The company says that its NaturFort RSGT solution, which is a blend of rosemary, spearmint, and green tea extracts, can help manufacturers replace chemical chelating agents like ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) in salad dressings and sauces.
Kemin Industries (Des Moines, IA) is introducing a new botanical extract solution to help extend the shelf life of salad dressings and sauces. The company says that NaturFort RSGT, which is a blend of rosemary, spearmint, and green tea extracts, can help manufacturers replace chemical chelating agents like ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA).
Chelating agents, or chemical compounds that react with metal ions to form a water-soluble complex, are often used to help extend a product’s shelf life and preserve its freshness for a longer period of time. Chandra Ankolekar, PhD, technical manager, grains, fats and oils, Kemin, told Nutritional Outlook that one such agent, EDTA, is on many manufacturers’ lists of ingredients to remove for a couple of reasons. First, there’s its name. At a time when many consumers are rejecting difficult-to-pronounce ingredients, ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid is unappealing to consumers who take the time to read a product’s label. In addition to its negative perception with consumers, EDTA is synthetic and non-biodegradable. According to Ankolekar, many retail outlets are also now including EDTA on their “no-no” list of ingredients.
However, EDTA also has several important benefits that make removing it difficult. It’s extremely cost-effective, Ankolekar says, with little to no impact on a finished product’s flavor or texture. Perhaps most important, EDTA is “an extremely effective chelator.” Ankolekar explains: “Transition metal ions such as iron(II) and copper(I) accelerate lipid oxidation and can degrade the quality of foods with high amounts of lipids in them quite rapidly. Chelating agents such as EDTA sequester these metal ions rendering them ineffective,” thus preserving the freshness of products that have a long shelf life. EDTA is also effective because it is not significantly impacted by acidic pH levels. With EDTA, “the binding constant remains high even at the pH of most acidic foods and beverages (pH 3–5),” she says. “In contrast, at this pH range, many organic acids would lose their chelating capabilities.”
Kemin’s NaturFort ingredient, however, does not lose its chelating capabilities in the way many other organic acids would, Ankolekar says. In order to establish the ideal natural ingredients for the NaturFort solution, the company screened many plant extracts to determine which would most effectively delay lipid oxidation in emulsions, using mayonnaise as a model. “We arrived at a blend of rosemary, green tea, and spearmint extract for optimum performance in this model system,” she says. When added to an emulsion, the rosemary targets the oil phase, while the spearmint and green tea target the aqueous phase. “A part of the actives works at the interphase, which is known to be the hot spot for oxidation, slowing down lipid oxidation and extending shelf life,” she adds.
In a press statement from Kemin, Ankolekar explained that NaturFort comes at an ideal time for manufacturers who have been looking for consumer-friendly alternatives for shelf-life extension. “When replacing EDTA, manufacturers had to sacrifice shelf life or make significant adjustments to their supply chain to store and distribute these products in refrigeration. We have been working on this new solution and are pleased to share that the synergies of the extracts used in NaturFort RSGT’s proprietary blend make it a more effective option than others currently being used.”
Ankolekar says that NaturFort is comparable to EDTA for short to medium shelf life of emulsion-based products. “In our internal study, shelf life evaluation of up to six months showed good performance from this plant extract blend.” But although Kemin’s NaturFort solution is currently suitable to preserve freshness for up to six months, Ankolekar notes that the company is working to improve the solution’s performance to make it suitable for preserving shelf life past the six-month mark. She adds that NaturFort is an important stepping stone for manufacturers who are on the path toward completely replacing EDTA in their ingredients.