Designing an Oxidation System for Food Emulsions

May 2022  | Joe O'Neill, VP of Sales and Business Development


Oil and water emulsions are widely used in the food industry. Emulsion technology is present in a variety of food products. Processing and formulation play an important role in creating a stable emulsion. Various oils and unstable food emulsions have a tendency for oxidation and require a sophisticated protection system to control oxidative rancidity. Natural antioxidants are helpful tools for oxidation control in foods and an important element in maintaining food quality and shelf life. Today's new product development calls for natural antioxidants to meet natural and clean label opportunities.

Many vegetable oils require antioxidant protection. Whether it's a water-in-oil(W/O) or oil-in-water (O/W) emulsion, the oil phase needs to be protected against oxidation. Each system requires a custom approach to control lipid oxidation and prevent rancidity.

Our research showed that adding antioxidants to both water and oil phases of the food emulsion has the potential to provide higher oxidative stability in emulsion systems.

Why Is Oxidation Control Important?

Oxidation control is important because it's part of a robust food preservation system. Antioxidants ensure the product's freshness by helping to protect their taste, color, and eating qualities over shelf life.

Oxidative reactions lead to food quality deterioration. As a result of these oxidative reactions, aldehydes, ketones, and other compounds are produced, which ultimately contribute to a negative sensorial experience, like the off-flavors in foods.

The chemical processes contributing to oxidative rancidity are influenced by various factors, including oxygen, heat, light, time, and the presence of certain enzymes. Such reactions can occur in meats, oils, and in food emulsions resulting in changes in color and unpleasant off-flavors. These chemical processes can contribute to rancidity, making the product unsuitable for consumption.

Antioxidants Provide a Measure of Protection Against Oxidation

Antioxidants are useful functional ingredients that provide a measure of quality control and protection against oxidative damage. They work by limiting the free radical production that occurs during oxidation. Antioxidants help maintain the fresh eating qualities of oils and foods and can provide the food manufacturer with shelf life extension benefits. This, in turn, helps protect the food and the manufacturer's brand and ensures customer satisfaction.

Antioxidants can be man-made or can occur in nature. In today's food industry, there is growing consumer interest in the 'free from' trend, including products free from synthetic preservatives. Fortunately, many natural plant-based ingredients have antioxidant potential.

Natural oil-based antioxidants, such as rosemary and tea extracts, appeared to have antioxidant benefits in food products. Today a broader range of natural antioxidants are available, including oil-soluble, oil-dispersible, and water-soluble options.

Oxidation Protection System for Food Emulsions

As a food technologist builds a robust antioxidant system to protect and extend shelf life in food formulations containing emulsions, they may consider a combination of both oil- and water-soluble antioxidants for higher oxidation control. The clear advantage of such a system is the ability to protect against oxidative damage in both the oil and water phases of an emulsion.

A&B Ingredients, an innovative food manufacturer and supplier of natural antioxidant solutions to the food industry, has both natural water-soluble and oil- dispersible plant extracts available to food formulators.

A&B Ingredients has screened many natural ingredients and found that natural plant-based extracts, including oregano and jasmine tea extracts, have remarkable antioxidant potential. The clean-label jasmine tea extract(WST) offered as part of the CytoGUARD OX natural antioxidant portfolio is water-soluble and has powerful antioxidant properties without a negative effect on food's taste or color. The extract's natural flavor functions work as an antioxidant and can protect the oils in emulsions while residing in the water phase of an emulsion system. The oil-soluble version of the jasmine tea extract, CytoGUARD OX-OST, is designed to work in the oil phase of an emulsion. Both water-soluble and oil-soluble versions of the tea extract are heat-stable and provide shelf life extension benefits in any food system where oils may be present.

In summary, antioxidants are an important element of food quality and food protection and are helpful tools in prolonging shelf life and keeping foods fresh. The CytoGUARD OX antioxidants are ingredient solutions from nature. They can help protect emulsion systems from oxidative damage and help extend shelf life and preserve the clean taste, color, and quality characteristics of oils and fats.

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