The Importance of Processing Steps and Claims
The Impact of Standard Processing Methods
What Vitamin & Mineral Values are Correct for Your Product?
When developing a processed food and deciding what types of nutrition claims would be desirable for marketing and labeling purposes, it’s extremely important to consider what processing steps are necessary before becoming attached to a specific claim. The raw agricultural commodities that are the starter ingredients may be chock full of vitamins K and C, but once cooked and canned those precious nutrients are significantly reduced in the processed product. These changes can affect the nutrition values declared on the packaged product as well as any nutrient claims that may no longer qualify.
Be aware of the impact of standard packaged food processing methods and how they can potentially impact your product nutrition profile before finalizing product specifications and label designs.
Vitamin C is a commonly found vitamin in many fruits and vegetables, yet it is highly heat-sensitive. Steps such as baking, thermal processing, or pasteurization expose these products to high temperatures that can have a negative effect on the finished product levels of Vitamin C. Reversely, cold helps to retain Vitamin C and does not have a detrimental impact.
Air or Oxygen
For Vitamin C and other air-sensitive vitamins such as Vitamin A found in orange and yellow produce, processing steps that incorporate air into the product such as whipping, mixing or filling can reduce the quantities of these antioxidant vitamins in the final product.
Depending on the final product, pH adjustments can occur throughout the production or as a final process. B vitamins like Thiamin and B12 can be affected by the pH of the recipe, reducing their availability in the finished food.
While a difficult parameter to control, exposure to light during storage and throughout processing can impact the availability of several B vitamins, Vitamins A, C and K. Quick movement from harvest to processing to packaging and storage is crucial to nutrition retention.
Most minerals and many vitamins are soluble in water, so minimizing the use of this liquid during cooking retains much of the product nutrition. Pantothenic acid and Vitamin B2 are oil soluble so if a food contains these nutrients, fat-based cooking liquids should be reduced.
Not all fruits and vegetables are sensitive to the processing equipment materials, but those containing folacin should not be cooked in copper (or contain copper-based additives) if nutrient retention is important.
How Can Mérieux NutriSciences Help You?
When making a determination of what vitamin and mineral values are correct for a processed food, it’s best determined by laboratory analysis of the processed food (not the unprocessed) which can easily be performed by one of Mérieux NutriSciences many chemistry labs throughout the country. Our Labeling Compliance and Nutrition Services (LCNS) department can then take those analytical values and create a Nutrition Facts table for your packaged product label that we can also review for compliance. Contact us to learn more.