Achieving a clean label in baked foods may involve removing artificial flavors, colors and preservatives. It also may mean omitting complex multi-syllablic words from the ingredient list or avoiding the use of bioengineered/GMO ingredients.

Ingredient suppliers may assist with all those issues through a multitude of alternative ingredients and systems, some new to the market.

“AlphaFresh is a cultured wheat flour from Cain that will replace calcium propionate,” said Matt Feder, vice-president of sales and marketing for Cain Food Industries, Inc., Dallas. “To eliminate the oxidizing and relaxing ingredient mix, this can be with enzymes and process control.”

While many baked foods companies already have replaced azodicarbonamide (ADA), they now are moving to replace calcium propionate, SSL (sodium stearoyl lactylate), CSL (calcium stearoyl lactylate), DATEM (diacetyl tartaric acid esters of mono- and diglycerides), L-cysteine, sodium metabisulfites, iodates and mono- and diglycerides, Mr. Feder said.

“Consumers are demanding the elimination of these traditional ingredients systems,” he said. “There really can’t be a cost concern to keep your loyal customer base happy and buying your product.

“The benefits of clean label, even if there was an increase in cost, outweigh the negatives, but in most of the projects we have worked on we strive for cost neutral or savings with product quality the No. 1 priority.”

Dawn Food Products, Inc., Jackson, MI, in January launched Bakers Truth, a line of ingredients free from artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. They also contain no high-fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated oils. The product line features crème cake bases in vanilla and chocolate varieties, donut mixes in vanilla and spice cake as well as yeast-raised, and a brownie mix.

“The products leverage the same baking process as their original recipes, delivering the same great taste that consumers love, and the functionality bakers expect, making Bakers Truth easy to implement for customers of all types,” said Erik Enyedy, senior manager of channel marketing at Dawn Food.

Proprietary product development research from Dawn Food Products found 57 percent of consumers said they were willing to pay more for foods with no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. The company also cited Nielsen data showing consumers said they were willing to pay 20 percent to 30 percent more for clean label items.

Besides artificial preservatives, flavors and colors, other ingredients being removed from baked foods include bleached flour ingredients that have long chemical-sounding names such as diacetyl tartaric acid esters of mono- and diglycerides, ammonium sulfate, ethoxylated mono- and diglycerides, said John P. Sawicki, director of R&D and WC  for Bread Partners, Inc., Cinnaminson, NJ
“Enzymes are an ever evolving area of clean label solutions that provide alternatives to ingredients that have become unacceptable,” he said.

The company recently has promoted Extenza, a dough relaxer free of bromate and ADA, and Quesolito, a non-dairy, non-bioengineered/non-GMO flavor that has been shown to enhance asiago cheese flavor.

Corbion offers a Pristine line of branded bases, mixes and functional ingredients used in bread, rolls, tortillas and other baked foods.

“While perceptions do vary across the consumer audiences, for most, clean label and transparency mean products with the fewest ingredients that aren’t harmful or overly processed,” said Kathy Sargent, market director, bakery for Corbion. “So it’s key for bakery manufacturers to develop products that offer simpler, more transparent labels that consumers can easily understand and that still meet their expectations on taste, quality and freshness.”


Chart: What does 'clean label' mean to consumers?

In creating clean labels, baked foods companies may remove various gums and fat sources from their products that offer functional attributes such as batter viscosity, bulk, mouthfeel and texture, said Sarah Scholl, PhD, food science, bakery team lead for Tate & Lyle, PLC and based in Hoffman Estates, IL.

“Using an ingredient like Claria Top-Gel 130 gives manufacturers the best of both worlds: a label-friendly ingredient that delivers unique functional benefits,” Dr. Scholl said. “Claria Top-Gel 130 provides batter viscosity and particle suspension (for fruits or chocolate chips), maintains texture over shelf life, and it labels as ‘corn starch.’”

She said Tate & Lyle is working with a customer in the fast-food retail space to deliver a “cleaner” label on a biscuit cookie.

“Our team is using more label-friendly native and modified starches to help replace several hydrocolloids for maintaining dough handling and final texture,” Dr. Scholl said. “Because the batter has to make it through an extruder and a wire cutter for the final shape, it’s vital that it is neither too sticky nor stiff. Using those highly functional ingredients enables us to reduce the number of ingredients overall in delivering these required functional attributes while managing cost.”

Companies have ways to avoid excessive costs in clean label products.

“The objective is to be cost-neutral, and many times we can offer a cost-savings,” said Brigham Sikora, R&D director, bakery applications, Kerry Americas, Beloit, WI. “Many times when we are trying to replace DATEM, we are able to do so pairing together enzymes with a trans-fat free texture system. This system can offer 10% to 20% cost-savings. Clean label does not have to mean increased costs.”

He said other tools that may be used with clean label products include fermented ingredients, enzymes, sunflower lecithin, trans-fat free emulsifiers, Kerry’s Intensified Dairy Taste, extracts, and toppings and inclusions with colors from natural sources.

“Recently, we have worked with customers to remove artificial flavors and in some cases even natural flavors from ingredient statements,” he said. “Using our Intensified Dairy Taste and Simply Nature portfolios of product solutions, we have helped customers bring real and recognizable ingredients back to their labels instead of flavors. For example, we were able to bring real butter back to the label rather than using natural or artificial flavors.”Pizza toppings are another clean label consideration. Burke Corp., Nevada, Iowa, offers Italian sausage and ground beef that have no artificial ingredients and come from animals raised without antibiotics or growth hormones.

Rich Products Corp., Buffalo, NY, in January introduced a new line of clean label dessert products under the label “Simply.” The portfolio features chocolate cheesecake, black and white cheesecake, New York-style cheesecake, vanilla cake, and chocolate cake.

The items contain no high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors or flavors, or bleached flour. Cage-free eggs are used.

“A large majority of US consumers believe most of the ingredients on a food label should be items they easily recognize and would use at home,” said Courtney Erickson, associate marketing manager — shopper marketing in Rich Products’ in-store bakery and deli division. “People are showing us they have rising expectations about clear labeling for products as well as about what’s inside the package.”