One of the main goals of the clean label trend is to remove added artificial preservatives and pesticides from our foods and to make labels legible to the everyday consumer. As it stands now, most common food products are adorned with labels listing a dozen plus unpronounceable chemical terms that represent everything from Vitamin B to BHA and BHT, controversial yet widely-used preservatives. As the majority of the general public doesn’t have a background in chemistry and food science, the confusing ingredient names these substances go by are hard to differentiate. The clean label trend is a consumer-led initiative born out of a desire to regain control over the foods we consume through increased transparency and clarity and make our foods safer to eat by minimizing the number of artificial and unnecessary fillers that go into them.
The Clean Label Trend Is Changing Food Production
Things like pesticides and preservatives are common substances and are generally familiar to the public. However, as food producers shift to accommodate the rising demand for clean-label foods, the scientists behind our favorite foods and beverages have to re-examine a lot of other processes that go into the creation of the foods we take for granted every day. For example, an important yet less widely talked about component of food production is texturizers. If you haven’t heard of these things before, you’re not alone, but for brands committed to improving the quality and transparency of their foods, they’re vital pieces of the puzzle that need to be solved. This article explores what these substances are and what it means for your grocery shopping list if you, too, are looking to hop on the clean label train.
What Are Texturizers?
Texturizers, also known as texturants, are substances added to food to improve the product’s ability to withstand extreme temperatures(such as the ones in your refrigerator and freezer) and provide a better texture or mouth feel to your foods. For example, yogurt, a common grocery staple, is made creamy, delicious, and filled with healthy, usable proteins even at very-cold temperatures by the use of texturizers. One of the ways they do this is by stabilizing the proteins. Proteins, biologically, are chains of amino acids that can take many different shapes and sizes. Their shape and size is actually one of their most important attributes, as they often work like puzzle pieces in biological processes. If they lose their shape, they’re no longer capable of performing their work in the body. But as chains of many smaller building blocks, their shape can change in certain unfavorable circumstances or environments, for example, extreme temperatures. In too-cold or too-hot environments, proteins lose their shape and essentially break down. Many texturizers are used to prevent this breakdown and therefore allow the foods they’re in to be heated and cooled (within normal ranges) and still maintain their nutritional value.
Are Texturizers Clean-Label Approved?
Texturizers do a lot of important things for our food that most consumers wouldn’t be willing to give up. However, many in use today don’t meet the standards of the clean label trend. Because of this, texturant producers are jumping into action to find new, clean-label solutions for food producers, and frankly, they’re doing a great job. But finding foods that use them will come down to identifying brands that have embraced the clean label movement and use the best ingredients.