Innovate with starches to save

by Jeff Gelski
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The new U.S. Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 advocate greater whole grain content and less fat in foods. Great, food and beverage companies might say, but

how do foods with such improved nutritional qualities stay affordable and offer the same texture and taste? Starches are an option.

Combining starches and hydrocolloids is one potentially cost-effective way to keep product quality in a whole grain or reduced-fat product, said Sakharam Patil, president of S.K. Patil & Associates, Munster, Ind., which offers starch industry reports. Superheated starch may be more economical than modified starch in reduced-fat products, he added.

“Companies have to look at so-called approaches that have not been commercialized,” Dr. Patil said.

The Dietary Guidelines recommend three servings of whole grains per day. Experimenting with starch blends and hydrocolloids might improve the texture of whole grain products, Dr. Patil said. He added further research in combining CMC (carboxymethyl) starch and hydrocolloids may prove worthwhile.

“The viscoelastic properties of starches and hydrocolloid gels can be further exploited,” he said.

The guidelines also recommend keeping saturated fat under 10% of calories consumed. Superheated starch may be a more economical way than modified starch to keep in the quality of reduced-fat products, Dr. Patil said. Superheating modifies the physical, granular structure of starch and creates a creamy texture. Starch derivatives also may be used to take fat out of sauces and gravies, he said.

A study appearing in the March 2009 issue of Food Hydrocolloids involved superheated starch. Researchers from TNO Quality of Life in The Netherlands found when aqueous potato starch suspensions were heated into a solution state and cooled, spreadable particle gels were obtained with a cream-like texture.

“This so-called superheated starch (SHS) exhibits more effective gelling properties than maltodextrin, which is currently applied as a fat mimetic,” the researchers said. “In addition, a gel-like texture is immediately obtained when mixing dry SHS with cold water.”

For fat reduction, National Starch Food Innovation, Bridgewater, N.J., offers the Precisa Cling and Cream families of texturizing solutions.

“For manufacturers, fat reduction provides both cost savings and a more appealing product label,” said Robert Allin, marketing director North America for National Starch. “Our specialty solutions mimic the organoleptic qualities of fat, delivering a creamy, luxurious texture and smooth, glossy appearance. Our technical experts are also skilled at replacing costly tomato solids, oil, cream, milk solids, vegetables or egg.”

Precisa products may replace up to 40% of tomato/vegetable solids in soups and sauces, up to 30% of oil or fat in dressings and sauces and up to 30% of fat solids (cream) in cream-based soups and sauces without sacrificing consumer appeal, Mr. Allin said.

“Depending on ingredient prices, this level of reduction can generate significant manufacturing cost reductions,” he said.

Resistant starch, so called because it resists digestion, is a way to add fiber to a product, another benefit in line with the new dietary guidelines. Cargill Texturizing Solutions offers ActiStar RT, which is derived from tapioca starch and is 85% dietary fiber. It is applicable for use in cereal, bread, baked foods, snack bars, cookies and muffins.

“As consumers embrace convenient, portable foods, the American Dietetic Association has noticed that they are eating only half the fiber they need every day,” said Wen Shieh, technical manager in beverages for Cargill Texturizing Solutions. “ActiStar RT provides this needed fiber, as well as offering unique functional properties such as product expansion, crispness and shelf life improvement. Food designers can appeal to health-aware consumers by replacing flour, cereal grains and certain starches with ActiStar resistant starch, which boosts levels of dietary fiber.”

MGP Ingredients, Atchison, Kas., offers Fibersym RW, a resistant wheat starch that delivers a minimum 85% total dietary fiber. Fibersym RW has a low water-holding capacity that allows for enhanced crispness and ease in formulating, according to MGP Ingredients. National Starch offers Hi-Maize resistant starch, which offers dietary fiber sourced from corn. London-based Tate & Lyle P.L.C. offers Promitor resistant starch, an insoluble natural dietary fiber.”

While companies seek to add fiber or reduce fat in products, starches stand as potential ingredient options.

“I think the opportunities for starches are phenomenal, not only for corn starches, but tapioca, rice and potato starches,” Dr. Patil said.

Starches play role in gluten-free creations

Starches are found in many gluten-free ingredient systems, and those systems should continue to be of interest to the food and beverage industry if one considers the new Packaged Facts’ report “Gluten-free foods and beverages in the U.S., 3rd edition” (see story on Page 22). The report estimates the U.S. gluten-free food and beverage market reached $2.6 billion in retail sales during 2010 and may approach $6 billion in sales by 2015. “The gluten-free market appears to be rapidly growing beyond the interest from celiac sufferers,” said Celeste Sullivan, technical manager, food applications for Grain Processing Corp., Muscatine, Iowa. “Now it is not only necessary to formulate healthy, good tasting products for those who require the diet choice but also for the average consumer who has made a lifestyle choice. “This market brings more challenges when formulating bakery items. We found that a combination of ingredients, each known to have unique properties, could often function as a flour replacement.” Grain Processing Corp. combines modified and unmodified starches in its gluten-free systems. For example, the company has shown gluten-free cinnamon rolls may be created by using Pure-Dent B700 corn starch and Inscosity B656 food starch-modified. Also, a gluten-free cookie flour replacement uses Pure-Dent B700 corn starch, Inscosity B656 food starch-modified and Instant Pure-Cote B792 food starch-modified. National Starch Food Innovation, Bridgewater, N.J., offers Homecraft Create GF for gluten-free cookies, muffins, pancakes, waffles and other baked foods. “These proprietary blends of rice and tapioca flours, often used with Novation functional native starches, allow producers to recreate the taste, texture, visual appeal and shelf life of gluten-containing standards,” said Robert Allin, marketing director North America for National Starch “Homecraft GF solutions are easy-to-use, drop-in replacements that contribute to consumer appeal. They eliminate common undesirable traits of typical gluten-free foods, such as grittiness and crumbliness.” Corn Products International, Westchester, Ill., offers Expandex, a modified tapioca starch, for use in gluten-free products. Last year Penford Food Ingredients Co., Centennial, Colo., launched PenTechGF, an ingredients system for gluten-free coatings and baking that includes corn starch.

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