The use of sweeteners derived from the stevia plant is a topic of great discussion and experiment at the moment. Since the FDA in the United States gave its first no objection to the use of extracts with a high purity of sweet component Reb A, other countries have made similar moves. For instance, France recently approved high Reb-A sweeteners, and Australia and New Zealand are allowing those with high purity of steviol glycosides.
Using the sweeteners in applications can call for delicate formulation work, however, as there are reports that an off-taste can occur. A number of stevia ingredient suppliers have teamed up with flavour firms to tackle the problem before product development. Form
According to Purac, a division of Dutch group CSM, a long-sweet sweet taste is common to all high intensity sweeteners, including sucralose and asparatame, as well as stevia. This can accentuate any off-notes of artifical flavours in a beverage.
The usual additive to curb and mellow off-notes is citric acid. But this alone is not effective in stevia-sweetened drinks, the company says.
It has therefore developed a new, high-purity lactic acid called Purac Fit Plus, which can be used synergistically with citric acid. Lactic acid, a natural organic acid that Purac produces by fermentation, is a common flavour agent, preservative and acidity adjuster for a host of applications.
The company says the result has “a round, well-balanced taste and the flavour is boosted, leading to potential savings due to reduced sweetener and flavour use”.
Koen Kummel, category manager of taste and acidification at Purac, said: “Carefully choosing your sweeteners and acids to deliver the optimal sour/sweet balance greatly improves the taste of beverages containing stevia (Reb A)”.
Purac’s product portfolio is made up of lactic acid and lactic acid derivatives, gluconates and lactides and lactic-acid based biomaterials.
Although it has seen the effect of the economic crisis on its sales volumes in recent reporting quarters, Purac and CSM place a high store by investment in innovation. This month CSM discussed its innovation programme with investors and analysts, which aims to bring about between 8 and 10 per cent organic sales growth for Purac.