Make food safety a priority in 2016

We’ve all made New Years’ resolutions only to watch them fall by the wayside after a short period of time. Yet, like moths drawn to a flame, somehow we cannot resist starting the New Year without framing a resolve either to begin a better habit or abandon a bad one.

This year it might be best to start out with a resolution worth keeping, and that is to maintain best practices for food safety by reviewing food safety procedures for your facility.

During last year’s outbreak of avian influenza, some facilities switched to shell eggs while further processed eggs were in limited supply. Production is back to normal now, and food manufacturers can have confidence in further processed egg products. All of further processed and packaged egg products sold in the United States are pasteurized according to strict standards to ensure their safety. And since the Egg Products Inspection Act passed by Congress in 1970, there have been no recorded outbreaks of salmonellosis linked to pasteurized egg products.

Despite the fact further processed egg products are pasteurized, they still require proper temperature and storage treatment to avoid issues. There are four simple steps that comprise the Egg Safety Cycle, with information applicable to bakeries, foodservice and food manufacturing operations.  You will find a series of brief videos on our website that detail the four steps found here:

In review, the four essential steps for egg safety include:

    The INSPECT phase starts whenever you receive eggs or egg products.

  2. CLEAN
    The best way to avoid many food safety problems can be summed up on one word: CLEAN.

  3. TEST
    The TEST phase starts at the point of receiving eggs or egg products into your facility.

  4. TIME
    The final step in the Egg Safety Cycle is TIME, which works hand-in-hand with temperature to affect the safety, quality and taste of every food product made with eggs.

A proper review of ingredient handling can only benefit your manufacturing facility and safeguard consumers. If you have any questions about egg product safety or handling, visit our Egg Safety & Handling guidelines or give us a call at 847-296-7043.

2016-01-04 13:59:55

Pie or cheesecake? Choose your favorite.

Depending on which survey results you believe the most, either apple or pumpkin pie reigns supreme as the favorite encore for Thanksgiving dinner. In my family, both share space with some cheesecake and other desserts as well, so that everyone can select a favorite (or two—the holidays certainly allow for a bit of indulgence).

While many swear by secret family recipes that guarantee a flavorful outcome, others rely on bakeries or the refrigerated and frozen section of their nearby supermarket. According to Mintel the entire category of retail prepared cakes and pies reached $11.2 billion in sales in 2014, representing a 24% increase since 2009. And 61% agree gourmet or premium products are worth paying a bit extra for, including 72% of those ages 25-34. This is an area driven by indulgence.

Egg ingredients help provide structure and rich flavor in many refrigerated desserts, including cheesecake, custards, puddings, certain pie fillings (such as the ubiquitous pumpkin or pecan) and of course, refrigerated cakes.

The coagulative properties of egg yolks and whole eggs help set cheesecake in general, although there are two broad categories of cheesecake: solid/heavy/New York style, and light/French type that contains beaten egg white meringue for greater volume and a lighter texture.

New York style cheesecakes should bake at lower temperatures for a longer amount of time, with low-pressure steam for a moist environment. Overbaking causes the top of the cheesecake to dry out and crack, and can cause the interior to become gritty/grainy rather than smooth. Cracking also can occur when the cake cools too fast; cakes must be cooled thoroughly in a draft-free environment.

Egg ingredients and starch-based thickeners work synergistically to provide viscosity and structure. Fillings with too much starch can become glue-like and have a pasty mouthfeel. And unlike eggs, which enhance most flavors in baked goods, starches can have a tendency to dull flavors, especially in fruit fillings.

Soft-filled pies or pudding and custard creams rely on eggs for thickening properties—as the eggs are heated they aid product structure. Just note that sugar raises the temperature at which eggs coagulate, and acids decrease the temperature required for coagulation. For shelf-stable pumpkin pies, added moisture (such as water and liquid eggs) should not exceed 100% of the pumpkin weight.

