Enzymes are catalysts for change

Chef carrying tray of bread in kitchen

Minimal labeling is one of the biggest trends in the food sector, with consumer interest in “all natural” products running at an all-time high. It’s all about addressing the consumer desire for simpler, easier to understand, back-to-basics propositions.

Enzymes can play a role when it comes to simplifying product lists. When they are used as processing aids, they are not required to appear on the label, because they are not functional anymore in the final food and are often deactivated during the process, e.g. baking enzymes being denatured by the baking heat. In some cases, however, like in cheeses for example, they do appear on the label as they are used as functional ingredients rather than as processing aids.

When used as an alternative to emulsifiers like monoglycerides, DATEM and SSL in baked goods, they do appear as simply ‘enzyme’ rather than DATEM or SSL which are chemical sounding names to many consumers.

In most cases substituting these emulsifiers with alternative enzymatic solutions results in cost saving as well. “Enzymes are driving bakery product development, where the trend is towards using enzymes for emulsifier free formulations, for both cost and more positive consumer perception reasons. DATEM and SSL are typically used in yeast raised bakery goods due to their dough strengthening effect. Monoglycerides are used as a crumb texturing agent. But enzymes can extend shelf-life and mimic these chemical emulsifiers,” says Beeta Little, Technical Development Manager at Brenntag Food & Nutrition (F&N) in North America.

It is this shelf-life extension advantage that is also helping to spur development, where concerns around food waste can be addressed. It has been estimated by the UN that if food waste were a country, it would be the third largest greenhouse emissions contributor in the world. The bread sector is part of this too. In fact in 2016, almost one-third of bread produced in the US was wasted. Of the bread that makes it to the US markets each year, 68% is consumed, while 20% is wasted in the kitchen and 12% is wasted in the store. It means that in 2016 a shocking 2,682 million kilograms of bread was simply thrown away in the US alone.

“Even though bread is one of the highest consumed products percentage wise, there is still a lot waste because it gets stale or moldy. Even the stores have to throw out a lot of inhouse products,” notes Beeta. “Staling is the number one reason for throwing bread away. Enzymes can play a role in countering staling and thereby help to reduce bread waste,” she adds.

Cropped Hands Kneading Dough On Kitchen Counter
Greek yogurt in a glass jars with spoons,Healthy breakfast with Fresh greek yogurt, muesli and berries on background.

Development within the anti-staling enzyme space is ongoing. For example, Brenntag F&N North America partner AB Enzymes now offers VERON MAXIMA, a third generation maltogenic amylase with no dosing limitations that can provide extended shelf-life, softness, and resilience to the bread. The use of this innovative enzyme can deliver a shelf-life of more than 2 weeks. It should, however, be seen as part of a holistic solution, where a clean label anti-microbial would also be required for preservation against molding.

Another key innovation from the AB Enzymes portfolio is VERON GMS+, which is being offered as an alpha amylase to fully or partially substitute SSL or monoglycerides and ensure predictable prices and cost savings. VERON GMS+ is used for the treatment of flour and can be added to bread improvers, which are used in the manufacturing of yeast-raised baked goods. The product significantly improves the crumb softness, in addition to providing a homogeneous, and fine crumb structure. Depending on the recipe and application, 25-40% of emulsifier costs can be saved when using this enzyme. Other solutions being highlighted for the bakery space include VERON HYPERBAKEST, a lipase enzyme which can be used as an alternative to DATEM at an exchange ratio of 0.6-0.7g for 100g DATEM.

But enzymes innovation goes far beyond bakery. Brenntag F&N in North America now offers fruit and wine enzymes under its umbrella too. Through their AB Enzymes partnership, the company is also clearly positioned to address the protein and grain industries as well.

“There is a strong future for development within this space, with so much potential out there,“ says Beeta. For example, AB Enzymes holds the patent for the use of transglutaminase in bakery applications. This unique enzyme has the ability to improve dough quality through gluten protein crosslinking. Transglutaminase’s ability to improve dough rheology makes it perfect for frozen doughs in particular. Soft doughs can benefit from transglutaminases as it improves shape control and viscosity.

professional chef hands kneading bread dough on kitchen counter