High in moisture, baked foods can easily succumb to microbial growth a few days after baking. Preventing this undesirable effect often requires addition of preservatives or mold inhibitors such as propionates or sorbates, but increasingly, consumers draw back from such “chemical sounding” materials in ingredient listings. A clear need exists for effective natural mold inhibitor systems to extend the shelf life of chemical-free baked products, according to AB Mauri Fleischmann’s, a supplier of bakery ingredients based at Chesterfield, MO. Its answer is Nabitor, an all-natural mold inhibitor and part of the company’s AB Mauri Bakery Ingredients product line.

“Consumer demand for healthy natural ingredients led us to research alternatives,” said Paul Bright, product development manager, AB Mauri Fleischmann’s , describing work done to replace traditional chemical preservatives as well as stand-alone natural mold inhibitors.

Another supporting factor was the tendency among consumers to associate natural ingredients with health and wellness. “Our team of bakery scientists developed a better clean-label solution for bakers wanting to meet consumer demand for healthier baked products,” said Scott Wise, an AB Mauri Fleischmann’s product development specialist.

Mr. Bright cited a 2007 study by the American Bakers Association. “‘Healthy ingredients’ was the fourth most important issue to consumers when asked about their bread, and 41% said that healthy ingredients were very important to them,” he quoted. “Only 3% said it was not important at all.”


The product’s unique fermentation process uses selected micro-organisms and natural substrates. The compounds produced have a natural inhibitive property that protects against various types of molds and bacteria that occur on bread. Specifically, Nabitor works as a functional replacement for calcium propionate, according to Mr. Bright.

AB Mauri introduced Nabitor in two forms. The original is made with corn syrup solids, while Nabitor WS is produced using wheat starch solids. These materials are cultured by micro-organisms and later combined with citric acid, another naturally fermented product. The mold inhibitors are available as free-flowing powders, packaged in 50-lb (22.6-kg) poly-lined bags.

“The functionality of Nabitor comes from the compounds produced by the microbes grown on the corn syrup or wheat starch solids,” Mr. Bright explained. The resulting compounds are mostly organic acids that are converted into organic acid salts because of the environment in which they are grown. Nabitor’s organic acids combine with citric acid to act synergistically and make their mold-inhibiting action more effective.

Both the original Nabitor and Nabitor WS are recommended for a variety of baked foods including bread, buns, tortillas, sweet doughs and similar applications. Usage rates are reported in the accompanying table. In sponge-and-dough and brew methods, the mold inhibitor should be added to the dough side.

“While both are natural alternatives to other mold inhibitors, the selection of one over the other will be determined by the formula,” Mr. Bright said. “If a baker wants to avoid using corn syrup solids, then Nabitor WS provides wheat starch solids as a natural alternative.”

Additionally, the inhibitors produce a clean flavor profile when used at recommended levels.


The new mold inhibitor systems have found success in commercial bakery applications. Lab shelf-life data and empirical data from customer trials support the benefits claimed, producing exceptional results in comparison with other products providing similar functions.

“In many cases, shelf life was extended beyond the targeted days,” Mr. Bright said. “Usage levels can be adjusted to the baker’s unique formula requirements, allowing bowl-cost savings.”

The labeling advantages are clear as well. “Cultured corn syrup solids, cultured wheat starch and citric acid are all natural and encourage positive consumer-friendly language,” Mr. Bright said. “The term ‘cultured’ is often associated with dairy products such as yogurts, cheeses and other probiotics that offer beneficial health attributes. Citric acid can be associated with fruits by most consumers.”

These ingredients can be listed on food packages as natural preservatives. “And the term ‘no artificial preservatives’ can be used as a claim when used to replace propionates or sorbates,” he added. “AB Mauri Fleischmann’s always recommends that bakers consult with their regulatory advisers for labeling issues.”