Eggs may fluctuate in price, but they also provide benefits in products targeting consumer trends. For example, creating gluten-free bread without eggs is a challenge, especially since egg whites provide structure, said Sarah Wood, Ph.D., research and development manager at Penford Food Ingredients, Centennial, Colo.
“That is definitely by far the most challenging egg replacement system,” she said.
For one bread baker, Penford was able to reduce egg use by 75% in gluten-free bread but fell short of 100%.
“It was strictly cost reduction,” Dr. Wood said.
Penford also has received more customer requests for clean/simple label recently, she said. Eggs may qualify as clean/simple label, but in egg replacement systems, some ingredients, including modified food starch, may not.
“Most of our ingredients are non-G.M.O., so that part is a little bit easier,” Dr. Wood said.
Gums, starches, fiber and combinations of all three have been shown to work in egg replacement or egg reduction systems, she said. When seeking alternative ingredients for eggs, formulators should determine what functionality they are trying to replace. Possible functions are structure and volume, moisture, emulsification, whipping and aeration, and adhesion and shine. If formulators seek to replace eggs because of allergen concerns, they should remember soy and dairy are allergens, Dr. Wood said.
With or without eggs, formulation requests for gluten-free items may keep increasing in number. The U.S. gluten-free market reached $8.8 billion in 2014 and may grow an additional 62% to reach $14.2 billion by 2017, according to Mintel research provided at a March 2 presentation by Janae Kuc, research and development manager for Gum Technology Corp., based in Tucson, Ariz., and a business unit of Penford.
A variety of gums may provide assistance in gluten-free systems. For example, xanthan gum and guar gum may combine to provide dough viscosity and resilience and to aid in the leavening and baking process, Ms. Kuc said. She gave another example of a gluten-free brownie with tapioca starch, xanthan gum, citrus fiber and tara gum.
Gluten-free formulating is not “one size fits all,” Ms. Kuc said. Formulators, when choosing gluten-free systems, should take into account bioengineered/genetically modified concerns, cost and the number of ingredients on the label, she said.
Companies have the option on whether or not their products contain gluten. They soon may not when it comes to partially hydrogenated oils (phos). The Food and Drug Administration in November 2013 proposed to take away the Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) status of phos since they cause industrial trans fat.
During his March 2 presentation Roger Daniels, vice-president of research and development and innovation for Stratas Foods, L.L.C., Memphis, focused on palm oil and enzymatically interesterified soybean oil as alternatives to phos in formulations requiring solid fat. Concern over consumer perceptions of both oils may crop up.
Palm oil contains about 50% saturated fat, but a “recalibration of opinion” is under way on the health aspects of saturated fat, Mr. Daniels said. More research that puts saturated fat in a less negative light should be forthcoming, and public health guidance in turn may be adjusted, he said.
Oil palm plantations have been linked with deforestation. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, a global, multi-stakeholder initiative, is working on improving palm oil’s sustainability image, Mr. Daniels said.
Putting enzymatically interesterified soybean oil on ingredient labels might trouble consumers seeking less chemical-sounding ingredients. Industry may have a challenge in deciding how to label the oil differently, Mr. Daniels said.