Antioxidants, a specialized class of functional additives, form the only line of defense against free radicals, the charged molecules responsible for oxidative rancidity. Natural extracts and plant-derived antioxidants can quench free-radicals, thus terminating the autooxidation reactions responsible for off flavors and rancidity. Two experts from Kemin Food Ingredients, Inc., Des Moines, IA — Kristen Robbins, assistant R&D manager, and Betsy Blades, technical marketing manager — discuss these antioxidants for Baking & Snack Formulations Update readers.

Baking & Snack: What is the mechanism by which antioxidants materials restrict oxidation? What does this mean to the shelf life of ingredients and finished baked goods and snacks?

Kristen Robbins: Natural extracts and plant derived antioxidants are considered chain-breaking antioxidants. They quench free-radicals, thus terminating autooxidation reactions. FORTIUM rosemary and rosemary and green tea natural plant extracts, have been shown to delay oxidative changes that occur over time. Delaying oxidative changes means reducing the off-flavors that occur near the end of shelf-life. A decrease in the snack food seasoning intensity is often the first sign of oxidation. Using these extracts helps retain the fresh flavor of the seasoning as well as the overall product. Depending on the freshness of the raw materials, extract usage level, and packaging, natural extracts can increase shelf life by several weeks, if not months.

What should a formulator know about these materials and their usage levels? Are there limits to their use? How must they be labeled in the ingredient listing on packages?

Betsy Blades: Natural extracts derived from plant materials can be labeled as a "natural flavor" in the US. These products are typically effective at levels below their flavor threshold, so the extracts complement, rather than compete with the flavor of the snack food. Our extracts are available in liquid and dry forms, providing the manufacturer flexibility to add the extracts at the most effective stage for their product and process. It is wise to test various options to deliver a solution that meets each customers' unique needs.

What antioxidant ingredients does Kemin Food Ingredients offer for bakery and snack applications?

Ms. Blades: Fortium brand natural extracts and plant derived antioxidants include an extensive line of TBHQ, mixed tocopherols, rosemary and rosemary and green tea extracts. Fortium can conserve the appearance, taste and nutritional value of many bakery and snack applications without changing their flavor, color or odor profiles. These antioxidants and natural plant extracts can be added to oil used for frying bakery and snack food items, as an ingredient in the product formulation or included in a seasoning packet. The Fortium products can be used in a variety of applications including cereals, nuts, bread, whole grain products, chips and many others.