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General Mills files patent for cost-efficient flexible dough pack

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

'Generally, the commercial dough industry has ongoing need for improvements in product and packaging configurations, including cost reductions,' says General Mills
'Generally, the commercial dough industry has ongoing need for improvements in product and packaging configurations, including cost reductions,' says General Mills

Related tags General mills Pressure Thermodynamics Baking

General Mills has developed a flexible package for chemically-leavened refrigerated dough that it claims is considerably cheaper than market options and ensures better baking quality.

General Mills said typical refrigerated dough packs on the market relied on dough expansion to internally seal the container and were designed with wound cardboard and two metal end closures. But this pack design, it said, proved costly and led to fast dough expansion when opened which impacted baking quality.

“A commercial desire continually exists for useful dough packages that can be refrigerated, contain a dough under pressure, and that exhibit storage stability and baking performance similar to pressurized cans.

Generally, the commercial dough industry has ongoing need for improvements in product and packaging configurations, including cost reductions,”​ General Mills wrote in its global patent filing.

Flexible design, minimal headspace

General Mills’ flexible pack design, that could include an outer pack if desired, was made using a polymeric or paper-based flexible packaging material without the need for wound card or metal closures.

A number of relatively low cost flexible package materials could be used, it said, including polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or polyester (APAT). These could be designed into a number of three-dimensional shapes and sizes, providing the material could define an interior volume for the dough. 

Crucial to the design was minimal headspace, General Mills said, which had to be less than 2%. Internal pressure also had to be between 7-20 pounds per square inch (gauge).

This ensured controlled expansion during storage – no more than 10% – which would ultimately guarantee dough quality.


Controlling expansion

Chemically-leavened dough, once stored in a pack, naturally expands due to carbon dioxide release. However, General Mills said it was important to control this volume expansion if bakers wanted to guarantee quality throughout storage.

In its design, managing expansion was determined with an ‘expansion potential’ number, achieved by dividing the raw specific volume of the packaged dough by the internal pressure of the package in units of pounds per square inch.

“This ‘expansion potential’ value has been identified to function as a predictive value of bake performance, especially baked specific volume,”​ it said, but also proved important in understanding what ensured a stable, chemically-leavened refrigerated dough with desirable bake properties.

Defining this ‘expansion potential’ required a careful understanding of the inter-relationship between the internal packaging pressure, the fragility of the bubble-in-dough matrix of the dough and the effect of de-pressurization on the dough – something previously unknown, General Mills claimed.

For example, an internal pressure that was too high reduced bake performance, it said, because of excessive expansion of the dough when removed from the packaging, damaging gas cells.

On the contrary, package pressure that was too low could also reduce baked specific volume of the refrigerated dough because of damage to cells during storage, it said.  

With this understanding, however, General Mills was able to design a flexible package and recommend specific internal package pressures and dough volumes, it said.


Source: WIPO Publication No. WO/2014172113
Published: October 23, 2014 Filed: April 3, 2014
“Refrigerated chemically leavened dough in pressurized container”
Authors: General Mills – DJ. Domingues, S. Kackman, DA. Kirk, TA. Tostenson, MW. Lorence

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