CHICAGO— There are many facets to shelf life that bakers need to consider when looking at solutions to their shelf life challenges. That was the crux of David Guilfoyle’s session “Pushing the Boundaries of Freshness Through Hurdle Technology” at the American Society of Baking’s BakingTech conference in Chicago this week.
Mr. Guilfoyle, group manager of bakery and fats & oils for DuPont Nutrition & Health, detailed how with today’s ingredients bakers can achieve a wide range of shelf life goals, from short shelf life, 0 to 3 days, to traditional shelf life, 4 to 14 days, to extended shelf life (ESL), 15 to 30 days, to hyper extended shelf life (HESL), 30+ days.
Shelf life is critical because it improves bread quality throughout the consumer experience, reduces waste, allows bakers to change their distribution model and ensures food is safe for consumption. There are three sides of ensuring bakers maintain product quality throughout the duration of the desired shelf life: anti-staling, antimicrobials and antioxidants. Each of these facets may become more important as shelf life goals change.
“Antioxidants tend to be overlooked as a part of shelf life, but they become important if you’re trying to extend shelf life beyond 21 days,” Mr. Guilfoyle explained.
Anti-staling agents are key to maintaining quality, the softness and moistness of a loaf of bread. Enzymes, emulsifiers and hydrocolloids can help bakers reach those goals. It’s important, however, when looking at anti-staling, that bakers understand any label restrictions that might limit the ingredients they use. Application is also an important consideration, Mr. Guilfoyle said. A high-fat application would not work well with lipases because of the off-flavors that could occur.
“You need to carefully select the enzymes you use so you don’t create more problems by solving your shelf life issue,” he said.
The antimicrobial piece of shelf life extension inhibits the growth of microorganisms. Bakers can choose either a clean label or synthetic solution and should consider whether the solution will be added to the formula or the exterior of the product, the sensory impact on the finished product and ease-of-use.
One of the biggest detriments to quality deterioration is oxidation. Rancidity, the complete oxidation of fats and oils, results in unpleasant taste and odors in the food. Antioxidants can help stave off this natural process. Primary antioxidants like phenolics, tocopherols, BHT and TBHQ are free radical scavengers, delaying the oxidation process. Secondary antioxidants regenerate these primary antioxidants.
When choosing an antioxidant, bakers need to weigh not only clean label considerations, sensory impact, regulations, but also whether to use fat- or water-soluble antioxidant. This decision will be dependent on whether the formulation is high-fat or high-water.
As more food is purchased online and bakers look into a warehouse model of distribution instead of D.S.D. to appease certain customers, HESL enters the spotlight. As product pushes into the HESL realm of shelf life, it’s important for bakers to consider all aspects of the product: moistness, softness, resilience, stackability, flavor, freshness, mold-free and food safety. The more ingredient technology added to the product, the more bakers will need to keep an eye on all these product characteristics.
Whether bakers want to go to clean label or try to achieve HESL, there is a wealth of ingredients that can help achieve those goals.
“Both clean label and HESL have their place in the market,” Mr. Guilfoyle said. “It all comes down to what you want to do in the market.”