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Givaudan files patent for MSG-free umami

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By Kacey Culliney+

Last updated on 04-Sep-2014 at 12:09 GMT

Givaudan said there was a global interest in developing umami taste with lower MSG content
Givaudan said there was a global interest in developing umami taste with lower MSG content

Givaudan has developed a compound blend that creates an acceptable umami impression in food and beverages, enabling elimination or reduction of monosodium glutamate (MSG).

The flavour and fragrance major said the compounds could create, enhance or modify umami flavour. The blend could be used in a host of foods, including dairy products, soups, baked goods, potato chips and confectionery, as well as beverages and oral care products.

“Umami flavour has traditionally been achieved by the addition of monosodium glutamate (MSG) to foodstuffs. However, the presence of MSG in foodstuffs is not universally acceptable, and there is an interest in the achievement of umami taste with lower proportions of MSG than is normally the case,” it wrote in the European patent filing.

Givaudan said it had identified certain compounds and blends that could create an, “acceptable umami impression in foodstuffs and beverages using low amounts of MSG, or even no MSG”.

MSG could be lowered to between 0.05% and 0.2% of the formulation or completely eliminated.

While the compounds identified had relatively low polarity and consequently relatively low water solubility, it said they left a strong umami impression when placed in the mouth even at low usage levels.

Taste tests cited in the patent indicated that one solution without MSG had “more succulence and sweetness and had more lingering notes” than the sample that contained 0.5% MSG. Another MSG-free soup was said to have “more umami” than the sample that contained 1 g of MSG, and potato chips with no MSG were said to have a long-tasting umami taste profile, compared to its MSG counterpart.

Imparting flavour

Givaudan said the compounds could be encapsulated with carrier materials, including capsules, solvents, surfactants, absorbents, gums, polymers or the like. However, these carriers had to be “practically neutral from a taste point of view”, it said.

To create a flavour base, a co-ingredient would also be needed to impart aroma or taste, or both, it added.

“Specific examples of flavour co-ingredients may include but are not limited to natural flavours, artificial flavours, spices, seasonings, and the like. Exemplary flavouring co-ingredients include synthetic flavour oils and flavouring aromatics and/or oils, oleoresins, essences, distillates, and extracts derived from plants, leaves, flowers, fruits, and so forth.”

Flavours that could be imparted by a flavouring agent ranged from cheese, milk, onion and garlic, to coffee, green tea, cardamom and mustard, among others. Ideally the flavour co-ingredient would also impart an umami impression, Givaudan said.

In addition an ingredient to act as a processing aid or to improve handling or storage would be needed, the company added. “It might also be an ingredient that provides additional benefits such as imparting colour or texture to a composition. It might also be an ingredient that imparts light resistance or chemical stability to one or more ingredients contained in the composition,” it wrote.

Examples included solvents and co-solvents; surfactants and emulsifiers; thickening and gelling agents; preservative materials; pigments, dyestuffs and colouring matters; and bulking agents, among others.

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