Cleaning up the frozen food aisle

by Jeff Gelski
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Shopping for frozen food
Consumers are seeking cleaner labels on frozen foods.

KANSAS CITY — The clean label trend is affecting ingredient lists in frozen food, too. Manufacturers of frozen baked foods are seeking to take out such ingredients as sodium stearoyl lactylate (SSL), azodicarbonamide (ADA) and diacetyl tartaric acid esters of mono- and diglycerides (DATEM), said Bill Gilbert, a certified master baker for Cargill. Those multi-syllable names may sound familiar. Manufacturers of baked foods sold in the fresh/ambient section of retail outlets are seeking to avoid the same ingredients, Mr. Gilbert said.

“The solutions are working the same,” he added.

For example, lecithin may replace synthetic emulsifiers. Lecithin may be sourced from such botanical sources as soy, sunflower and canola, he said.

Frozen bread products
Frozen bread formulas have begun to mimic retail bread formulas.

“What I’ve seen over the years is that frozen bread formulas have kind of mimicked the retail bread formulas,” Mr. Gilbert said.

Technavio, a market research company based in London, predicts the market size of the global frozen food market will near $290 billion by 2019, due in part to the clean label trend.

“Product innovations for the preservation of organic and natural frozen food are predicted to increase the overall consumption of frozen food products during the forecast period,” Technavio said.

Nestle Stouffer's frozen lasagna
This year, Nestle USA reduced the number of ingredients in its Stouffer’s frozen lasagna to 15 from 19.

This year in the frozen food category, Nestle USA reduced the number of ingredients in its Stouffer’s frozen lasagna to 15 from 19 by taking out autolyzed yeast extract, carrageenan, dextrose and bleached wheat flour. The reformulation was part of the company’s “Kitchen Cupboard” commitment, which eventually will involve more than 140 products in the Stouffer’s portfolio.

Clean label also may involve the move away from modified food starch to native starch, Mr. Gilbert said.

“The hardest issue with all starches is the freeze cycle,” he said. “Starches get damaged when frozen. So there is still a need in industry for better clean label starches. That technology is ongoing right now.”

Ingredion frozen solutions
Ingredion's Novation Prima 340 and 350 native starches extend cold shelf life stability in dressings, dips and spreads.

Ingredion, Inc., Westchester, Ill., recently introduced Novation Prima 340 and 350, both native starches, for extended cold shelf life stability in refrigerated, frozen and instant foods. The starches deliver instant viscosity and process tolerance while providing stability under cold temperature storage, according to Ingredion. Potential applications include fruit preparations, glazes and pasta fillings as well as dressings, dips and spreads, cream and fruit pie fillings, marinades, prepared meals, and instant dairy desserts.

AB Mauri North America, St. Louis, in 2013 launched its Arctic frozen dough systems. Within the clean label category, Arctic CL is a frozen dough conditioner with an enzyme oxidant system designed for frozen dough produced without additives such as emulsifiers or chemical oxidizers. Launched at the same time was Arctic Pastry, a frozen dough conditioner with an advanced enzyme oxidant system designed for frozen laminated dough such as croissants or Danishes produced without additives such as emulsifiers or chemical oxidizers.

More recently, AB Mauri North America introduced Arctic Power Strong, a more robust, clean label dough strengthening system specifically designed for demanding frozen dough formulations and processes, said Paul Bright, innovation manager at AB Mauri North America. Arctic Power Strong uses enzyme technology and oxidation systems to provide extra frozen dough tolerance.

AB Mauri frozen dough solutions
AB Mauri's Arctic line of frozen dough strengthening systems acts to enhance gluten functionality.

“While the Arctic portfolio has seen incremental growth versus the prior year, we still know that industrial manufacturers and artisanal bakers alike are always looking for clean label solutions for their particular product portfolios,” Mr. Bright said. “We are seeing more specialty frozen dough products being developed such as artisanal-style items and freezer-to-oven products.”

Removing emulsifiers and chemical oxidizers from frozen dough potentially may have drawbacks. Such traditional technology delivers significant tolerance while allowing for greater process variances, Mr. Bright said.

“When chemical oxidants and emulsifiers are removed from frozen dough systems, baked products generally will have less volume or size, longer proofing times due to gas loss from weaker gluten networks and poor overall internal and external baked characteristics,” he said. “In addition, frozen dough shelf life will be reduced due to less tolerant, weaker dough systems.

Frozen pastries
Arctic Pastry is a frozen dough conditioner with an advanced enzyme oxidant system designed for frozen laminated dough produced without additives.

“Our Arctic CL, for example, adds strength and stability to frozen dough produced without additives such as azodicarbonamide (ADA), bromate, iodates or emulsifiers.”

The Arctic line of frozen dough strengthening systems acts to enhance gluten functionality, he added.

“Stronger dough systems will feature the improved ability to retain gas produced by yeast and/or other leavening systems, and as a consequence, will help produce baked goods with larger, more consistent volumes over the course of their frozen dough shelf life,” Mr. Bright said.

Frozen pizza
Frozen pizza may be reformulated to appeal more to the clean label trend.

Frozen pizza may be reformulated to appeal more to the clean label trend, too. The changes might be more likely to come in such ingredients as pepperoni, sausage and cheese than with the dough, Mr. Gilbert said.

“At the end of the day, pizza doughs in the frozen food space, as well as in the fresh (space), are still very lean formulas,” he said.
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