Mick Fretwell, head of science and technology at the UK sugar confectionery manufacturer, told ConfectioneryNews: “The patent focuses on the creation of a manufacturing method that enables us to develop a new soft gum with exceptional levels of colour brightness and flavor delivery, while remaining suitable for vegetarians. This process allows for elasticity to be maintained without the use of gelatin.”
The independently-owned company lodged the patent application in May 2013 under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), an international patent law treaty that allows a uniform patent to be considered by signatory national or regional authorities. National and regional authorities that are signatories to the PCT will now decide whether or not to grant the patent.
“The patent application is currently in progress and we will make an official announcement relating to this once it’s been granted,” said Fretwell.
Combining oxidized starches
The process developed by Tangerine involves replacing gelatin with oxidized starches from different plant sources.
In its patent application, the company said it had found that “mixing oxidized starches from different plants allows the beneficial properties of two or more different types of starch to be combined and for gelatin to be replaced by the two or more starches whilst still producing a jelly confectionery having similar mouthfeel, texture and organoleptic properties to equivalent gelatin-based products.”
It said the oxidized starches may be from a variety of plant sources, such as potato, corn, wheat, rice, oat, barley, millet, tapioca, pea, brassica, carrot, parsnip, pumpkin and sweet potato, but noted that oxidized potato and tapioca starch produced particularly good properties.
“Oxidized potato starch alone provided good cohesive elastic soft texture but had a high hot processing viscosity. This means it is unsuitable as a total replacement for gelatin on its own. Oxidized tapioca starch alone had less textural cohesiveness but still good soft elastic texture with lower hot processing viscosity. Combining the two types of oxidized starch allows the textural properties to be matched whilst at the same time allowing the hot processing viscosity to be controlled or limited for better manufacturing practices,” wrote the company.
It gave KMC 11-34 CS, No.3, marketed under the Gelamyl brand, as an example of the oxidized potato starch that could be used, and Cargill 75505 as an example of a suitable oxidized tapioca starch.
The application also noted that by changing the starches used in the oxidized starch mix, different properties could be imparted to the gelatin-free end product.
Besides being an expensive confectionery ingredient, gelatin is derived from animals, which means it cannot be eaten by vegetarians, vegans and people practising certain religions.
Tangerine acknowledged that for these reasons there had been previous attempts to remove gelatin from jelly confectionery formulations, but that these had proved either cost prohibitive or unsuccessful in terms of the end product.
The solution it proposes in its patent application uses oxidized starches, a group of modified starches that are produced by hydrolysing and oxidising starch at low temperatures with, for example, sodium hypochlorite. This causes the partial degradation of the starch and the conversion of a number of alcohol and aldehyde groups to carboxylate groups, resulting in increased clarity, lower hot viscosity and reduced retrogradation.