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New gluten to offer formulation enhancements

By Stephen Daniells , 21-Sep-2009

A low-salt, low-fat gluten ingredient is being developed in Australia, with the potential to offer formulators a product with a lighter colour and enhanced texture.

The new gluten would not cost more than conventionally produced gluten since it can be produced using conventional processing equipment, according to findings published in the Journal of Food Engineering.

Talking to FoodNavigator.com, lead researcher Dr Li Day from Food Research Australia explained that the new gluten offers enhanced dough extensibility and better rheological properties for baked and extruded products. Dr Day added that due to its lighter colour than normal processed gluten, it potentially gives a lighter coloured product.

“This gluten salt-washing process was developed in response to the market from both ingredient suppliers’ and food manufactures’ demand for high quality gluten to meet specific formulation requirement,” said Dr Day.

The technique was developed in collaboration with an Australian company, said Dr Day, “although it has not been fully commercialised yet”.

While much focus is currently on removing gluten from products because of concerns for people with gluten-intolerance, for the vast proportion of the population gluten remains a vital ingredient in many food products.

Gluten is used extensively by the food industry, particularly by bakery product manufacturers to fortify low protein flours in order to strengthen the dough, improve the retention of gas, and generally improve the texture of the finished product.

It is also an important food protein, used in a range of foods from breakfast cereals to meats, and from cheese to snack foods.

The new gluten is obtained using volatile ammonium salts to wash the gluten. “The advantage in using an ammonium salt over a sodium salt is that the volatility of the ammonium salt offers potential for its removal during gluten drying, leading to the virtual absence of salt in the final gluten,” explained the researchers. “Starch quality was also improved by the process,” they added.

The study is said to be the first time that food grade ammonium chloride has been used for gluten production.

The researchers employed a salt-washing process, initially using sodium chloride and then with ammonium chloride. Laboratory experiments showed that this technique could reduce the fat content of the gluten by about four per cent, decreasing from 6.6 to 2.7 per cent on increasing concentrations of NaCl from 0.5 to 2 per cent.

When the ammonium chloride was used in place of the sodium salt, similar results to the 2 per cent NaCl were obtained with only 0.5 per cent of the ammonium salt.

“The improvements in gluten rheological properties and reduced lipid content using the salt-washing process were observed for flours with very different protein content and quality,” continued the researchers.

Scale-up from the lab bench to the pilot plant was straight-forward, said the researchers.

It is not known when this new gluten could be available commercially, but the researchers note that their technique offers several advantages for the industry including “increased gluten yield, ease of gluten washing, superior rheological properties, and improved colour, with no extra capital costs being needed to alter conventional processing equipment”.

Source: Journal of Food Engineering
Volume 95, Issue 2, Pages 365-372
“Enhancement of gluten quality combined with reduced lipid content through a new salt-washing process”
Authors: L. Day, M.A. Augustin, R.J. Pearce, I.L. Batey, C.W. Wrigley

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