Back from the future: Eggs a functional ingredient for more than baked goods
Eggs were ‘once criticized and maligned’ for their cholesterol content, but dietary guidelines have recently found a happy home for the common ingredient, according to Elisa Maloberti, head of egg product marketing at AEB.
“There’s almost a mind shift with some of the prominent health associations,” she said, pointing to the American Heart Association (AHA) as an example. They are indeed a source of dietary cholesterol, according to the AHA, but most people can ‘reasonably’ consume an egg a day as part of a healthy diet.
New dietary guidelines in the US, along with the proliferation of vegetarianism and the Mediterranean diet, have “pretty much opened the door for egg consumption,” said Maloberti.
“Eggs are multifunctional. They perform a whole host of functional benefits – everything from aeration in baked goods to providing color, texture, even the aroma can be contributed to eggs.”
They are also a recognizable ingredient.
More than nine in 10 US households keep eggs in their refrigerator, making them what Maloberti calls a ‘cupboard-friendly ingredient.’ CPG companies outside the traditional bakery arena, especially in snacking, are capitalizing on this fact.
“Once eggs are removed from their shell, you get a whole host of new products that are available to food manufacturers, each having their own unique product attributes and benefits to food formulations,” she said.
Dry eggs offer a longer shelf life due to their lack of moisture and they allow manufacturers to accurately and efficiently control moisture content. Liquid eggs – substituted for in-shell eggs at a 1:1 ratio – have a 12-week shelf life, though that of the final food product would vary.
Traditional source of protein
Hard-cooked eggs and egg whites have found their way into protein packs and bars, which Maloberti said “speaks to the consumer acceptability of protein as far as a snacking ingredient.”
For example, she noted snacks like Quevos’ egg white crisps, Lesser Evil’s egg white puffs and DNX Bars’ meat bars that use egg whites a a binder.
“We recognize that the marketplace has other opportunities for protein ingredients, but what we have noticed is that when these egg replacer ingredients come on the marketplace, they are able to emulate maybe one or two different protein attributes of eggs. Eggs can perform more than 20 different textural, functional attributes in food products, and oftentimes can provide more than one functional benefit in a food application.
“You may need to mask the flavors or add some coloring because they’re lacking in one attribute or another. When you do that, you’re increasing your ingredient statement.”