Achieve Longer Shelf-Life & Maintain Quality Appeal Of Food Products With Synergistic Solutions

Sunday, March 29th, 2020

Kemin’s wide shelf-life extension portfolio offers a range of holistic solutions to ensure the safety and quality of food products. By Joanne Tan, Kemin Food Technologies Asia. 

In the past, shelf-life extension solutions were limited to methods such as curing, sugaring, fermentation, drying and freezing. Although these conventional food preservation methods guaranteed safety, the application affected food structure, changed nutritional characteristics and impacted the organoleptic experience of products.

To combat these problems, antioxidant and antimicrobial solutions have been created to offer safe and quality products for consumers.

Scrutinising The Use Of Antioxidants In Food

For manufacturers who produce food that contains fats or oils, additives to delay oxidation (antioxidants) have always been an important addition to recipe formulation—this helps maintain the quality of the product and ensure sufficient shelf-life. For decades, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and tert-Butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), which are synthetically-derived from petroleum, were commonly used as antioxidants in food, cosmetics as well as industrial product applications. Although these ingredients have been evaluated by the FDA and dubbed “safe to consume” at an allowable concentration, there has been a growing number of consumers who are shying away from products that contain these ingredients due to their links to negative health effects, including but not limited to, hyperactivity in children and carcinogens. In fact, TBHQ has since been banned for use in food in Japan and some parts of the EU. BHA has also been flagged by the state of California and the U.S. National Institutes of Health as it was projected to be a human carcinogen*.

With an increasing number of clinical trials and investigative papers highlighting the negative health impact of synthetically-derived antioxidants, consumers are progressively scrutinising synthetically-derived preservatives in their purchases. A growing number of consumers are also avoiding packaged food products that contain synthetic ingredients and are consciously moving towards the “natural ingredient trend”. This shift is encouraging food manufacturing giants such as General Mills and Kellogg’s to remove synthetic antioxidants from staple products like cereals, and source for holistic and natural shelf-life extension solutions such as tocopherol and rosemary extracts*.

The removal of antioxidants, especially from products that contain fats and oils, drastically shortens its shelf-life, severely affecting the business of food manufacturers as well as the export potential of food. Hence, antioxidants are an important ingredient within the whole product formulation.

Globally, the consumer demand for natural ingredients has spurred the clean-label trend. This has driven food and beverage manufacturers to find alternatives to replace synthetically-derived antioxidants with natural options.


Understanding & Harvesting The True Potential Of Antioxidants

Although the use of synthetic preservatives has waned, its unrivalled performance and lower price point are reasons why some food manufacturers may still consider it an option. Kemin scientists have taken these challenges—performance and cost-in-use—and studied antioxidants at a molecular level to break down the different stages of food oxidation (Diagram 1) so they can create products that are just as effective as their synthetic counterparts.

As shown in the diagram above, in a typical oxidation chain reaction for products that contain fats and oils, it is apparent that there are multiple stages of oxidation. The initiation stage of oxidation is triggered by the availability of oxygen, exposure to light, temperature and the presence of metal ions, followed by the propagation stage where peroxides are formed—these also perpetuate the chain reaction.

Diagram 1: A Typical Oxidation Chain Reaction

Finally, in the termination stage, secondary oxidation by-products such as aldehydes and ketones form and contribute to off-flavours and bad odours, commonly associated with rancidity. The stages of oxidation occur concurrently in a complex series of sequential and overlapping reactions which are affected by the external and internal factors of each product. This forms an irreversible chain reaction.

At different stages of the oxidation process, different types of antioxidants are required to curb the oxidation process, thus protecting the organoleptic qualities of the product and extending its shelf-life.

By understanding the quality deterioration process of various types of food products and the mechanism of oxidation, Kemin is able to identify and develop the best solutions required for different food and beverage products. With this knowledge, Kemin is able to deliver synergistic benefits through leveraging the holistic qualities of blends of antioxidants to help food manufacturers wield the true potential of antioxidants at a cost-effective price point, while meeting the clean-label demand.

