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INGREDIENTS AND FLAVOURS

Ingredients used in F&B for flavour, aroma, colour, preservation
Friday, 16 October, 2020, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Dr Prakash Kondekar
The definition of food ingredients goes as “Any substance that is added to a food to achieve a desired effect.” The term “food ingredient” includes food additives which are ingredients added to foods for specific technical and/or functional purposes during processing storage or packaging.

Taste, texture, freshness and appearance are a few of the major contributions food ingredients and food additives make toward the enjoyment of food. They are classified by the functions they serve in food processing. FSSAI came out with the regulation, in 2017, as ‘Food Safety and Standards (Approval for Non-Specified Food and Food Ingredients) Regulations, 2017.’

The pandemic has increased the awareness and demand for food ingredients available in fruits and vegetables for strengthening the immune system. It is a very challenging  phase, in human life coupled with current nutrition situation.

In line with this, “Arjuna” has seen a notable shift in companies putting their focus into developing products for immune health. Turmeric has always been known for immunomodulatory effects. Roots of the ashwagandha plant have been clinically proven to provide restful sleep and useful in stress support as well as immunomodulation. Higher demand has been a recognition of the complexity of human immune support requirements. Will glance through some of the ingredients:

1) Acid Regulators or pH control agents, are food additives used to change or maintain pH. They can be sorbic acid, acetic acid, benzoic acid and propionic acid and their sodium salts:  Acidity regulators are indicated by their E number, International Numbering System (INS). During acidity, garlic, ginger, coffee, tomato needs to be avoided.

2) Anti-caking Agents give a coating to the particles to shield them or absorbing moisture before the powder does.These agents are added in very small amounts to powders and other food products like table salt, spices, milk powder and flour. The most common anti-caking agent is salt. When salt is  poured out, flows freely, thanks to sodium aluminosilicate. Cellulose, a common addition to parmesan cheese, works similarly by keeping the cheese from turning back into a block. Stearic acid, a common fatty acid found in cow’s milk fat, can be used to make edible coatings that prevent interaction with water and other food components and help extend shelf life. Natural anticaking agents include magnesium silicate and corn starch, good for shredded cheese.

3) Natural Food Colours are being used for hundreds of years as a colouring matter in many foods. Some of the most common ones are carotenoids, chlorophyll, anthocyanin and turmeric. Carotenoids have a deep red, yellow or orange colour. They may cause allergic reactions in some people and hyperactivity in sensitive children. Food colours, approved by the government are safe to consume in  admissible limits. Boiled cranberries, Red beet juice. Red beet powder. Pomegranate juice can be some of the pure natural colours.

4) Food Cultures- Food is the great unifier that connects  across cultures and generations. Food can literally take one to another country and culture without even leaving the place, hence food culture is such an important way that , the people, are able to connect with each other. Food culture refers to the practices, attitudes. Different food cultures around the world are influenced by many factors, on the basis of use of specific ingredients and spices.

5) Flavours and Flavour Enhancers-  A substance added to food to impart specific taste. Flavour or taste is the perceptual impression of food or other substances, determined primarily by the chemical senses of the gustatory and olfactory system. Natural flavours as those that derive their aroma or flavour chemicals from plant or animal sources, including fruit, meat, fish, spices, herbs, roots, leaves buds or bark that are distilled & fermented. Since 2019,  Firmenich, a Swiss flavour group is in advanced testing on several new AI-generated flavours. The world’s first AI flavour was created in collaboration with Microsoft and leveraged  entirety of Firmenich’s broad raw material database. The resulting grilled beef flavour capitalises on the company’s unique palette of ingredients and “SmartProteins” expertise in plant-based protein alternatives. Its Smart Protein portfolio of flavour ingredients has been designed to address customer needs in alternative proteins.

6) Food Preservatives, are added to food to fight spoilage caused by bacteria, moulds, fungus, and yeast. Preservatives can keep food fresher for longer periods of time, extending its shelf life. Food preservatives are used to slow or prevent changes in colour, flavour or texture and delay rancidity.

7) Food Emulsifiers, are natural or chemical substances that consist of a “water-loving” end and an “oil-loving” end. They are commonly used to combine ingredients that normally do not mix together, such as oil and water.

8) Foaming agents, are surfactants which when present in small amounts, facilitate the formation of a foam, or enhance its stability by inhibiting the coalescence of bubbles.Natural food & beverage foaming agent are food additives which are used to maintain the uniform dispersion of gases in aerated foods.

9) Sweetoners, are mainly sugars that include fructose (fruit sugar), sucrose (table sugar), dextrose, levulose, lactose (milk sugar), invert sugar, molasses, brown sugar, honey and maltose.

As a rule, acidity regulators, emulsifiers, gums, thickening agents and natural colours are mostly harmless. More additives are….
* Beet red, Betanin or Betanine, is a purple–red food colour extracted from everyday beetroot (Beta vulgaris).
* Citric acid
Citric acid gives food a sharp or sour taste which produces a pleasing tart flavour, balances out any sweetness and helps maintain a constant acid level in food.It is used to prevent oxidation such as browning or deterioration.It occurs naturally as  acid of lemons and other citrus fruits.
* Lecithin, a natural substance found in soy and egg yolks, is used as an emulsifier. It works to keep all ingredients blended and avoid any ‘weeping.’ in Margarine, soups and sauces; chocolate and packet cake mixes.
* Pectin is a naturally occurring carbohydrate found in fruits and vegetables, responsible for cell structure. Pectin is available commercially in powdered and liquid forms. jams and marmalades set, jelly confectionery, fruit drinks.
* Magnesium sulphate (Epsom salt)  is used as a mineral salt and firming agent by  food industry. Magnesium is widely distributed in foods but rich sources are milk, whole grains, parsley, spinach and other green vegetables, meats, nuts and bananas.
* Bromelain is protease enzyme found naturally in fresh pineapple. It is well known as an ingredient in a meat marinade, as it can tenderise and soften tough meat before a barbecue. Similar enzymes are found in fresh figs (ficin) and paw-paw or papaya (papain).
* Other additives are Tartaric acid, Ascorbic acid and sodium ascorbate, Xanthan gum
*Beta-carotene natural orange colour.

(The author is hon director, Indian Institute of Naturopathy, Mumbai. He can be contacted at kondekar.prakash@gmail.com)
 
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