As you work on developing your product, one of the keys to success is in knowing the various basic ingredients that are added to foods, as well as how they're used. Six groups of ingredients are commonly found in food products:
Once you have read through this section, you should be able to answer the following questions about the food ingredients covered:
Note that for information about sources for any food ingredients, you can contact the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs at 1-888-466-2372.
The taste sensation of sweetness is one of the most highly regarded attributes of food substances. To most people, sweetness comes from sucrose, the white granular sweetener sold in the supermarket. To the food processor, however, sweetness can come from a number of different carbohydrate sources.
Commercially Available Sugar Products
You can choose from a wide variety of sugar products.
Sugar Beet/Cane Products
Products in this category include the following:
Sucrose is processed in a variety of granulations to fulfil different processing requirements. For example, fine granulated sugar is used for direct consumption, whereas powdered sugar may be used for confections and baking.
Dry granulated sugar is packaged in large, multilayer paper bags. A moisture barrier layer must be present to slow the penetration of moisture and the release of water thatbe stored in dry areas. Generally, if the relative humidity of the air is less than 70 percent, little or no clumping will occur. You can also minimize clumping by rolling the bags every few days to prevent a hard mass from forming. causes clumping.
The clumping of dry sugar is a common problem. To prevent it, bags of sugar should be stored in dry areas. Generally, if the relative humidity of the air is less than 70 percent, little or no clumping will occur. You can also minimize clumping by rolling the bags every few days to prevent a hard mass from forming.
As a rule of thumb, as the size of granulation decreases, there is an increase in tendency for clumping because of the larger crystal surface area. In products such as icing and powdered sugars, about three percent cornstarch is added. The starch absorbs the moisture, which prevents the sugar from clumping.
Corn sugars are classified as any carbohydrate obtained by the partial or complete breakdown of cornstarch. All corn sugars are processed to have a dextrose equivalent of greater than 20.
Maltodextrins are also obtained from the breakdown of cornstarch. However, they possess dextrose equivalents of less than 20.
It is important to define the widely used term "dextrose equivalent" (DE). This is the percent of reducing sugars in the syrup, calculated as dextrose (that is, glucose) on a dry weight basis. The simple way to remember this is that DE indicates what percentage of syrup is glucose.
The trend in industry is to increase the amount of fructose with a corresponding decrease of glucose. This causes a syrup with a higher sweetness level, so that less syrup is required. However, this is often counterbalanced by the higher cost of processing.
In Canada, HFCS is called "glucose-fructose" in the ingredient statement. The proportion of glucose to fructose affects the terminology.
Food processors generally use two types of honey: white and golden. Golden honey imparts more flavour and, as the name implies, is a golden yellow colour. White honey is less sweet and possesses little colour. Golden honey is less expensive than white honey.
Two choices of artificial sweeteners are available:
Functions of Sugars
Sugars have the following functions:
Fats and Oils
The difference between a fat and an oil is its state at room temperature. That is, a fat is solid at room temperature, whereas an oil is liquid. Today, consumer diet and health concerns have forced food processors to choose very carefully the fats and oils they include in their food products. Fat provides twice as many calories per gram as either carbohydrate or protein, and contributes to health problems if consumed in excess. Unfortunately, certain foods can't retain characteristic properties without fat. Knowledge of the properties of fats and oils will help you reduce the level of fat, hopefully without sacrificing quality.
Functions of Fats and Oils
Fats and oils have four functions:
Types of Oil
Most oils purchased by food processors and consumers alike have been refined. That is, they have been previously processed to remove odour, colour and other impurities.
Adding hydrogen to the double bonds of fatty acids makes them saturated. This changes the properties of oils, because increasing the level of saturation increases an oil's melting point. As a result, the oil becomes more stable and more solid at room temperature. That is, it is converted to a solid fat. This process is used in manufacturing margarine and shortening.
Common Food Oils
Some of the common oils available to food processors include:
Unfortunately, fish oils must be slightly or partially hydrogenated (increasing the amount of saturates), otherwise they emit strong fishy odours.
Store oils in a dark place to avoid oxidative rancidity. If they are kept at room temperature, they may have a shelf life of several weeks before they become rancid. If you store them at refrigerator temperatures, they will have a longer shelf life, but will become solid. Generally, the same is true for hydrogenated oils. It's also important that lids are fastened securely to prevent air from entering, which also promotes oxidative rancidity.
Types of Fat
You also have several fats from which to choose.
Your Fat Choices
Fats available to food processors include:
Fats that are used quite regularly can be kept at room temperature for ease of use. Generally, however, fat should be stored at refrigerator temperature to retard hydrolytic rancidity. Fats should also be tightly covered to prevent them from picking up neighbouring flavours and odours.
