Patent Watch

General Mills tackles sodium reduction with leavening method

By Kacey CULLINEY contact

- Last updated on GMT

Bakers could achieve 20-60% less sodium in packaged dough with leavening method, says General Mills
Bakers could achieve 20-60% less sodium in packaged dough with leavening method, says General Mills

Related tags: Carbon dioxide

General Mills has filed a patent on a method to regulate the reaction rate of leavening agents in packaged dough using ions, enabling bakers to use less leaveners which are often high in sodium.

The method relies on a blend of isolated or encapsulated leavening agent ions and counter ions that generate gas at a regulated rate for controlled dough expansion once packaged.

General Mills said introducing an ‘alternate counter ion’ into the dough once leavening agents were mixed in accelerated the production of carbon dioxide, which had several benefits for manufacturers.

Reduced sodium

The company said controlling the gas reaction inside the package permitted lower levels of leavening agents to be used – something which enabled nutritional aspects of the dough to be enhanced.

“For example, many leavening agents contain sodium, so reducing the amount of sodium-based leaveners can result in an overall sodium content reduction in the dough product,” ​it said in its patent filing.

Leavening agent levels could be slashed by anything between 10-60%, General Mills said, achieving between 20% and 60% less sodium.

General Mills said these lower sodium levels could even be enough to make a ‘reduced sodium’, ‘low sodium’ or ‘no sodium’ claim that met government guidelines in the US.

The patent detailed use of magnesium chloride carnallite as a source of alternative counter ions for an accelerated reaction.

sodium_NaCl_salt

Beyond low-sodium, bakers could also use nutritional leaveners like those containing calcium to increase the nutritional value of the dough, the company said. These slow-acting leaveners were previously avoided, it noted, but could become interesting again given the patent method accelerated reaction times.

Made-from-scratch appeal

General Mills also said its method ensured improved control over desired volumes, texture and other organoleptic properties – a challenge in the development of packaged dough products.

“Commercial dough product manufacturers have found challenges in providing a desired level of leavener-generated proofing during production, storage and distribution, and upon use by the consumer.”

The aim among most dough manufacturers, it said, was achieving products that could be baked to have the same or similar organoleptic properties as a made-from-scratch product, something now possible due to the ability to regulate reaction rates in the dough.

bread buns wood

Canned dough example

General Mills said canned dough that used a self-healing function was one example of where its method could be used.

“Carbon dioxide generated in the dough after it is canned causes the dough to expand and fill all of the head space in the can, while evacuating air out of the package through specialized vents. The expanding dough then seals the vents from inside the can, creating a hermetically sealed package,”​ it explained. 

In the case of a canned product, it said it was important to ensure the leavening reaction happened fast enough to cause dough expansion but not so fast it impeded processing prior to canning.

However, it warned that using “manipulative leavener regulation methods”​ could require process changes or reformulation to prevent off-flavors, insufficient dough expansion or non-uniform leavening distribution.

 

Source: WIPO Publication No. US20150132437
Published: May 15, 2015. Filed: May 6, 2013
“Method and system for regulating leavening reactions”
Authors: General Mills – A. Abdelrahman, BW. Robb and DJ. Domingues

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