Confectionery giant Mondelēz has developed a method for enhancing flavours in sweet and savoury foods, including salty, spicy, sweet, bitter, and fruity flavours in chocolate.
Mondelēz UK has patented a process designed to enhance the perception of ingredients in finished food products.
The invention can be applied to sweet foods, such as chocolate, caramel, and baked confectionery, as well as savoury items including potato and cereal based crisp products, and seasonings.
According to Mondelēz’s patent application, the secret ingredient behind the invention is calcium salt.
Rather than improve the taste of a particular food product, Mondelēz claims the addition of calcium salt particles – with a median particle diameter of at least five micrometres (μm) and less than 100 μm – alters the taste perception of its ingredients.
The invention’s main objective is to “provide a food product having an improved taste” to overcome disadvantages in manufacturing, such as the conching process in chocolate making, explained the multinational.
Conching heats, breaks down and refines the particular matter of cocoa to improve the smoothness and taste of the chocolate. The standard rule in chocolate making is that the longer the conching period, the better the taste of the chocolate product. However, conching chocolate for a long time slows down the chocolate making process, and consequently increase cost of production.
Chocolate makers have attempted to speed up this process by conching at higher temperatures, however this can impart undesirable cooked or burnt flavours.
According to Mondelēz, additive compounds can ‘import’ additional flavour or alter perception of the flavour or compounds in chocolate, “however some additive compounds have an undesirable texture and may for example impart a powdery feel in the mouth of the consumer”.
The R&D team found, however, that their invention did not affect the texture of the food product for consumers, and the calcium salt was “undetectable as particles in the mouth”.
Calcium salt particles can enhance one or more of a wide range of flavours that may be present in the finished product, such as salty, tangy, spicy, herby, gingery, sweet, acidic, rich, cocoa, nutty, bitter, minty, vanilla, earthy, mushroom, umami, sour, fruity, smoky, savoury, caramel, and buttery.
By enhancing these flavours, Mondelēz suggested the invention could help save on ingredients costs – particularly on those that are “expensive and/or difficult to handle or mix”.
Reformulation benefits also include the potential to enhance the flavour of ‘reduced salt’ offerings. Low salt products, containing calcium salt, “has a similar taste to a comparable conventional food product”, stated the multinational.
The same can be said of ‘reduced monosodium glutamate (MSG)’ food products, Mondelēz continued. “The inventors have found that by adding a calcium salt…the flavour of the food product is further enhanced and therefore MSG needs to be added to the food product in order to obtain a similar taste to the comparable conventional food product.”
Source: World International Property Organization
Patent title: Food Products
Published online 27 June 2019, publication number: 20190191734
Inventor: Carole Jean Elleman