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by Donna Berry
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Maintaining beverage clarity is a challenge. Have you ever won-dered why warm water from the kitchen tap during the winter months appears cloudy but clears over time? Completely harmless, the cloudiness is nothing more than dissolved excess oxygen coming out of solution and is the result of air solubility in water increasing when water pressure increases or water temperature decreases.

So during the winter, when tap water travels from a cold reservoir to your kitchen sink, it tends to be in a supersaturated state, where there is more oxygen in the water than it can hold. It remains highly oxygenated while traveling through pressurized pipes. Upon pouring out of the faucet, the air loses solubility and the water appears cloudy. Within a few minutes, the cloudiness, in the form of microscopic bubbles, rises to the surface and before long the water is clear.

If variables such as temperature and pressure may impact the versatile solvent’s clarity, imagine how it responds to the addition of coloring, flavoring and the variety of functional ingredients being used in the manufacture of trendy clear-type beverages. The good news is ingredient suppliers recognize the growing consumer preference for clear — color or colorless — beverages, and offer a plethora of ingredients to meet formulation requirements.

Clear implies clean, pure, simple … attributes today’s consumers are looking for in their foods and beverages.

“Clear liquids, such as broth, tea and water, are often suggested when one is sick, so these products may have a better-for-you halo surrounding them,” said Jessica Jones-Dille, associate director of marketing for Wild Flavors Inc., Erlanger, Ky. “This better-for-you benefit, real or perceived, seems to have transferred over to the growing number of clear beverages — color and colorless — in today’s marketplace.”

A number of fortifying ingredients have been designed to dissolve clear in water, enabling the development of nutritional water-based beverages. For example, Oceans Omega L.L.C., a wholly owned subsidiary of Mycell Technologies L.L.C., Paramus, N.J., recently introduced Omega Infusion, a clear, zero-calorie, omega-3 fatty acid-enhanced water. One 12-fluid-oz bottle of Omega Infusion water delivers 40 mg of both docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), 200% of the daily value of vitamin C and 80% of the daily value of vitamins B3, B5, B6 and B12. Flavors are berry, citrus, fruit punch and orange.

“We are proud to be able to launch Omega Infusion featuring our omega-3 ingredients, which delivers clear, great-tasting beverages with extended shelf life at room temperatures,” said Benjamin Mamola, chairman and chief executive officer of Oceans Omega.

Volker Berl, chief technology officer, added, “Delivering heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids in enhanced water is something we’ve been developing for years. Our proprietary delivery system is transforming the beverage industry by including ingredients like DHA and EPA. Our unique stabilization technology and sustainable source of ultra-pure omega-3 fatty acids allows us to offer a water-soluble, clear and stable ingredient. It is odorless and tasteless in finished products.”

In an effort to appeal to nutritionally deficient mature adults who find traditional creamy-style nutritional shakes unpalatable, Abbott Park, Ill.-based Abbott now offers Ensure Clear, a fruit-flavored nutrition beverage available in peach and blueberry pomegranate flavors. Ensure Clear offers three times more protein than juice, along with 21 vitamins and minerals to assist adults looking to fill dietary gaps. A first-of-its-kind in the nutritional supplement beverage category, the clear, fruit-flavored beverage was designed to attract new users to the category.

Based on water rather than dairy or a dairy alternative, the beverage’s clarity suggests it is fat free. It is also free of gluten and lactose, as well as a suitable choice for consumers on clear-liquid diets.

“Nutrition is critical at every life stage and especially for older adults to support healthy muscles, organs and immune function to help defend against age-related conditions and illnesses,” said Christine Steele, director of science, innovation and education at Abbott. “Yet, many adults don’t eat an adequate diet and consume all the essential nutrients and protein. Our nutrition scientists developed Ensure Clear to provide a shake alternative and a balance of important nutrients and protein to help adults reach the recommended daily intake levels.”

Fortification through innovation

One approach to invisibly adding protein to clear beverages is to use pre-acidified whey proteins.

“Pre-acidification presents two main benefits for manufacturers,” said Patrick Michael, business development manager of beverages for Glanbia Nutritionals, Fitchburg, Wis. “First, unpleasant astringent notes and acid burn, which are common off-notes in high-protein, low-pH fruity beverages, are reduced. This allows for a better flavor profile, thus reducing the need for acid maskers, flavors additives and extra sweeteners.

“Second, using the wrong whey protein ingredients in a beverage can lead to insoluble and aggregated protein, which results in turbidity or a white precipitate. Pre-acidified whey proteins are highly soluble at high acid levels (pH 3.0), and thus they maintain clarity in solution.”

Using a patent-pending process, Grande Custom Ingredients Group, Lomira, Wis., produces whey protein isolate ingredients that provide clarity and a clean, bland flavor to all types of beverages, including high-acid.