For example, in meat & poultry products, the oxidation of haemoglobin causes the darkening of colour from red to brown while lipid oxidation impacts colour and taste. In such instances, an oxygen scavenger is the key to slow down the haemoglobin oxidation process while a rosemary and green tea extract can synergistically address the lipid oxidation challenges. Rosemary extract is primarily responsible to decrease the oxidation of polar triglycerides, while green tea extract helps to delay the oxidation of phospholipids and proteins.

The same theory is applicable for frying: multiple oxidation pathways co-exist, which increase oxidation reactions and contribute to the overall deterioration of product quality. In one study conducted by a Kemin scientist to compare the performance of palm oil used for frying noodles, the palm oil was treated with a synthetic antioxidant, TBHQ, as well as 22 different antioxidant blends. Various parameters were evaluated—total polar compound (TPC), alkenals, OSI and the visual appearance of the final instant noodles.

Referring to Graph 1, amongst the 22 treatments, the top 7 best performing treatments (in terms of TPC) were selected. Comparing various natural antioxidant blends against TBHQ, Kemin’s NaturFORT TRLG—a blend of natural antioxidant—is able to best protect the quality and shelf-life of frying oil and its end product (noodles), thus delivering higher value for food manufacturers.

Armed with a deep understanding of the oxidation process for various foods that contain lipids, Kemin has launched a new antioxidant technology called Powerpacked Molecule. The Powerpacked Molecule is a blending system that Kemin has developed to help food and beverage manufacturers keep their food fresher, safer and last longer.

Kemin has been working with food and beverage manufacturers of various scales to resolve their specific shelf-life challenges. Instead of supplying a standard, commonly-used antioxidant, Kemin works with individual customers to understand their main challenges and objectives beforehand. This helps to identify the right solution for the customer.




INSPIRA by Maya Food

Shelf-Life Drives Quality

Janice Hong, Director of INSPIRA comments: “In the past, we added only tocopherol into frying oil, but at the 3rd or 4th month, I noted change in taste of our fried fish skin. That’s when I approached Kemin for help.


“Through my collaboration with Kemin, I have developed a better understanding of the proper use of antioxidants. Kemin has helped me to identify the right solutions that meet my commercial needs. The two main export markets of my products are the US and China, we need to ensure that the ingredients used meet the local regulatory requirements while ensuring the required shelf-life of our snacks and helping my product maintain its quality. We are committed to the quality delivered by INSPIRA, hence the product needs to be able to withstand the test of time during its transit and meet the market demands for natural ingredients.

“Quality assurance is my main concern. What is good for my customer, is good for my business. And quality is the most important aspect.”



Satisfying Taste With A Peace Of Mind

Launched by the Chan brothers, Aroma Truffle is one of the latest “trendy” snacks riding the wave of novelty snackification started by salted egg fish skin products. The Chan Brothers are also the team behind the brand SNACKY & CRISPS salted egg & exotic laksa flavoured fish skin that has been in the market since 2016.

Another Chan brothers’ brand, Kakejo focuses on using authentic ingredients right from the kitchen. As such, with an increase in demand in the export market, shelf-life becomes the main hurdle for their business expansion. A synthetic preservative was their initial option to extend the shelf-life of their product, but this posed a challenged to their motto: “Made From Real Ingredients”.

Kenny from Kakejo comments: “We met Kemin at an ingredient exhibition in Thailand. Kemin understood our need to deliver the best quality for our customer, while at the same time avoid using preservatives in our products. Kemin has helped us understand how the combination of natural plant extracts are able to replace synthetic preservatives and extend the shelf-life of our food product. We wanted to remain as authentic as possible while meeting the export potential of our products. Currently, we are working with Kemin’s Customer Lab Service team to conduct a shelf-life and sensory trial with the objective to extend shelf-life while not using synthetic preservative in our products.”


*References available upon request.


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