Natural antioxidants can bring their own flavors to a formulation, which depending on the application can have a positive or negative impact on the final product.

Cleaning up the label

Antioxidants come in two schools, synthetic and natural. Think BHA, BHT and TBHQ. “Today, there is a higher demand to remove synthetic antioxidants from food, which creates challenges to keep the flavor and odor of foods from becoming rancid over the expected shelf life,” Mr. Wyatt said.

There will always be a need for synthetic antioxidants, but times are changing with clean-label preferences growing. “The demand for clean label depends on the brand’s objective,” explained Courtney Schwartz, senior marketing communications manager, Kemin. “Consumers purchasing a value brand are typically more cost conscious; meaning, it may not make sense to convert from synthetic to natural ingredients as they can be more expensive. However, consumer demand for more transparency in the manufacturing process and shorter, easy-to-read ingredient decks has substantially increased over the last few years, driving manufacturer demand for efficacious, natural solutions.”

There are, however, naturally sourced antioxidants that line up with clean-label expectations, even if there is confusion as to what constitutes natural antioxidants and what doesn’t. Mixed tocopherols are natural antioxidants that consumers may not realize are natural and vice versa. “Vitamin-based antioxidant solutions such as ascorbyl palmitate are generally perceived as clean label but are still synthetically produced,” said Jim Anderson, North America sales manager, Camlin Fine Sciences.

However, that hasn’t stopped suppliers from pursuing clean-label solutions to rancidity. “Today’s focus on clean-label solutions have challenged the antioxidant industry to ideate new solutions including botanical extracts high in antioxidant activity such as rosemary and green tea in addition to tocopherols,” Mr. Anderson continued.

These botanical extracts, sometimes referred to as flavor extracts, have oxygen-scavenging properties and include rosemary, green tea, chamomile and acerola. They all offer different components that provide their antioxidant effect, Mr. Wyatt explained. “Often, combinations of the extracts will provide a synergistic antioxidant effect,” he said. DuPont’s Guardian Chelox line combines natural extracts with chelators to provide a naturally sourced antioxidant system alternative to synthetic antioxidants.

Chelators are ingredients that bind to iron or other minerals present in the formulation. Iron promotes rancidity, thus bakery products in which iron is present will require chelators as a part of their oxidation management solutions. Kalsec’s Duralox Oxidation Management System can combine plant extracts along with chelators to create a protective antioxidant system.

Camlin Fine Sciences also works with bakers to create custom antioxidant systems to fit their needs.

Important questions to consider when choosing antioxidant ingredients can be found in the next segment.