Beverage potential grows for gums

by Jeff Gelski
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Creating innovations in beverages and adding fiber to foods in general have drawn the interest of food processors this year. One ingredient, gum, provides advantages in both areas.

Two presentations will explore gum developments in beverages at the Institute of Food Technologists meeting and Expo July 16-20 in New Orleans.

The new Kelcogel HM-B Gellan Gum from CP Kelco, Chicago, is tailored for dairy-based beverages. A fermentation-derived polysaccharide, gellan gum traditionally has functioned as a gelling agent in foods.

The presentation in New Orleans will explain how a new technique has made it possible to form a "fluid gel" solution by using low concentrations of native gellan molecules, resulting in the formation of a weak gel network.

The HM-B Gellan Gum may work in a variety of beverage options such as meal replacement, coffee, tea, soy drinks and dairy drinks.

Another presentation will explain how Kansas State University researchers have done a rheological study on xanthan and locust bean gum interaction in a dilute solution.

The results, according to the researchers, show how product developers may use both xanthan and locust bean gum in designing or improving new or existing beverages.

Prices for locust bean have increased dramatically in 2004 and 2005 because of limited availability of seeds, according to TIC Gums, Belcamp, Md. The company recently promoted its TIC Pretested Caragum 200 as a locust bean gum replacement.

The Caragum 200 is a blend of locust bean gum and TIC Gums’ GuarNT Bland. The blend does not impart the off-flavor associated with traditional guar gum, said Greg Andon, business manager for TIC Gums.

Food processors wanting to add fiber and keep flavor in their products may use gum, too.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said this about fiber in Chapter 7 of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005: "Diets rich in dietary fiber have been shown to have a number of beneficial effects, including decreased risk of coronary heart disease and improvement in laxation. There also is interest in the potential relationship between diets containing fiber rich foods and lower risk of type 2 diabetes."

Fibre Gum, an acacia gum from Colloides Naturels, Inc., Bridgewater, N.J., is 90% soluble dietary fiber. It’s also tasteless, odorless and colorless.

For another benefit, a study performed at the University of Sydney in 2004 showed using acacia gum as an ingredient may convert a high-glycemic food product into a medium-glycemic food product.

Supplies of acacia gum from Africa appear to be on the upswing. Three African countries produced and exported acacia gum in 1975, according to Colloides Naturels. Since then the number of countries producing and exporting has grown to 14.

Acacia gum is also known as gum arabic. A gum arabic meeting took place in June in Khartoum, Sudan. Representatives from Sudan, Chad, Nigeria, the Association for the International Promotions of Gums, and the Network for Natural Gums and Resins in Africa attended.

Paul Flowerman, president of P.L. Thomas, Morristown, N.J., participated.

"Gum exporters, some of whom endured three days of transit because of visa and travel connections, came to Khartoum from all over Africa," Mr. Flowerman said. "They made clear their determination to take specific measures to make sure their global clientele will not be deprived of ample quantities of gums at fair prices with good information.

"This meeting will be remembered as historic if the participants make good on their promises to do the necessary and doable to put gum arabic business and public relations on a stronger footing."

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