Finnish bid to boost gluten-free bread quality

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Wheat, Celiac disease

Applications for new technology that aims to boost the sensory, nutritional, and overall quality properties of gluten-free bread include the addition of rye-bread flavour into such breads, claims the cereal technology group based at the University of Helsinki.

According to lead researcher, Dr Jussi Loponen, the team is currently fine tuning the technology devised for use in gluten-free baking application, with ongoing testing in regard to its safety for gluten sensitive consumers.

He said that rye flavour gluten-free breads will strongly appeal to Scandinavian consumers with celiac disease as the traditional preference in these markets is for the stronger tasting breads and he added that the group will present on the results of its trials at a June seminar on cereal products and beverages in Tampere in Finland.

The key idea of the novel technology, claims the research team, is to render gluten-containing cereals into gluten-free mode through extensive breakdown of gluten proteins by utilizing enzymes originating from the cereals themselves - the endogenous cereal enzymes.

Moreover, they said that the process involves these enzymes efficiently hydrolyzing the gluten proteins and the Finnish scientists maintain that by using the technology, up to more than 99.5 per cent of the gluten can be efficiently eliminated so that none is detectable by gluten quantification methods.

In addition to elimination of gluten, said the researchers, the protein hydrolysis produces small peptides and amino acids as hydrolysis products, which can act as flavour precursors because they are converted into volatile flavour compounds during fermentation and baking, and thus add typical sourdough bread flavour into the final products.

The researchers said that they have demonstrated that in rye malt sourdoughs the extent of rye gluten degradation was more than 99.5 per cent and means that such sourdoughs can be used as a part of low-gluten baking applications.

“We showed that the use of rye-malt sourdoughs in oat baking increased the rye-bread like flavour of oat bread and also increased the crust colour development. The inclusion of malt-sourdoughs also brings enzymes into the dough system that may improve the baking performance of gluten-free flours,”​ stated the scientists.

Meanwhile, according to US trends forecaster Suzy Badaracco, the mainstream adoption of gluten-free diets is a movement on the way out.

Gluten-free foods have rapidly increased in popularity over the past few years – partly as a result of better diagnosis of celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder triggered by exposure to gluten, the protein in wheat, barley, rye and spelt.

However, there has also been a mass movement toward gluten-free products by those who have self-diagnosed wheat or gluten intolerance or who believe gluten-free to be a healthier way of eating.

However, Badaracco told FoodNavigator-USA.com that people who have tried adhering to a gluten-free diet for reasons other than celiac disease are drifting back to gluten-containing foods, and that this drift is likely to pick up pace.

“This is a house of cards just waiting to fall​,” she said. “It’s a medical diet, right? It’s hard to stick to.”

As well as her trend forecasting business for the food industry, Badaracco is also a qualified dietician, and she said that those who choose to avoid gluten-containing foods often end up with poorly balanced diets.

“They’re missing fiber, missing B vitamins,” ​she said. “And these foods are higher in fat typically that other products.”

However, even if people without celiac disease decide to go back to eating gluten, wider availability of better, tastier gluten-free products could be one of the longer lasting consequences of the gluten-free movement, as food manufacturers have worked hard to formulate better quality products.

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