Can enzymes ensure healthier picnic baskets this summer?

Summer time is synonymous with outdoor eating and picnic spreads. The average picnic basket is crammed with convenience foods, but with the help of enzymatic processing these easy options do not necessarily need to be unhealthy.

​The global health and wellness packaged food and beverages market grew by 7% in 2013, with food intolerance products increasing by 8% and better-for-you products increasing by 5%*. Enzymes can be used during the processing of foods within these segments to improve the health profile of the final products.

Bringing biotechnology to a basket near you
“Consider some of the typical choices when packing a picnic,” says Flemming Mark Christensen, Global Marketing Manager for Food & Nutrition at Novozymes, “You’ll usually choose some dairy products, whether it’s milk, cheese, or yoghurts, sandwiches that often contain some kind of processed meat, and of course the obligatory snacks and cookies. We’ve solutions that make dairy digestible for everyone, that reduce the salt content of processed meats, and that mitigate the formation of acrylamide in snacks.”

Dairy for everyone!
Adding some nutritious dairy products to your picnic basket is a simple and speedy way to include an important source of protein, vitamins and minerals, in particular, calcium. But lactose intolerance is a common condition, particularly in Asia and Africa. Lactose-free products enable lactose intolerant consumers to benefit from all necessary nutrients available in milk. Novozymes’ lactase enzyme, Lactozym® Pure, effectively breaks down lactose into a mixture consisting primarily of glucose and galactose, which can be safely digested by virtually everyone.
“According to Euromoniter, the worldwide lactose intolerance goods market grew to US$3.3 billion in 2013 and is expected to exceed US$4.8 billion by 2017,” says Flemming Mark Christensen, “Lactozym Pure is an effective and natural tool that the dairy industry can use of to create lactose free products to meet the needs of this growing consumer base."

Maximize taste, minimize salt content
Salt is added to processed foods for multiple purposes – to enhance flavor and texture, bind water and prolong shelf-life. Our bodies need salt to function, but too much can raise blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.  Almost 80% of the salt in our diets comes from packaged and prepared foods, and processed meat, such as sausages and ham. However, enzymes can convert meat co-products into a rich, meat-flavored broth called Meat Protein Extract (MPE). MPE can be used in meat processing as a tool to help reduce salt content.  When added to sodium-reduced meat products, it helps to improve flavor, texture and water binding – so the final meat product is of high quality and has a significantly lower salt content.  
“A Novozymes’ study demonstrates that consequent use of MPE could reduce the average sodium intake by around 5% ** in the US,” says Flemming Mark Christensen, “Novozymes’ Protamex® and Flavourzyme® can be used to make a tasteful MPE from meat co-products.”

Healthier snacks & cookies
Acrylamide is a chemical compound naturally formed in some food types when baked, fried, toasted or roasted and is considered to be a potential health risk. Novozymes’ Acrylaway® modifies the amino acid asparagine which is responsible for the formation of acrylamide during cooking.  This significantly reduces the level of acrylamide in the final food product.
“The food industry cares about food safety and acrylamide, and we're working with many of the industry players in more than 30 countries,” says Flemming Mark Christensen, “Unlike many other solutions targeting acrylamide reduction, Acrylaway is effective while preserving the great taste and appearance of the final food product. Food manufacturers are currently using Acrylaway across a wide range of consumer products such as cookies, snacks, and French fries.”

A healthier future ahead
In Q1 2014, Novozymes reported that the Food & Beverages business grew 8% organically compared with the first quarter of 2013. Enzymes sales for the production of healthy foods were stated to be one of the most significant growth contributors.
“Our journey to help food manufacturer develop healthier foods is not yet done,” says Flemming Mark Christensen, “We will continue innovate and to provide our customers with new technology that improves their business – and the health profile of the foods they manufacture.” 

Novozymes will present their solutions for healthier foods at IFT, June 21-24, in New Orleans. 

*Euromonitor International – ’Ingredients – Global trends and developments in enzymes’
**MPDI – ‘Socioeconomic Assessment of Meat Protein Extracts (MPE) as a New Means of Reducing the U.S. Population’s Salt Intake’