fortification, too. New drinks such as flavored, plain and sparkling waters, protein drinks and fruit smoothies are excellent vehicles for providing extra potassium, said Rob Greenfield, technical consultant, FUNU MTI, for MORRE-Tec.

“However, these new functional drinks are not necessarily suited to fortification with vitamin D because vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that does not mix with water,” he said. “Vitamin D needs to be formulated in the proper way to achieve water solubility as well as optimal absorption into the body after it is ingested. The Vitacyclix water-solubilized vitamin D products are perfectly suited for fortification of beverages and can be combined to create novel water-soluble vitamin and mineral mixes. This is another key reason for acquisition of the Vitacyclix product line.”