Selecting the Proper Fat or Oil For Your Food Application
Fats and oils can often be substituted for one another. Therefore, the first decision you must make is whether a solid fat or a liquid oil is best suited for your particular application. Then you must weigh the pros and cons of each type of fat or oil with respect to nutrition, functionality, flavour, shelf-life and cost. Answering the following questions will help sort out which fats or oils are best for your application: 1. Do you specifically need a liquid fat for a salad dressing or for frying applications? 2. Do you need a solid fat to create flakes in your product? 3. Is there enough fat or oil in your product to affect the overall flavour of the product? Is it a positive or negative flavour? 4. Is your ingredient line aimed at being health conscious? 5. What is the expected shelf life of your product? 6. At what temperature will your product be stored? 7. Do you foresee a need for an antioxidant?
Starch is found in plant cells as microscopic granules. It is extracted from plants and used in food products as a thickening and gelling agent. Starch is a large constituent of some plants, especially cereal grains. This is evident when we cook pasta, rice or oatmeal, as they swell and double or even triple in volume.
Functions of Starch
Starch has two functions-thickening and gelling.
Two things must be present in order for starch to swell and thicken a food product: water and heat. By adding heat, water is able to penetrate the starch granule and swelling occurs. The temperature range over which gelling occurs is called the gelatinization range. This range is characteristic for each starch. It is important to heat a starch for a short period at or beyond its gelatinization temperature to remove the flavour of the starch. A few types of modified starches are available that don't require heat for swelling. These are referred to as cold water soluble starches. When water is absorbed by the starch granule in a starch mixture, less water is available to make the mixture fluid. Generally, starch will swell until no more water is available. It is by this means that starches are capable of thickening food products. Note that acids break down the starch molecule, causing them to have less thickening power. A modified starch is required for acidic food products to enhance thickening.
Some starches have the ability to form gels. A gel is a three-dimensional network that is able to trap water. It is easily recognizable, because gels are mouldable and they take the shape of the container. A gel increases the rigidity of the starch mixture and, therefore, a food product. A starch must first be heated, swollen and allowed to cool before any type of gel can be developed. Only after cooling will a gel form. Note that when a gel stands it becomes weaker as a result of trapped water being released. This can create many problems in food products. For example, consumers will reject a pudding that is sitting in fluid.
Types of Starches
There are two kinds of starches-natural starches and those that are modified.
Natural StarchesThe type of starch you use in a food application determines:
Starch from root plants, such as potato and tapioca, are termed waxy starches. They don't form gels, so they're used mainly for thickening. On the other hand, starches from cereal grains, such as corn, wheat and rice, do form gels in food products.
Modified starches are chemically altered to change and improve the properties of natural starches. The following modified starches are available for food processing:
What Type of Starch Do You Need?
Before you begin contacting suppliers to determine which starch will best suit your needs, you must answer the following questions. Suppliers will likely ask these in order to provide you with the most suitable starch for your application. 1. Are water and heat available in your food application? 2. Up to what temperature will your product be heated? 3. Do you require the starch to be cold-water soluble? 4. Do you want thickening only? 5. Does your product require a gel to be formed? 6. Do you require a freeze/thaw stable starch? 7. What is the pH of your product?
The flavour industry was derived from the fragrance and pharmaceutical industry only 150 years ago. Although it is relatively new, analytical techniques have made it possible to identify flavour components in food products down to the parts-per-trillion level. As a result, a huge array of flavours is available to food processors for various applications including confectionery, savoury, baked goods, snack foods and beverages.
Working with Flavours
When you're working with flavours, accuracy and mixing method are vitally important if you want to produce a consistent, reproducible, homogeneous product. Because flavours are highly concentrated, many are dispersed in a solvent such as propylene glycol or alcohol. Usually, the flavour portion of a food product doesn't exceed two percent. It's also important to note that some flavours contain natural or artificial colours that could be transferred to food products. This may be desirable or undesirable, depending on the application.
There is a wide range in cost among flavours. Some can be purchased for as low as $3 a kilogram, while others can cost more than $40 a kilogram. Cost usually depends on the following:
Common Flavour Forms
In Canada, natural, naturally fortified and artificial flavours can be added to most food products. There is no restriction on the level of flavour allowable in foods. It is up to you to exercise safe usage levels. Natural flavour is made entirely of materials derived from the named source of the material. For example, "natural apple flavour" must by law contain only apple extracts. Naturally fortified flavour (W.O.N.F.) is made entirely of natural material. Fifty-one percent must be from the named flavour and the rest must be from other natural sources. (W.O.N.F. is an acronym used in the industry that stands for With Other Natural Flavours.) Artificial or imitation flavour is made entirely or partly of substances that are synthetically produced.
