American consumers’ demand for non-genetically modified (non-GMO) food is still relatively young, but it’s picking up speed on the heels of their increased awareness of — or at the very least, need to know — what’s in their food. Just look at the great struggle for a national standard on GMO labeling as opposed to state-by-state regulations. Bakers across the country tremble at the thought of having to modify labeling, or even product, based on what state it might be shipped to. 

In light of this, any opportunity to use a non-GMO ingredient is a chance to give consumers peace of mind and lift pressure off a baker’s shoulders.

With an increase in the amount of genetically modified soy crops, Sternchemie, Hamburg, Germany, sought to assist bakers by developing LeciStar S, a liquid sunflower lecithin, as an alternative to soy lecithin that is applicable in baked foods and chocolate. “More and more companies are switching to sunflower seeds as a source of lecithin because of the rapid rise in cross-contamination between GMO and non-GMO soy,” said Michael Heidland, sales director for Sternchemie.

Part of what makes sunflower lecithin a viable non-GMO option is that there is no risk for genetic modification with sunflower seeds. “There is currently no genetically modified sunflower seed anywhere in the world,” said Dr. Waldemar Buxmann, Sternchemie director, R&D, pointing out that there is no need for labeling with sunflower seed products. “Nevertheless, our sunflower lecithin goes through the same rigorous

quality controls as soy and canola lecithin.”

Once the company was able to refine raw lecithin to a greater degree than normal standards, Sternchemie upgraded its process to create a sunflower lecithin on par with soy in terms of functionality. Therefore, making the switch from soy to sunflower lecithin can be almost seamless.

Sunflower lecithin can be dosed similarly to soy, according Dr. Buxmann. Specifically, the amount will depend on the product and formulation with the standard dosing being 0.1 to 0.5% lecithin by formula weight basis. Baked goods containing fat would need a slightly higher dose.

Sternchemie developed two versions of the product after conducting extensive tests in its in-house test bakery: LeciStar S 200 and LeciStar S 300, both which have a light color and slightly nutty sunflower taste. LeciStar 200 is comparable to soy lecithin’s standard yellow color, while LeciStar S 300 is even brighter.

In addition to being a non-GMO alternative to soy lecithin, the LeciStar S line matches soy lecithin in volume yield, improved freshness and, where applicable, crispier crust. It increases the elasticity of the gluten network, making dough easier to work with; it also improves machinability, Dr. Buxmann added. “At the same time, the more even distribution of fat makes it possible to reduce the amount of fat in a formulation than without lecithin,” he said.

 For more information on sunflower lecithin and other Sternchemie product offerings, visit