Pro Tip: A whole plant team effort needs to be at play when converting your entire line to clean label. A group effort can focus on the goals and vision of a clean label project and overcome many of the challenges at cleaning up.


Just the other day, a bakery asked me what they should do about a flour change. The new owners didn’t want to use bromated flour anymore, so they bought a new one. The result? Dough that was weak, didn’t machine well with little oven spring. The quickest fix at that time, without dough improvers, was cutting back absorption and adding more gluten and yeast. 

What’s my point? Oxidizers like ADA and potassium bromate and emulsifiers like SSL, DATEM, CSL and mono- and diglycerides’ function in the bakery system to improve yield and even out variabilities in the system. These ingredients enable bakers to move away from mature wheat flour to green flour and speed up production. While there are enzymatic solutions and ascorbic acid, they do not work as effectively in a plug-and-play scenario. Why? Let’s go back to the bakery.

After removing the bromate, they eventually gave the dough a longer fermentation, clean dough improvers, extended mix times and longer final proofing.

As you can see, the cleaning up of any label takes more than replacing the dough improver component. It takes a team approach to address the many changes a clean label dough will bring to production. Everyone, from the president to the buyer and technical experts, needs to get onto the same page on the goals and the vision of cleaning up.

Replacing oxidizing agents and emulsifiers takes more than just ingredients. It also requires a buyer who understand that flour quality is critical, now more than ever, because your traditional oxidizing crutch has gone away. You need flour with some maturity. Be obsessive about flour quality by incorporating it into a QA program. 

Depending on what ingredient replacement the technical teams select, mix times may shorten due to a weak dough, or they may increase due to enzymes and gluten usage. This places more stress on the mixers, dough dividers and sheeters due to constant adjustments to these control points. With the high turnover in staffing, most plants may never get these critical control points correct, resulting in more product waste. This also causes a shift in the engineering team and their preventative maintenance on the makeup equipment. 

A cleaner dough is more fragile, especially if there is no sponge or pre-ferments involved. This means that it can no longer tolerate higher proofing temperatures with shorter proof times, which will mean slowing down the lines. The leadership overseeing efficiencies needs to realize that efficiencies will be hurt in the short term. 

Lastly, let’s talk about the third shift, which is often the least trained. With the oxidizing agents and emulsifiers taken away, you will likely see more waste levels during this shift. To alleviate waste, most third-shift operators would generally run at lower speeds, affecting your overall efficiencies. Leadership must understand that the third shift is not goofing around but doing their best to deal with what clean label has handed to them.


Lin Carson, PhD is the founder and chief executive officer of Bakerpedia. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.