Flavours in Liquid Form
Liquid flavours include the following:
Flavours in Solid Form
Flavours are available as powders in two forms:
Herbs and Spices
Technically, herbs and spices are considered to be flavours because they impart flavour to food. More information about herbs and spices can be found in the next section of this part of the guide.
Flavour enhancers are compounds that increase the taste of any flavour-inherent or added-that is present in food products. These compounds themselves don't have any taste or aroma; they just enhance others. Flavour enhancers are often used in soups, stock cubes and meat products. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavour enhancer that has seen some controversy in the past few years. It is estimated that less than five percent of the population experiences an allergic reaction when MSG is ingested. However, many processors are eliminating it from their food products in order to protect their customers.
Flavours can be quite costly, so it's important to maintain their integrity for as long as possible by storing them properly. They should be tightly sealed and stored in full containers. Even a little headspace can cause flavour deterioration through oxidation. When you order flavours, be sure to get storage directions from the flavour house, because each flavour reacts differently to different conditions. Some flavours, when exposed to too cold conditions, precipitate or crystallize. Others, when exposed to too warm conditions, may lose flavour, oxidize or change colour. Generally, as a flavour ages it will lose its flavour intensity and possibly darken in colour.
Sourcing Food Flavours
Answering these questions will aid you in your search for the perfect flavour,
1. Make a list of descriptors to describe the flavour you wish to impart to your product. (For example, for vanilla ice cream: creamy, sweet, subtle, aromatic, little vanillin notes). 2. What type of flavour do you require? Natural, Artificial, Liquid, Powder 3. Do you wish to have a flavour that contributes colour to your product? Yes, No, Doesn't matter 4. What is your estimation of flavour cost in your product? per unit 5. At what stage in your process will your flavour be added? At very beginning, At very end, Before heating, After heating 6. Does your flavour need to be heat stable? If yes, what is the maximum temperature your product would undergo during manufacturing? Celsius, Fahrenheit
Herbs, Spices and Seasonings
A spice is any root, bud, seed or bark derived from a plant grown in a tropical zone that is used to season foods. A herb comes from a seed plant that has no woody tissue and is grown in a temperate zone. Both herbs and spices vary in colour and flavour from crop to crop. The word "spice" is commonly used to refer to any vegetable substance that flavours food. For example, basil is a herb, but it is often grouped under the spice category. In this section, "spices" will refer to both spices and herbs. Spice combinations and levels used in pre-packaged foods typically stem from consumer trends. For example, 15 to 20 years ago there were very few, if any, salsas on the retail shelves. Today, however, consumers can choose from a wide variety of flavour combinations to best suit their particular taste and intensity of preference. As a food processor, you must be careful, especially when marketing to the mass population, that the majority of your market prefers the level of spice you use. Cultural impacts have been very influential in sparking the idea for new food products in recent years, and we can expect an increase in ethnic foods in the future. This gives you many opportunities to experiment with various spice blends.
Functions of Herbs and Spices
Herbs and spices have the following functions:
Forms of Herbs and Spices
Herbs and spices are available in the following forms:
Some ingredient suppliers have devised a way to standardize the intensity level of ground spices. When you are sourcing ground spices for your product, be sure to ask the supplier if a standardization system is in place.
The main drawback in using this type of spice is that many spice oils lack components that are present in fresh ground spices, resulting in an incomplete flavour.
Storing Herbs and Spices
Most spices should be stored in cool, dry conditions. However, the conditions may vary depending on the processes the spices have undergone. Whole, ground and liquid spices all require different conditions for proper storage. If spices are improperly stored, they could lose their flavour and aroma, and they could pick up water and turn mouldy. It's best to contact a spice house for specifics on the appropriate storage conditions for each product.
Outside Blending Suppliers
Very few manufacturers today blend their own spices. Most food processors buy from suppliers that specialize in blending seasonings. You'll find that using these suppliers is very economical and can often be cheaper than buying individual spices. When you're sourcing seasonings from such suppliers, you can opt to:
Some suppliers will also pack the spice blend in convenient pre-weighed, "unitized" measures to make it easy to use during processing. Because a single spice can be purchased from various parts of the world, spice houses have the challenge of providing spices to their customers that are consistent in flavour and intensity from month to month and from year to year. This is often a difficult task, so it's important that you evaluate the quality of the supplier. That is, consider the supplier's reliability, hygiene record, manufacturing capacity and level of quality control.
A food additive is any food-grade component that is added to food during preparation, processing or packaging in order to improve its quality. Food additives may be natural compounds derived from plants or animals or they may be derived from inorganic compounds found in nature, or even synthesized in laboratories.
