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Honey replaces additives in French salad dressing: study

By Stephen Daniells , 02-Sep-2008

Antioxidant-rich honey may protect against spoilage in salad dressings, and naturally sweeten the condiment, according to new research from Chicago.

The researchers analysed various honey sources and investigated their potential as alternatives for chemical preservatives such as EDTA and BHA. The findings are to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

“This research adds to a growing body of evidence of honey’s potential to protect against oxidation in various food systems, in this case, emulsion-based dressings, in addition to providing a natural source of sweetening potential,” wrote lead author Carolyn Rasmussen.

"This demonstrates the potential for honey to be used as a substitute for EDTA and sweetener (such as HFCS) in commercial salad dressings.”

The scientists from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign analysed the sweetening potential and antioxidant activity of 19 honeys.

The antioxidant activity, analysed using the ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) assay, and phenolic profile, analysed using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), showed that the honeys from clover and blueberry were the most promising. These were then used in the formulation of salad dressings.

“Formulation of a salad dressing incorporating honey requires careful thought as to the type of honey that would be most beneficial and practical,” explained Rasmussen. “Honeys from different floral sources vary in colour, flavour, availability for commercial purposes, phenolic profile, and antioxidant capacity.

“The appropriate honey will need to be moderate in flavour and light in colour to minimize changes to the appearance and flavour of the dressing.”

Rasmussen and co-workers stored the dressing at 37 degrees Celsius for six weeks and at 23 degrees Celsius and four degrees Celsius for one year. They report that the honeys did inhibit the oxidation of the lipid part of the dressing, compared to salad dressings containing the sugar analogue with no added antioxidant.

“Salad dressings incorporating honey provided protection against oxidation to a degree similar to that of EDTA,” wrote the researchers.

“Using honey to create such formulations may help to replace synthetic antioxidants such as EDTA and thus enhance consumer acceptance,” they added.

International honey

In international terms China is currently by far the largest honey-producing nation in the world, with around a 40 per cent slice of the market. The next biggest producers are the US, Argentina and Ukraine.

According to the American Honey Producers Association China and Argentina have been adversely affecting America's domestic honey industry with cheap imports, although there is a counter argument that both China and Argentina have been helping to counterbalance falling production in the US.

Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Published online ahead of print, ASAP Article, doi:
“Selection and Use of Honey as an Antioxidant in a French Salad Dressing System”
Authors: C.N. Rasmussen, X.-H. Wang, S. Leung, L.M. Andrae-Nightingale, S.J. Schmidt, N.J. Engeseth

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