No artificial preservatives
Maxine Roman, Kraft Heinz, outlines the challenges and opportunities for removal of artificial preservatives in foods.
The role of scientists in the food industry is to develop food for consumers that is delicious, nutritious, and safe to eat. Quite possibly, the most important aspect of product development is ensuring that the product formula, processing and packaging work together to guarantee food safety.
Food antimicrobial preservatives may prevent the growth of microorganisms that decrease shelf life and threaten this safety. Without these ingredients, many of the packaged food products we find in the grocery store would spoil before reaching the supermarket shelves, or worse, could support the growth of pathogens that cause foodborne illness. Common food antimicrobial preservatives that the food industry has relied on for decades, such as sorbates, benzoates, and sodium and potassium nitrite/nitrate, are derived from synthetic means and, therefore, are known as artificial preservatives.
Modern consumers are increasingly demanding food and beverages free from artificial ingredients to fit into their lifestyles. This demand has given rise to growing interest in replacing traditional food antimicrobial preservatives with those that are derived from natural sources.
Kraft Heinz has been an industry leader in relaunching iconic brands in the US with no artificial preservatives. A few years ago, the company successfully renovated the entire Oscar Mayer hot dogs’ portfolio to remove sodium/potassium nitrate or nitrite. Similar renovations have been launched in the US for other iconic brands in the Kraft Heinz portfolio, including Philadelphia Cream Cheese and Kraft Singles.
Along the way, we have learned some important lessons. A successful reformulation to remove artificial preservatives involves a cross-functional combination of food safety, product development and ingredient research from the beginning.