Food Additive Control
The Health Products and Food Branch of Health Canada is responsible for controlling food additives. You can't sell a food containing a food additive other than those listed in the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations, Part B, Division 16. These regulations also outline the levels allowable in specific foods. The safety of all food additives is reviewed before they are accepted. The additives must also demonstrate their usefulness. Some additives, such as citric acid, have multiple prescribed purposes and can be used in a wide variety of foods. However, other additives, such as TBHQ, are very restricted in their use. In all cases, you should have the food additive reviewed to ensure that it is permitted in the food, is permitted for the prescribed function in that food and is present at a level within anyThese are used to lengthen the storage life of food products by slowing the growth of micro-organisms. By doing this, they reduce spoilage and lower the chance of food poisoning. Like all other food additives, the use of preservatives is regulated by the Food and Drug Act and Regulations. This specifies the foods in which certain preservatives may be used, along with their permitted usage levels. Some examples of preservatives prescribed limits.
The Food Additive Controversy
Consumers are becoming more skeptical of any foreign food substance in their food products. This is usually because they are unaware of the technological reasons for adding these substances. Many consumers are also unaware that not all compounds with "chemical" sounding names are synthetic food additives. For example, the food gum carrageenan is a naturally derived product from seaweed. Some food additives have received more public attention than others due to their questionable health concerns. Sodium nitrite and MSG are just two examples.
Why Use Food Additives
Many people feel that the use of food additives stemmed from the need to satisfy consumer demands. To some extent this is true; clumped salt, green oranges, fat pockets on bologna and grainy ice cream are all unacceptable to consumers. But what has likely had a greater impact on food additive usage is the discovery that, in many cases, functionality can be attained by innovative food ingredients at lower costs. There is often a cost advantage in using a food additive over a traditional food ingredient. You have the responsibility to ensure that an additive's functionality imparts the best possible quality at the lowest possible cost.
Some Common Food Additives
Many food additives are available for food processors.
These are used to lengthen the storage life of food products by slowing the growth of micro-organisms. By doing this, they reduce spoilage and lower the chance of food poisoning. Like all other food additives, the use of preservatives is regulated by the Food and Drug Act and Regulations. This specifies the foods in which certain preservatives may be used, along with their permitted usage levels. Some examples of preservatives and their applications include:
Antioxidants prevent oxidative rancidity in fats and oils. They act by tying up oxygen so it is unavailable for oxidative reactions. Both natural and artificial antioxidants are available to food processors. Of the following examples, the first two can be found in nature or synthetically derived, while the third can only be synthetically derived.
Thickeners and Gelling Agents
A thickener increases the viscosity of a food product, whereas a gelling agent imparts a jelly-like consistency to food. Some thickeners can also form a gel under appropriate conditions. Many types of thickeners and gelling agents are available to food processors. However, their behaviour in different applications varies greatly. Some examples of gelling agents and their applications include:
Food manufacturers often use hydrocolloids-referred to as gums-to thicken or texturize their food products. Many gums are available, including carrageenan, alginate, locust bean gum, xanthan gum and guar gum. When you're choosing a gum for a particular application, you need to consider the following:
Although it's helpful to know the properties of the gum, only by experimenting with it can you determine the proper gum and level for a certain application.
Stabilizers and Emulsifiers
An emulsion is a mixture of two immiscible liquids-that is, two liquids that can't be mixed. For example, a salad oil is an emulsion of oil and vinegar. Other examples include mayonnaise, margarine, ice cream and frankfurters. Emulsifiers help to make an even distribution of one immiscible liquid in the other. Stabilizers help to maintain an emulsion; they are generally gums. Examples of emulsifiers and their uses include:
Colours are added to foods to make them more attractive to consumers or to restore natural colour that was lost during processing. Because colour is used simply for aesthetic purposes, there is a controversy surrounding their use. Also, some colours have been banned for use in Canada because of detrimental side effects. Natural, inorganic and synthetic food colours are available to food processors. Examples of colours permitted in Canada and some of their uses include:
Flavours enhance the taste of pre-packaged food products. Natural or artificial flavours are available to food processors. (For more information, see the earlier discussion under "Food Flavours.")
Artificial sweeteners replace sugar in reduced-calorie or diabetic foods. There are generally two types of sweeteners, one being caloric and the other non-caloric. (For more information, see the earlier discussion under "Sweeteners.")
Leavening agents are used in baked goods to get more volume and an airy structure. Examples of leavening agents and their uses include:
Flour Improvers and Dough Conditioners
These compounds speed up the leavening process and improve the texture of bread. For years potassium bromate was the main dough conditioner used in bread. However, based on public health concerns, it was withdrawn as a permitted food additive in 1995. Bromate has been replaced with sodium stearoy l-2 lactylate in most commercial applications.
Anticoagulants decrease the moisture absorbency of dry powders. As a result, they can prevent clumping and improve flowability. Some examples of anticoagulants and their uses include:
These compounds are used industrially to prevent foam formation during processing. Examples and uses include:
For more information:
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