Chiffon pie fillings or Bavarian creams are lighter and rely on the aerating properties of the egg white. As air is incorporated into egg whites as they are beaten, the structural framework created by the egg proteins help hold products together. In addition, egg white helps increase volume for lighter foods, lends an airy texture and smooth mouthfeel and allows the other ingredients to achieve better integration.

As a reminder, all liquid, frozen and dried egg products are pasteurized. Not only has there never been a food-borne illness associated with pasteurized egg products, the process also lends the ingredients a more extended shelf life without sacrificing quality, flavor or performance. To locate a supplier of quality egg ingredients, visit our Buyers’ Guide.

2015-12-21 14:51:30

Grocerant challenge to food manufacturers

Meal planning for today’s consumer is more of a sprint than a marathon. According to research presented by Tyson Foods at a recent conference, 70 percent of shoppers decide today what they will eat for dinner tonight.

Convenience is king – and although the industry has been talking for years about this trend, it continues to grow, fueling the rise of restaurant industry sales and giving birth to a new type of outlet – the grocerant.

Time-crunched consumers in search of quick and easy meals pushed monthly restaurant sales ahead of grocery store sales for the first time in December 2014. And that “share of the plate” keeps tilting more towards restaurant-style dining with each passing month. However, consumers also are thrifty and want restaurant quality food they can eat at home for a good price.

In response, grocery stores have upped the ante to tempt hungry shoppers with fresh, convenient meals on display at the front of the store and in the deli. Offerings include salad bars, soups, sushi counters or minimally wrapped, freshly prepared meals ready to eat after a quick whirl in the microwave. Some outlets encourage consumers to dine in, with small café tables in a side section or front of the store. The wide variety of fresh, ready-to-eat (RTE) meals alongside the dine in-store option has been coined “grocerant.”

This increased foodservice activity means food product manufacturers need to rethink some strategies in order to protect or regain market share.

Key factors defining the foods served at grocerants include:

  • Healthy
  • Fresh
  • Quality
  • Single-serve
  • Flavorful

NPD Crest data reveals consumers prefer to eat at home instead of going to a restaurant in order to keep their dining healthier, save money and because they like home-cooked food. Consumers define their grocery store needs as most closely mimicking fast casual experiences, which promote quality, freshness and customization.

Another driver for this focus on fresh, prepared meals, says Steven Johnson from Foodservice Solutions, is that 50 percent of Americans ages 18 and older are single. This makes a prepared meal an easy choice and less costly than dining out.

While fresh is the top mention by consumers looking for in-store meal satisfaction, they also want variety in flavors. A deli obviously has an easier time catering to seasonality than a packaged prepared food, however, limited editions or limited time offers (LTOs) can work for packaged foods, as well as foodservice. This past fall a number of manufacturers introduced limited editions of popular brands that featured fall flavors, most overwhelmingly pumpkin spice.

One key for a manufacturer seeking to create market interest with a LTO is agility. According to an article in Food Business News, quoting Anil Kaul, Ph.D., chief executive officer and co-founder of Absolutdata, “One of the challenges of the food industry is it typically has a relatively longer innovation cycle from product idea to the shelf...Companies that can move products from idea to shelf very fast are the ones that can be successful.” He predicts a continued emphasis on natural foods as well as flavor swings influenced by global cuisine.  

And manufacturers know the key to agile product development is reliance on a trusted stable of quality ingredients that have proven their performance through a variety of processing scenarios over time.

The good news is that retail prepared foods eaten at home are predicted by NPD Group to rise another 10 percent by 2022—double the growth restaurants will see. This places the consumer in the grocery store. The manufacturer that pays attention to the factors driving new meal purchasing decisions can benefit by keeping products as fresh as possible, providing gold standard quality and foods that mimic scratch cooking as closely as possible. 

