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Putting the FUN in Functional

Functional Bar Functional Bar

People love to eat tasty foods and they demand healthy convenience foods. Here are some ingredients that deliver both experiences.

­­As any trade media editor will attest, their inboxes serve as caches of exciting new launch releases. Over time, these releases show distinctive trends. For example, healthy foods used to tout what they were without (eg, saturated fats, cholesterol, GMOs [genetically modified organisms]), then what specific needs they serve (vegan, vegetarian, gluten sensitive). Now, more releases are emanating from boutique manufacturers that are showing a more aggressive health value-added proposition.

For instance, California-based Flamous Brands offers new snack chips that are not only suitable for vegans and for those with gluten issues, they feature herbs, vitamins, protein, fiber and 10 times more antioxidants than green tea or vegetable juice, according to the company. Even large mass-market brands, such as McCormick spices began to heavily advertise the antioxidant capacity in many of its culinary herbs.

No matter the size of your food line, there are several factors that are important to your R&D team to consider when formulating with new ingredients.

Hartley Pond, vice president of technical sales for Illinois-based Futureceuticals, observed that R&D teams are looking for whole foods nutrition that translates into label appeal. “Our ability to rely on our extensive historical manufacturing data provides more than enough basis for formulators to claim ‘provides three servings of vegetables’ or ‘provides four servings of fruits and vegetables’ on their labels,” Pond said. “This is what consumers are looking for, and having this data supports these claims.”

Futureceuticals provides whole food, organic ingredients for a variety of foods and natural gum replacements for RTM beverages, such as its patented TRIM line of beverage-ready grains, which Pond said helps reduce the ingredient panel substantially, and substitute natural, clean-label often gluten-free options.

In the functional food and beverage product marketplace, compliance is very important, pointed out Chase Hagerman, brand director of Texas-based Chemi Nutra. “It is more important now than ever to make sure your health product is in compliance with the rules and regulations of the functional foods industry,” he advised. Compliance, he noted, influences research and development at the very basic level; “that ingredients are approved for use in the health industry; as illustrated very recently with the FDA’s (U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s) announcement that the ingredient picamilon ‘does not meet the statutory definition of a dietary supplement.'”

Jennifer Gu, PhD, vice president of R&D, AIDP, Inc., California, agrees that regulatory compliance is one of several important characteristics that functional-food ingredients must have. Other factors, she said, include GRAS (generally recognized as safe) certified, well-documented safety and efficacy, good stability and easy to work with during processing (such as heat and acid) and in trend with consumer needs and desires. “It should exhibit palatable texture and consistency in the finished product, whether it’s an energy bar, a beverage or other edible item,” Gu elaborated.

Pond added that Futureceuticals advises functional food formulators to create products that connect with the consumer trends of whole food serving equivalencies and maybe have another targeted health consideration as well. For instance, Futureceuticals’ patented FruiteX-B calcium fructoborate is also useful for supporting joint health, and its Organic Coffeeberry coffee caffeine will suit the folks seeking to enhance daily energy, while still providing the three servings of fruits and vegetables.

One food category that seems to be exploding is that of yogurt, as the correlation between yogurt and probiotics is top of mind for consumers Michael Bush, senior vice president of Ohio-based Ganeden, noted that with probiotic-fortified functional foods, “the biggest consideration, beyond the obvious of safety and efficacy, is choosing a probiotic strain resilient enough to survive the manufacturing processes involved, the shelf life of the product and consumption of the product. R&D teams can be assured that Ganeden’s probiotic food and beverage ingredient, GanedenBC30, will not change the taste or texture profile of the product and is as simple to formulate with as any other dry powder; its naturally occurring layer of organic material (spore) protects the genetic core of the bacteria,” he explained.

Trends and Innovations

There are several varied areas of opportunities where emerging trends show potential for growth, excitement and consumer buy-in.

“Innovations will be in delivery format,” predicted Hagerman. “The functional food space is dominated by beverage products; mostly because production of food products with added function is much trickier than beverages. So a company can really stand out in the market with a functional food product.

Pond, meanwhile, observed a strong shift in the food industry into increased and targeted functionality in foods, and also a shift in the supplement industry toward the same. “All indications are that bars and proteins are going to continue to be strong across all demographics, and even into the mainstream. Clean-label, non-GMO and whole foods are absolutely essential to any formulator, as well as organic. These trends are solid and will continue for the foreseeable future.

Some examples of innovations with GanedenBC30, Bush provided, include: hot tea with probiotics, functional probiotic microwavable breakfast burrito, fresh cold-pressed juices with probiotics, microwavable high protein probiotic muffins, fresh fruit probiotic fruit snacks and probiotic baking mixes.

Gu has noticed four areas she believes will be highly welcome to new functional foods. One is digestive health, which she noted will also be including prebiotics. The second is plant-based foods and proteins (eg, organic rice protein, organic pea protein and hemp protein), as many consumers are turning away from ingesting animal proteins for health purposes. “With the fast development of plant-based proteins, the improvement of their quality and taste profile, more and more food and drinks are adding plant based protein instead of animal-based protein for healthy and green images. This is attributed to health and wellness trends and concerns as well as environmental concerns,” she commented.

The third and fourth areas are somewhat related—beauty-from-within foods and beverages, and anti-aging foods and beverages, both appealing to middle aged and Baby Boomers who want to retain youthful vitality.

Mitch Skop, senior director of new product development for New Jersey-based Pharmachem Laboratories, has pointed to the fact that more and more people are prepping healthier meals at home, and using packaged functional food products that have value-added health attributes.

