Sugar bloom, the white specks that periodically appear on icing or within sugary dough during long term frozen storage, may not be a food quality or safety issue, but their unsightly appearance can still put to waste whole batches.
The specs increase in size during continued frozen storage and remain in the thawed product, reducing product value and leading to potentially severe commercial problems for the food manufacture.
The problem is that although the chemical nature of sugar bloom is well understood, it remains difficult to control - the phenomenon appears to occur randomly.
"Sugar bloom occurs in products such as doughnuts with icing, which are then frozen for storage," Asymptote managing director John Morris told FoodProductionDaily.com.
"The problem is really not very well understood - it appears random and spasmodic and is not predictable. And the problem for manufacturers and retailers is that it appears two or three months later, when the products are thawed."
However, Asymptote believes that it has now found a means of preventing sugar bloom in frozen products. After some research, Asymptote identified a key trigger in the process that it believed was causing the problem, and then identified changes to the manufacturing process that could remove the problem.
"Our technique doesn't modify the freezing process or the ingredients," said Morris. "What we can do is go to a company and tell them how to deal with the problem, and how they can monitor the freezing process. It's not a particularly expensive step they need to take."
Morris declined to elaborate exactly how sugar bloom can be prevented using the Asymptote method, but claimed that a major UK manufacturer, which implemented Asymptote's changes, saw dramatic results.
"The company has subsequently not experienced problems with sugar bloom in its products," he said.
Asymptote is a specialist in controlled rate freezing and crystallisation, and prides itself on its innovation. Earlier this year the company was granted a European patent for a method designed to stop frozen food tasting inferior to its fresh equivalent.
Some discoveries are happened upon by chance. Morris explains that as a freezing specialist, many companies come to Asymptote to discuss problems that can occur during the freezing process, and things are taken from there.
"We have people coming to us all the time, which can be pretty interesting," he said. "And at least once a month, we get an email from a company somewhere around the world discussing the problem of sugar bloom."