A new ingredient made from rice could allow ice cream, yoghurt and protein bar manufacturers to make grain claims on their products, say scientists at food research company CRM.
Creative Research Management (CRM) is marketing its new product, RiceLife, as an ingredient that retains all the protein, bran oils, vitamins, fiber and carbohydrates found in whole grain unpolished brown rice.
The company claims RiceLife can be used as a dairy replacer in yoghurt and ice cream, and as an additional ingredient in protein bars, allowing each serving of these products to contain the nutritional properties of one portion of brown whole grain rice.
"RiceLife is essentially the conversion of whole brown rice into either a powder or a liquid product. It is only the product's form that changes, all other components remain the same," said Rick Ray, the company's vice president of sales and marketing.
Together with a fat replacer, RiceLife can be used in ice cream and yoghurts to replace all dairy components without altering the taste, claims CRM, which will be launching a new company in January in order to market its own line of yoghurts using the ingredient.
"RiceLife can also be used in soy protein bars to include some of the amino acids missing from soy. Some manufacturers who have tested the product have found that it can produce a light, fluffy product similar to a candy bar," Ray told FoodNavigator-USA.com.
"Once we have conducted further tests on the product's protein interactions we will also introduce it to candy manufacturers, for use in healthy alternatives to candy bars," he added.
The ingredient can also be used to make rice milk without the bitter off-taste picked up by some discerning consumers, said Ray. He added that this off-taste is a result of the method used to process the rice, saying CRM had isolated and eliminated it by modifying the hydrolysis process.
The product, which was launched in August, has already generated interest from many of the nation's major food companies, claimed Ray, although he would not reveal any further details.
Canadian company Soya World was the first to use the new ingredient in a rice milk product it launched last month. According to the company, the product is receiving an "outstanding response" from consumers, attracted by its taste and mouthfeel.
CRM said it will start by targeting the health and nutrition sector of the market with its new ingredient, but expects it to gain a wider appeal as the market changes in response to consumers' increasing health awareness.
If RiceLife does indeed carry the properties its manufacturers claim, it could mark a significant step in the development of health enhancing product alternatives. Until now, food manufacturers, such as Danisco, have focused on the use of soy as a dairy replacer in yoghurts, but this tends to have a distinct taste and mouthfeel that does not appeal to many consumers.