Cultured Dextrose

Cultured dextrose is a promising natural antimicrobial alternative to chemical additives propionate, sorbate and benzoate

8/3/20232 min read

cultured dextrose to preserve baked goods and beverages
cultured dextrose to preserve baked goods and beverages

Cultured dextrose, a sought-after ingredient known for its natural and clean label attributes, finds widespread use as an antimicrobial agent in bakery items, particularly in bread and tortillas. This product is obtained through the wild fermentation of natural feedstocks rich in dextrose (sugar), employing indigenous bacteria. These bacteria produce a blend of short-chain carboxylic acids (primarily C2 and C3) and peptides. The leading organic acid varies based on the specific enzyme employed; it can be acetic acid, propionic acid, or lactic acid. Among these, propionic acid stands out, exhibiting exceptional mold-inhibiting efficacy within the effective concentration range of 0.1% to 0.5%. Typically, it exists as calcium or sodium salts. In the presence of moisture, propionate salt hydrolyzes into propionic acid, which penetrates mold cells, hindering their enzyme metabolism and competing with essential amino acids to curb microbial growth. Propionate proves more potent against molds compared to sodium benzoate, making it an excellent choice for yeast-raised baked goods, aligning with the health-conscious preferences of consumers and ensuring food safety. While lactic acid or its salt form provides less mold inhibition than propionic acid, cultured dextrose containing mainly acetic acid or acetate salts, does not inhibit mold growth or synergize with propionate in mold inhibition.

Cultured dextrose is a relatively recent innovation. The quality of available cultured dextrose products fluctuates due to challenges in controlled fermentation and downstream purification. Commercial product transparency is lacking, posing a hurdle for potential rapid expansion. Technical data sheets and COAs for most products omit vital details about the identity of key active ingredient and its quantities, complicating product selection and evaluation, given the significant variability in efficacy across different organic acids against diverse microbes. Even scientific publications fail to provide this critical information about cultured dextrose products (ref 1). Our investigation unveiled notable variations in propionate concentrations among commercial cultured dextrose/wheat products, ranging from 10% to approximately 50%. Higher propionate concentrations correlate with enhanced efficacy at equivalent usage levels.

The true measure of cultured dextrose as an economical alternative to synthetic preservatives lies not in its unit cost, but in its cost-in-use when ensuring comparable shelf life to established positive controls like synthetic calcium propionate or potassium sorbate. To ascertain its efficacy, a comprehensive assay is indispensable. This assay involves assessing different cultured dextrose products available in the market, gauging their inhibitory effects on microbial growth at various dosages against negative controls (absence of preservatives) and positive controls (use of current preservatives like synthetic calcium propionate). This rigorous assessment empowers bakers and manufacturers to confidently incorporate optimal amounts of cultured dextrose into their bakery creations, upholding safety and desired shelf life. Our cultured dextrose offers a seamless 2:1 substitution for synthetic calcium propionate, preserving product attributes like texture, taste, volume, density, and shelf life while being cost-effective and boasting attributes like vegan, gluten-free and non-GMO status.

Given the aforementioned technical challenges, attaining high concentrations of propionic acid in cultured dextrose on a commercial scale at a reasonable cost remains complex. Leading industrial products typically contain less than 20% equivalent propionic acid content. Consequently, there has been a rise in the adulteration of natural cultured dextrose with synthetic preservatives. To safeguard product integrity and brand reputation, advanced methods like biological C14 isotope analysis can discern the presence of adulterants in cultured dextrose. To learn more about cultured dextrose and its applications in various food and beverages, please follow this page.

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Ref 1. P. Siricururatana, et al: Shelf-Life Evaluation of Natural Antimicrobials for Concord and Niagara Grape Juices, Journal of Food Protection, 2013, 76, 72-78,