Lecithin: Fitting the requirements of clean label and beyond


26 Mar 2018 --- Vegetable lecithins are by-products of the production of soybean, sunflower and rapeseed oil. As natural emulsifying agents with first-class technological and nutritional-physiological properties, these lecithins are highly valued in the food industry in particular. Today, already more than 800 million people consume products daily which contain lecithin. More and more synthetic emulsifying agents and stabilizers are being replaced with lecithin. According to Innova Market Insights data, Bakery (30.5 percent) and Confectionery (33.5 percent) are the top categories where lecithin is listed as an ingredient. And it looks as though this trend is not likely to slow down.

Lecico specializes in lecithin and offers high-quality standardized fluid and de-oiled lecithin to its customers worldwide. Britta Witt from Lecico, recently spoke to FoodIngredientsFirst, who confirmed that the market for lecithin is still growing. “This can be traced back to the fact that lecithin provides natural and nutritional benefits for the consumer as well as technical advantages for food manufacturers,” she says. “Besides there is a growing market especially for organic lecithin because the demand for goods from ecological productions steadily increases.”

The demand for organic lecithin and sunflower lecithin is also rising. “In many food applications, a change is taking place towards the use of sunflower lecithin. This can be traced back to the allergen problems caused by soy. Sunflower lecithin is hypoallergenic, sustainable and is not required to be disclosed as an allergen. It offers a special feature over soy as no genetically modified sunflower seeds have been commercially grown worldwide.”

Click to Enlarge“Another advantage is that in all common applications soy lecithin can be replaced by sunflower lecithin in a way that big changes in the formulation are not necessary.  A lot of companies have already been convinced of the characteristics and qualities of sunflower lecithin. The offered amount of sunflower lecithin has grown significantly in the last years so that many companies in the food sector respect this change and want to provide the consumers with this product,” explains Witt. 

Lecico offers lecithins from a variety of sources including soy, sunflower, rapeseed and milk. The company’s new and innovative soy lecithin powder LIPAMINE PC 30 P IP has an enriched content of phosphatidylcholine. “It is used especially as a nutraceutical in functional food formulations, aerosols, ointments, as excipients in pharmaceuticals and liposomes,” notes Witt. “The yellowish powder is a natural choline source, improves liver metabolism and the absorption of lipophilic nutrients.”

“Our currently developed product, Lecico P 580 IP, is an enzymatically modified soy lecithin powder. The lysolecithin has excellent emulsifying, moisturizing and solubilizing properties and is suitable as an emulsifier in food and cosmetic applications,” she says.

Deoiled hydrolyzed lecithins are of high emulsifying capacity and excellent water dispersibility. Lysolecithins are especially useful in o/w emulsions which they remain stable even when exposed to stress factors such as low pH-value, high salt concentration or pasteurization and sterilization processes like in marinades, dressings or reconstituted milk products. In aqueous dispersions, de-oiled hydrolyzed lecithin develops a much higher functionality as being dissolved in oil.

“Due to the interaction of lysophospholipids with starch as well with proteins the freshness and stability of frozen dough can be improved,” Witt adds. “Therefore de-oiled hydrolyzed lecithin represents a natural alternative or addition to synthetic emulsifiers in bakery applications.”

“In canned meats, patés and sausages the natural emulsifier de-oiled hydrolyzed lecithin could be used instead of monoglycerides to stabilize the fat content during the cooking process.”

“Lecithin and ‘clean labeling’ is what customers are looking for: Healthy food, driven by natural products, but sustainably produced and minimally processed on top. This is what people want,” she confirms.

“With natural, organic and non-GMO lecithin it is easy to fit the requirements of a clean label.”

Click to EnlargeLecithin is not just only an “emulsifier” but also a natural and healthy product, with a good image. This is the key driver of the “Lecithin Family” and will continue to be the driver of clean labeling. More than 30,000 recipes with healthy lecithin are already part of this label.

Today, it is becoming more and more challenging for manufacturers to compile their ingredient lists that include elements that are more natural, simpler and free of allergens, according to Witt. “At the same time, consumers are better informed by the producers due to more detailed labeling on the final product. Consumers seek products that are made without artificial, chemical-synthesized additives.”

“Lecico Lecithin is a 100 percent natural product and a healthy choice for a variety of food systems and offers excellent, clean labeling advantages,” Witt says. “As more and more consumers request reliable information what is in their foods, the need for traceability becomes increasingly important.”

“Therefore our customers’ safeguard concerning all non-GMO issues is our highest priority.”

Because the cross contaminations between GMO and non-GMO seeds have increased over the years, the documentation and the analytical methods have become even more essential to ensure segregation. To guarantee non-GMO lecithin, Lecico has developed an appropriate monitoring and traceability system – the Lecico IP-System – that provides detailed analyses and documents to ensure the fully certified traceability. Including independent audits and the supervision of the processing, storage and shipping operation for non-GMO soy and rapeseed lecithins, Lecico meets and surpasses the highest possible standard for GMO avoidance. As the origin of non-GMO lecithin is completely documented and traceable, it is not subject to GMO-labeling according to the EU regulation 1829/2003 and 1830/2003.

“We take full responsibility for all our non-GMO lecithins, delivering only products that we have checked, analyzed and controlled well beyond what legal guidelines require,” Witt concludes.

By Elizabeth Green

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