“Available in pre-acidified and ‘instantized’ forms, the process removes all of the fat and lactose from the ingredient, while concentrating the amino acids,” said Aunna Mesing, food technologist. “It is a high-quality, complete protein, meaning that it contains all of the essential amino acids in the right proportion.”

A number of fiber ingredients have been designed for invisible addition to food and beverage applications. One such example is digestion-resistant maltodextrin.

“This ingredient contains 90% soluble dietary fiber, and forms a clear, colorless solution in water, with no added taste, flavor or odor,” said Zachary Gooding, product development scientist for Archer Daniels Midland Co., Decatur, Ill. “It can be added invisibly to virtually any beverage application, up to and exceeding the levels to make an ‘excellent source of fiber’ (5 grams of fiber per serving) claim, provided all other conditions are met for such a claim. There’s also a specially designed version for applications where rapid dispersion and dissolution are needed.”

Both are declared on ingredient statements as soluble corn fiber or digestion resistant maltodextrin and contain 1.6 calories per gram.

“We also offer two varieties that include sweetening components,” Mr. Gooding said. “The corn syrup-based variety contains 75% dietary fiber on a dry basis and is ideal for applications where the ease of handling a liquid product, as well as the added sweetness and humectancy from its higher dextrose content are beneficial. This product is labeled as soluble corn fiber or corn syrup. It contains 2.05 calories per gram on a dry basis.

“Another version includes the natural sweetness of honey and purified steviol glycosides. This ingredient is 78% dietary fiber and is usually declared on ingredient statements by listing its components: soluble corn fiber, honey and purified steviol glycosides. It contains 1.95 calories per gram.”

DSM Nutritional Products, Parsippany, N.J., has developed an antioxidant pre-mix for addition to clear beverages designed for healthy aging. DSM Nutritional Products, Parsippany, NJ, has developed an antioxidant pre-mix for addition to clear beverages designed for healthy aging.

“Our proprietary blend of functional ingredients delivers 5 mgs of resveratrol and 30 mgs of epigallocatechin gallate, also simply known as EGCG, along with 10% of the Daily Value for vitamin E in an 8-fluid-oz serving,” said Dinesh Venkateswaran, senior technical marketing manager. “These are all potent antioxidants that help defy the aging process.”

“We have developed a highly soluble calcium phosphate ingredient that can be used in all acidic beverage applications, as it does not impact pH,” said Amr Shaheed, technical service representative with Innophos, Inc. “Because it has excellent clarity and solubility, it is particularly effective for the fortification of clear beverages, including flavored waters and ready-to-drink tea. It does not impact the beverage’s color and has a clean after-taste with no gritty or chalky mouthfeel.

“This dual nutrient source is labeled simply calcium phosphate. When included at a rate of about 0.5% in beverage formulation, the finished product provides 20% of the daily value for calcium and 30% for phosphorus.”

Colors and flavors

Water loaded with nutrients may get boring, which is why formulators add flavor, often with a sweetener — traditional or high-intensity — and sometimes a bit of color.

“If a beverage’s brand wants to have a natural perception, it only makes sense to use natural flavors and natural colors,” Ms. Jones-Dille said. “There are many clear, colorless carbonated soft drinks made with a range of natural fruit flavors. Citrus flavors can be a bit challenging, but certainly can be made clear through the use of proprietary technologies.

“And historically, many naturally derived colors were cloudy due to the fact that they were oil soluble. Our proprietary clear emulsion technology enables us to provide beta carotene, apocarotenal, paprika and turmeric in clear forms for use in enhanced waters, carbonated soft drinks and more. Use levels range from 0.001% to 0.5%, depending on the ingredient and the desired hue.”

Oil-based ingredients require weighting agents and emulsifiers to stabilize them in a beverage emulsion. The drawback, as mentioned, is that these ingredients may cloud the beverage.

“We have developed a high-efficiency emulsifier that is a naturally derived extract from the quillaja tree endemic to the country of Chile,” said Ricardo Rodriguez, technical service senior chemist with Ingredion Inc., Westchester, Ill. “It functions differently than standard emulsifiers used in the beverage industry in that it forms micelles to stabilize emulsions. This is accomplished by the active component in quillaja, the surfactant saponin. Because the saponin rapidly forms micelles around oil droplets once they are mixed together, the quillaja extract has the ability to emulsify higher oil loads without increasing the overall viscosity of the emulsion or contributing cloudiness.

“It comes in a liquid form for easy dispersion, and delivers tough-to-formulate actives, such as omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid, vitamins and challenging colors, such as beta carotene. This emulsifier delivers exceptional clarity, even in alcoholic beverages.”

Clearly, innovative ingredients and technologies are enabling beverage formulators to take the cloud out of water-based drinks, providing consumers beverage options that complement their desire for pure and clean, along with added nutrition.

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