Health continues to influence consumption choices, and attention on processing and production has increased among consumers. They are increasingly aware of the close link between food and health, and pay ever more attention to the ingredients found in the food products they buy. Healthy eating is also becoming ethical eating, as people’s awareness on sustainability is growing too: they not only want to know what is in the food they consume, but also how it is produced, what kind of resources have been used, and in what quantities. Therefore, the need for the food industry has become more pronounced in both for the retail and industrial markets, to meet consumer values – first of all the global value of “all natural”. To respond to these demands, manufacturers must be able to provide food products with the synthetic ingredient content reduced to a minimum, while maintaining product quality and shelf-life.

At the same time, governments are developing new regulations and guidelines in order to improve the food safety system. In particular, regulatory bodies are committed to reducing or abolishing certain substances previously permitted, such as synthetic flavourings and/ or additives. Their presence in food – although technically useful – may represent a concern for consumer health or environmental sustainability.

An effective solution for both producers and consumers is to be found in certain botanical extracts. The use of botanical flavourings to replace synthetic ones, or to provide a more natural and genuine taste, represents an innovative solution to address new challenges for food industry. Thanks to their particular polyphenol composition, some botanical extracts can offer the added benefit of an antioxidant effect on the matrix: this is achieved, for example, by inhibiting peroxidation and by chelating metal ions such as
iron and nickel, by which process they are removed from the food matrix. Chelated ions are no longer available as catalysts of oxidative reactions, thus reducing the oxidation rate of the whole food matrix.

This article is available in full in the Winter 2017 issue of Nutraceuticals Now