More time on the shelf

by Jeff Gelski
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Consumers are known to buy with their eyes. For example, meat with an off color may keep them from even picking up a package, and bread that does not look fresh may not get sold. Lately, consumers increasingly are using their eyes to check ingredient lists, too, in a search for products they perceive as more natural. Natural preservatives thus may play a role in both observational cases. Several ingredient suppliers offer rosemary extracts as natural preservatives while other preservatives are sourced from pomegranates, sugar and oats.

Products labeled as “natural” grew 4% in annual sales to $22.8 billion in 2009 when compared with 2008, according to The Nielsen Co., New York. Sales covered U.S. grocery/drug/mass merchandisers, excluding Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Bentonville, Ark.

Innova Market Insights tracked 987 new products in 2009 that used the words “simple,” “simplest” or “simplicity,” which was more than double the 467 new products in 2008. New products using the words “pure,” “purity” or “purely” grew to 5,705 in 2009 from 3,013 in 2008.

Rosemary’s role as a preservative goes back a few years, but the use of rosemary extracts is extending into different food categories.

“Use of rosemary as a culinary herb, spice, dates back to old Mediterranean cultures, which knew about its flavoring and preserving properties for various meats and oils,” said Dushka Dimitrijevic, technical sales director for Vitiva, Markovci, Slovenia. “In addition to that, it was known as a wonderful tonic for skin with calming and anti-aging properties.”

According to Naturex, which is based in Avignon, France, and has an office in South Hackensack, N.J., “Rosemary has a long tradition as a spice in foods. The flavoring industry has been using rosemary essential oils and oleoresins for a long time as flavoring materials. However, rosemary spice does not only contain flavoring substances, but also phenolic compounds such as carnosic acid and rosmarinic acid, which are respectively oil-soluble and water-soluble and demonstrate antioxidant properties comparable to those of synthetic antioxidants.

“In the early ‘90s, the food industry started to use rosemary extracts specifically marketed for their antioxidant properties. Since then there has been a growing swell of rosemary extracts in both Europe and the U.S., as products that avoid the use of synthetics can make all-natural claims that appeal to consumer preferences.”

Carnosic acid, carnosol and rosmarinic acid are the most active compounds of rosemary extract, according to Vitiva. Carnosic acid and carnosol may account for more than 90% of the antioxidant properties in rosemary extract.

Vitiva offers several lines of rosemary extract products. The VivOx line is mostly suitable for savory applications while the AquaRox line is mostly suitable for beverage and nutritional supplements. The Inolens line is mostly suitable for sensitive applications like fats, oils, dairy foods, chocolate, bakery and confectionery. The SyneRox line is mostly suitable for beverages, fats, oils, omega oils and dairy foods.

Vitiva in July launched SyneRox 4, a natural oxidation-management solution designed to extend the shelf life of whole milk powder and other concentrated milk products, including condensed milk, ice cream preparations, coffee creamers and whole milk-based confectionery fillings. SyneRox 4 is added to liquid milk at the beginning of milk powder production to protect the milk processing. It also remains in processed milk concentration to guarantee a complete anti-rancidity protection.

Other ingredient suppliers combine rosemary extracts with other ingredients for natural shelf life solutions.

Kemin, Des Moines, Iowa, offers Fortium, which keeps foods fresh by using a proprietary rosemary extract. It is especially efficacious in food products with high oil content. The company’s Fortium RGT rosemary plus green tea specifically curbs liquid oxidation to delay the onset of rancidity and changes to color, flavor and odor profile.

Naturex this year launched XtraBlend RP, a combination of rosemary and pomegranate extracts, under its NAT stabil line.

“The antioxidant mechanism of action of these powerful botanical extracts are different and complementary,” Naturex said. “The pomegranate extract definitely complements the antioxidant effect of the rosemary extract. Both carnosic from rosemary and ellagic acid from pomegranate are used as qualitative tracers in XtraBlend RP in order to ensure its efficacy.”

The powder version of XtraBlend XP may be incorporated into meat seasonings and ground meat products. The liquid version, which was developed specifically for use in brines, is the most convenient for use in injected meat products.

The NAT stabil range of ingredients offers refined rosemary extracts standardized to active compounds, either carnosic or rosmarinic acid, which ensure a consistent antioxidant protection in the end application, according to Naturex.

Naturex also has developed a range of fruit- and vegetable-based ingredients for food preservation. For example, Swiss Chard 3 is a minimally processed powdered Swiss chard juice that demonstrates natural curing properties, and Acerola Fruit 17 is a minimally processed acerola cherry juice powder that exhibits natural antioxidants and cure enhancing properties, which may be used in combination with Swiss Chard 3.

Oats and sugar are other sources used in natural preservatives while another new ingredient draws its natural source from olives.

Wixon, Inc., St. Francis, Wis., recently expanded its Wix-Fresh line to include Wix-Fresh OatMax, a flavor modifier that extends the shelf life of meat and poultry products while promoting moisture and flavor retention. A proprietary blend of oat-derived ingredient technology, it increases mouthfeel while simultaneously increasing moisture retention up to 15 times of the OatMax inclusion rate of up to 1.5%.

“Wix-Fresh OatMax is a cost-effective, value-added antioxidant flavor potentiator,” said Ron Ratz, director of protein development for Wixon. “A terrific alternative to other meat extenders such as soy or starch, this flavor modifier intensifies inherent savory notes without adding any visual distractions or off flavors that could negatively impact product taste.”

PuraQ Verdad products are based on cane sugar fermentations, according to Purac, which has a U.S. office in Lincolnshire, Ill. The products may be labeled as “cultured sugar.”

“PuraQ Verdad NV 10, 15 and 55 are designed to provide food safety protection (including listeria, E. coli and Salmonella) and shelf life extension in meat and poultry products,” said Robin Peterson, business development manager for Purac. “These cultured sugars contain a variety of organic acids that function to inhibit the growth of microorganisms. Verdad also provides enhanced flavor attributes as well as an additional level of safety to low sodium products by reducing water activity.

“PuraQ Verdad RV 70 and RV 75 provide yeasts, molds and bacterial inhibition in a wide range of food products such as sauces, dressings and deli salads.”

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