Conscious Consumers of today, often check the list of ingredients that are used in making their much loved packaged foods, however rarely do consumers consider deciphering or researching the ingredient codes mentioned in that list. It is in this where manufacturers hide their dark food secrets they do not want the consumers to know about.
Welcome to ‘clean labelling’, an ideal world where every ingredient on the list of ingredients is natural, recognisable and easy to understand and pronounce. Initiated by the consumers themselves, this movement is a step towards creating safe and superior quality food products that are free from the repercussions of using artificially derived substances. Ingredients often are written as Codes followed by a series of numbers are typical examples of derived substances and it is this obscurity that confuses the consumer creating the need for transparency in comprehending ingredients. For example, if azodicarbonamide is written instead of E927a (commonly found in shoe soles and yoga mats) on the ingredient list, then one can and does have a valid reason to be concerned of what they are consuming. The simple rule regarding consumable foods is that if an ingredient is hard to pronounce, then you probably shouldn’t be eating it. The clean label is the answer to the conscious consumers’ dilemma of finding out what each ingredient is and where has it been derived from. By being crystal clear in its definition clean label has managed to create an awareness amongst the consumers forcing companies to search for alternatives for artificially sourced and potentially harmful ingredients without compromising on the taste, flavour and texture of the product.
In the bakery industry, this has become a challenge of sorts as sometimes naturally sourced substances especially colours may not possess the same characteristics required to effectively replace their artificial counterparts in different applications. Recently a children’s cereal company had to omit the green and blue colours from their fruit cereal due to non-availability of naturally sourced substitutes. However, unexpectedly the sales of the cereal rose showing that the clean label attitude has entered the concerned mothers’ mind. Additionally, some colours like the caramel colour is difficult to replicate as the exact colour is difficult to find naturally.
When it comes to bakery preservatives, the ultimate goal is to increase the shelf life of the product as much as possible and until the advent of clean label revolution, these were mostly artificially sourced. Antimicrobials (sorbates, benzoates and propionates) are added to prevent the product from being contaminated by mold (fungus) and destroying the bacteria causing it. Antioxidants (sulphites, BHA, BHT, propyl gallate, TBHQ) help to prevent food spoilage by slowing down the reaction of food with the oxygen in the atmosphere.
While looking for natural alternatives to artificial substances like antimicrobials and antioxidants, it is important to take into consideration factors like the purchasing power of the target market, cost of the product, storage conditions and its shelf life. Food science experts are constantly researching and discovering ingredients that meet these requirements and have come up with many different natural substances where the taste and flavour of the product remains unaffected. Implementation of Clean Labelling norms are not easy to implement and requires changes is product formulations, processing techniques used as well as packaging, distribution and storage. Also, naturally sourced substances are expensive and have a relatively lower shelf life increasing the cost of production and maintenance inevitably causing an increase in the overall cost of the product. Hence products that use clean label ingredients often face the risk of being heavy on the target consumer’s pocket.
In conclusion, as the educated consumer pays more attention to the nutrition a product provides it is the call of the hour for companies to become socially responsible and switch to clean label ingredients that are minimally processed thereby giving our future generations an ethical system to follow and implement with ease.
SwissBake® offers a range of clean label improvers, bread mixes and desserts. For further details of clean label solutions offered by SwissBake®, please contact us at email@example.com
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