The Need for Ingredients That Improve the Health and Safety of Shelf-Stable Drinks – By William Matakas and Eunice M. Cuirle

Food Safety Magazine – October 6, 2014


The market for healthy and functional foods and beverages represents a tremendous growth opportunity for food processors. Research demonstrates that shoppers are increasingly concerned with the effect that the products they consume will have on their health: “Nine out of ten Americans have given at least a little thought to the ingredients in their foods or beverages.”[1] However, they are unwilling to sacrifice enjoyment when making food and beverage purchases, as “taste and price drive food and beverage choices more often than healthfulness.”[2]

Looking ahead, predictions assert that “by 2050 the world’s population will reach 9.1 billion, 34 percent higher than today.”[3] A global supply chain of healthy, safe foods will be more important than ever to ensure a reliable world food supply. Products must be able to travel great distances and arrive intact, flavorful and nutritious.

Natural food additives play a vital role in the creation of beverages that deliver safe nutrition, and maintain their nutrition and flavor profiles over considerable time and distance. They must be safe, efficient and effective. One particular food additive that is uniquely suited to help beverage processors achieve their product goals is carrageenan.

What Is Carrageenan?

Carrageenan is a soluble fiber derived from red seaweed and a food ingredient that has been used for hundreds of years across the globe. It was commonly used in the kitchens of Irish coastal communities, who harvested Chondrus crispus, known as carraigín moss, from the rocky waters along Carrigan Head, giving it its unique name…

Today, it is a valuable commercial ingredient because of its advantageous properties. When used as an ingredient in beverages, carrageenan preserves texture, structure and stability, enabling the export of countless shelf-stable beverage products. It is particularly suitable for shelf-stable dairy beverages and protein-enriched drinks. Specifically, carrageenan has continued to be used in dairy-based and enriched beverages, mainly in chocolate milk and chocolate milk applications such as syrups and powdered mix…

Increasing consumer scrutiny and expanding food safety regulations are bringing greater attention to the ingredients essential to beverage processing. At the same time, the growing world population and increasing demand for improved variety and nutrition profile in consumer beverages makes such ingredients more necessary than ever. Carrageenan is a naturally derived food ingredient that has been used in home kitchens for hundreds of years and in commercial beverage applications for more than 60 years. It has proven to be efficient, effective and safe. In the case of carrageenan, promulgation of misleading science by misinformed consumer groups in recent years has called into question the safety of a centuries-old ingredient. Overwhelming evidence demonstrates that carrageenan is safe for use in food. This fact, coupled with its functionality range and versatility, processing advantages and effectiveness, makes it a valuable ingredient in beverage applications.

William Matakas is the FMC Health and Nutrition seaweeds business marketing manager.

Eunice M. Cuirle is the FMC Health and Nutrition manager of global regulatory affairs.

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