Ingredient Considerations

DietSpice from Pharmachem is a line of culinary herb packets each featuring Phase 2 Carb Controller. The company, according to Skop, subjected the product to third-party sensory evaluations by the Tragon Corp. Testing found that the ingredient does not affect the taste or texture of foods in which it was added, including baked goods.

“This evaluation was significant as it shows that Phase 2 is a ‘food-friendly’ material; viable in a wide range of packaged and prepared foods, and therefore, with the ability to open up a whole new “carb-conscious food sector,” Skop described. As a functional seasoning, DietSpice provides numerous flexible packaging options, from individual stickpacks—to boxes of assorted flavors—to actually incorporating it into frozen foods. Each stickpack contains 1000 mg of Phase 2, a dosage shown in studies to reduce starch absorption and aid in weight loss.”

A placebo-controlled 12-week study, published in the journal Obesity, showed that from as early as week four, subjects who took the supplement lost significantly more weight than their placebo counterparts. The same trend was observed in the body fat mass measurements: the Phase 2 group showed a significantly more marked reduction compared with the placebo group at weeks four, eight and 12. The authors concluded that the body weight reduction stemmed from loss of fat mass, not muscle mass.

A 2010 meta-analysis conducted by J. Udani et al, concluded that in totality, studies performed with Phase 2 on people who were overweight or obese indicate, that it reduces the rate of absorption of carbohydrates, thereby reducing the GI of foods. The evidence also indicated that Phase 2 promoted weight loss when taken concurrently with meals containing carbohydrates.

Futureceuticals’ Terasante Whole Food Plant Proteins offer a standardized source of 20 percent protein, and its Coffeeberry Energy natural coffee caffeine delivers natural coffee energy; Pond noted that the latter is distinguished from other sources of natural caffeine due to its unique contents of phytonutrients found in the whole coffee fruit. “For functional food product formulation, we uniquely offer bits of in-house manufactured fruit and vegetable pieces and powders that take advantage of freeze drying, the absolute best drying technology for functional food ingredients,” he emphasized.

Further, he expounded, since the shift of protein into the mainstream, Futureceuticals’ TRIM line of beverage-ready grains provide a natural texture, flavor and mouth-feel solution. He added that Futureceuticals exclusively licenses the USDA patented Trim process that transforms ordinary grains, into a material that provides smooth, creamy texture to off-tasting protein beverages. This same methodology works for bars, shots and functional foods.

AIDP also offers plant-based proteins for a wide variety of functional food products. Gu noted that its rice protein (RisaPro) and pea proteins (PeasiPro) can provide formulators with a variety of taste profiles and grades. She reported that AIDP has recently reformulated both the rice and pea proteins for a smoother texture and more pleasing mouth feel.

Chemi Nutra offers two functional food ingredients, SerinAid PhosphatidylSerine (PS) and AlphaSize Alpha-Glyceryl Phosphoryl Choline (A-GPC). SerinAid PS was granted two FDA health claims indicating that it may reduce the risk of congitive dysfunction and dementia in the elderly, according to Hagerman, as it assists proteins that manage membrane functions involved in transmission of molecular messages from cell to cell, helps nutrients enter into cells, and helps harmful stress-related waste products to exit the cells. Alpha-Glyceryl Phosphoryl Choline (A-GPC) increases the immediate formation of acetylcholine, which is the cell’s primary neurotransmitter chemical, which also provides cognitive function support as it assists in transmission of impulses from neuron, to neuron, and in all brain-based cognitive operations.

Both, said Hagerman, are well-suited for functional food products. Alpha-GPC is flavorless, completely water soluble, and both thermo and pH stable. Formulators can add a full dose to less than an ounce of water and it will disappear within a couple minutes; the consumer won’t taste it or see it. AlphaSize A-GPC has undergone full GRAS notification acceptance with FDA (GRN 000419).

SerinAid PS is also GRAS. “While it isn’t water soluble like A-GPC it can still be successfully utilized in functional foods and beverages,” Hagerman assured. “In fact, since it is a phospholipid, it can replace other emulsifiers like soy lecithin (which are often found in chocolates to hold the oils together). In fact, a number of customers use SerinAid PS in their functional chocolate products.”

The health benefits of GanedenBC30 (Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086), said Bush, have been illustrated in published, peer-reviewed papers. As such, for foods and beverages, typical claims and inclusion levels are: “supports immune health at 500 million CFUs per day,” and “supports digestive health and supports protein utilization at 1 billion CFUs per day.” He stated, “Beyond inclusion in shelf-stable beverages and products that have been processed to be ‘sterile,’ GanedenBC30 can be formulated into virtually any product that is baked, frozen, extruded or processed.”

Gu explained that AIDP offers PreticX, a GRAS-approved prebiotic that effectively activates Bifidobacterium for digestive health benefits in food and beverages that need heat and acid stability. “PreticX is a new prebiotic ingredient with clinical data linking it to improved healthy microflora and better biomarkers for diabetics and pre-diabetics,” Gru offered. “It requires a low efficacious dose and is highly stable, easy to use and slightly sweet.”

Of course, this innovative industry always has new ingredients brewing, ready for inclusion into a scrumptious variety of convenience foods that provide not only a satisfying experience, but the health benefits—targeted and overall—that consumers are demanding with increasing fervor. NIE

For More Information:
AIDP, Inc., (866) 262-6699
Chemi Nutra, (512) 823-2500
Futureceuticals, (888) 452-6853
Ganeden, (440) 229-5200
Pharmachem Laboratories Inc., (800) 526-0609