Taste differences, functional changes, shelf life — a variety of factors must be considered when working with whole-grain formulations, according to Brook Carson, technical product manager, ADM Milling. She outlines the key aspects involved and reviews labeling rules for products made with whole grains.

Baking & Snack: What kind of issues do formulators run into when working with whole grains? How are these usually resolved? Which is more important: texture or taste?

Brook Carson: Some functionality differences that might occur when working with whole grains include changes in texture, absorption and strength. Balancing the granulation of the whole grain, the amount of water required, and adding time to allow for proper absorption are all ways to resolve changes in the finished product texture.

The taste difference is due to the additional tannins found in the bran of the grain. Whiter whole grain varieties typically contain fewer tannins which results in a less bitter taste. Differences in taste can also be overcome with added sweetness or with a masking agent.

When flour is milled from whole grains, the oils in the bran and germ can cause stability problems for products with long shelf lives. What is ADM Milling doing to address this situation?

Whole grain products typically have a shorter shelf than their refined counterparts. Shelf life is limited to three to six months, and it is recommended that the products be kept under clean, dry, ambient conditions. In addition, the bran and germ can be stabilized with heat treatment to reduce enzyme activity.

Does all the flour have to be whole grain? (I think I know the answer, but I’d like an expert to talk about this, particularly in light of the 51% rule that seems to pertain.)

Labeling information can be found at the following links:
Regarding the grain itself:
Regarding the finished food:

Surety of supply for ingredients is always a concern for consumer package goods companies like bakers. What does ADM Milling bring to the table to address this matter?

ADM Milling has an intricate footprint of strategically located flour mills across North America. This allows a backup system that ensures our customers will not run out of flour. In addition, ADM also has one of the world’s largest transportation networks, allowing our customers to be confident their product will get to the right place at the right time.