Lingering questions and misperceptions about enzymes hamper a baker’s ability to realize their full potential of benefits. As nature’s choreographers, enzymes are highly functional solutions and a definite asset to the baker’s toolbox. They provide advantages ranging from efficient dough conditioning to enhanced crumb softening. What are enzymes? How are they derived? How do they effect labeling? To set the record straight, here are the most common myths about enzymes unraveled.
Myth #1: Enzymes are living organisms.
FACT: Enzymes are proteins, not living organisms.
- Although enzymes are not living organisms, all living things contain enzymes. Enzymes are found everywhere in nature and are essential to life.
- Enzymes are catalysts, bringing speed and efficiency to a very specific biochemical reaction by either joining molecules together or breaking them apart. The molecules enzymes react upon are referred to as substrates. As catalysts, enzymes are not consumed by this reaction. Enzymes can continue to work so long as the specific substrate is available, and the conditions (pH and temperature) are suitable.
- What’s an enzymatic reaction? Take for instance amylase reacting with starch—the amylase will breakdown the starch molecule into smaller products, such as glucose, maltose and/or other smaller carbohydrates.
Myth #2: Enzymes are GMOs (genetically modified organisms).
FACT: Enzymes can never be GMOs.
- Since all enzymes are not living organisms, they can never be GMOs.
Myth #3: Enzymes are food ingredients.
FACT: Enzymes are typically classified as processing aids, not food ingredients.
- As defined by the U.S. FDA Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), processing aids are, “substances used as manufacturing aids to enhance the appeal or utility of a food or food component, including…catalysts…” (https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=170.3)
- Furthermore, the CFR states, “processing aids, which are substances that are added to a food for their technical or functional effect in the processing but are present in the finished food as insignificant levels and do not have any technical or functional effect in that food.”
- Enzymes are processing aids because, as catalysts, their benefit is during the production process. Although the function can positively impact the characteristics of the finished food, enzymes typically do not have a function in the finished food. Oftentimes enzymes are inactivated during the final food production, whether it’s based on temperature, pH, or absence of substrate.
Myth #4: Enzymes are new to the bakery industry.
FACT: Enzymes have been present in baked goods for decades.
- Enzymes have been a part of baked goods for as long as bread has been made, since small quantities are present in many of the raw agricultural ingredients used to make baked goods, such as wheat flour. Industrially manufactured enzymes became mainstream for exogenous use in bakery formulations in the 1980s. Demand has grown since as manufacturers seek products with a longer shelf life and more consumer-friendly labels.
- Within the past decade or so, enzyme producers have really started to unlock the full potential of enzymes in their ability to help bakers solve challenges, such as enhancing softness/shelf life, increasing dough strength and product volume, expanding a brand’s geographic presence and consumer base, and reducing dependence on synthetically-derived ingredients.
Myth #5: Enzymes are not as effective as traditional emulsification ingredients.
FACT: Enzymes can meet or outperform the functionality of traditional emulsification ingredients.
- Breadmaking can be quite simple with the right combination of flour, water, yeast, and salt. But on an industrial scale, the manufacturing process must be considered. Additionally, the desire for extended softness necessitates the addition of other ingredients, such as monoglycerides that offer both functionality and cost effectiveness.
- As a result of the clean label trend, bakers are exploring ways to replicate the utility of traditional solutions with functional alternatives. Enzymes are an excellent tool to use in this process due to their potent ability to function effectively in bakery systems. Bakers can complement traditional emulsifiers and other ingredients with enzymes to achieve synergies in their formulations. Or, they can use enzymes alone for the same or improved process tolerance and/or maintained softness throughout the desired shelf life. As enzyme research and development in bakery applications progresses, greater use of enzymes will undoubtedly continue, thereby increasing the adoption of this exciting technology.
Myth #6: Enzymes don’t have a role in your sustainability story.
FACT: Enzymes play many roles in a company’s sustainability story.
Understanding enzymes’ positive impact on the planet from field to baked good is important for your business.
- Reduce Production Waste
- Starting with baking, enzymes can be used in a formulation for various purposes. First, they are very effective maintaining dough strength during the manufacturing process, leading to an increased number of high-quality finished baked goods and less production waste.
- Reduce Distribution Waste
- Reduce Store Waste
- Additionally, baked goods with the specified volume withstand rigorous transportation, distribution and store handling better, further reducing distribution waste.
- Reduce Production Footprint
- Increased Production Efficiencies
- Another function of enzymes is to help maintain a baked good’s soft and elastic crumb throughout the desired shelf life. This impacts sustainability since a bakery can serve a broader geographic area from fewer production facilities, decreasing their manufacturing footprint and increased efficiencies.
- Reduce Food Waste
- Bakery items that retain their visual and sensory appeal give consumers ample time to enjoy baked goods and reduce food waste.
Premier processing aid
With a greater understanding of enzyme technology, industrial bakers can use enzymes in multiple ways to optimize production, enhance eating quality and sustain shelf life. For instance, when used in sweet bakery applications, such as donuts, specifically tailored enzyme solutions allow the product to stay softer, more resilient and maintain more moisture over time than other products on the market. This gives bakers an opportunity to expand their geographic reach, differentiate products, and potentially grow share in a competitive market.
One of the ways bakers have adopted enzymes in bread and buns is to act as dough conditioners and oxidizers for formulations designed to meet clean label objectives in brands looking to attract this segment of the market. It can be a challenge to get the taste and texture right, while crippled product and associated waste hurt the bottom line. Robust enzymes solutions give a win-win: they enable a reduced dependence on chemical emulsification while improving dough handling and delivering a fine, uniform crumb structure.