Achieving this means using high-quality ingredients and avoiding those that might make the meal seem less wholesome and fresh. The nuts and bolts that hold products together and give them proper consumer appeal are those ingredients that supply both flavor and functional properties and are as familiar to the consumer as the contents of their own kitchen cupboard. Versatile egg ingredients are available in refrigerated, frozen, dried and value added forms to help develop products that fit in with the rising grocerant dining trends. To locate a supplier of quality egg ingredients, visit our Buyers’ Guide.


2015-12-09 15:21:21

Swooning for macarons

Less than one week after the nation celebrates Pi Day on March 14th, New York City pays homage to a light, airy confection that is slowly edging out cupcakes as a bakery favorite. In 2016 the Big Apple will mark its seventh annual Macaron Day on March 20th, with area bakeries creating and selling their own unique flavor varieties. The annual celebration has its philanthropic side, with part of the proceeds benefiting City Harvest.

The word “macaron” stems from the Italian maccherone or “fine paste,” named for the nut flour that forms the basis of this single-serve cookie. Born in Italy, the macaron made its way to France in the 1530s, according to one source. This European roaming gave birth to at least three distinct methods of preparation with the Italian meringue the most common.

The macaron depends on meringue for its shape and traditional light, airy yet crisp texture. It relies on a very simple list of ingredients—nut flour, eggs, sugar, flavoring and filling of jam, cream or ganache. This elegant, single-serve confection also has the benefit of being gluten-free.

More adventuresome bloggers have experimented with a broad variety of fine-ground nut flours, although the vast majority uses almonds. What differs the macarons flavors, with a pastry chef’s imagination the only limit, ranging from plain (yet upscale) vanilla to Cassis, Red Velvet, Rose or savory types in a rainbow of colors.

While exact sales figures are difficult to tabulate, Whole Foods has been selling macarons for years. An article in 2014 in The Atlantic quotes a representative of the grocery chain claiming a 40 percent increase in macaron sales in just one year.

There are both tabletop and industrial depositors to help automate the process and ramp up production for large or mid-sized bakeries and food manufacturers. The important factor whether dispensing by hand or via machine is the viscosity, so the dough correctly flows out of the depositor. We offer sample formulations for French Macaron Cookies using either dried or liquid egg whites and directions for Orange Curd, Mixed Berry or Dark Chocolate fillings.

At home I find flavor inspiration from influential bloggers or YouTube videos. This year for the holidays I might try “Candy Cane” or “Thin Mint” created by Byron Talbott. Whatever the occasion there is a flavor to match and the egg whites to whip up the perfect macaron meringue.

2015-12-07 14:29:38

Eggs atop salads “tops” for boosting carotenoid absorption

Eggs can help, researchers say, at boosting the carotenoid absorption of salads comprised of colorful, mixed, raw vegetables.

Carotenoids are responsible for the red, orange and yellow color of many fruits and vegetables and credited with helping protect against heart disease and cancer by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.

Purdue University researchers recently released a paper, “Effects of Egg Consumption on Carotenoid Absorption from Co-consumed, Raw Vegetables,” published online in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Carotenoids are fat-soluble nutrients.

A news article on the Purdue University website quoted one of the study coauthors, Wayne Campbell, Ph.D., professor of nutrition science at Purdue. “Eating a salad with a variety of colorful vegetables provides several unique types of carotenoids, including beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene,” said Campbell.  “The lipid contained in whole eggs enhances the absorption of all these carotenoids.”

In the study, subjects consumed a salad comprised of tomatoes, shredded carrots, baby spinach, romaine lettuce and Goji berry, either served as vegetables alone, topped with one and a half eggs, or topped with three eggs. Researchers measured a three- to eight-fold increase in carotenoid absorption for salads containing three eggs compared to the salads comprised of vegetables alone. The study used scrambled eggs to ensure participants consumed both the yolk and egg whites.

Carotenoids found in the salads fed to study subjects included beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Egg yolk contains lutein and zeaxanthin and contributed a portion of the carotenoid consumption, while the other three antioxidants are found in vegetables alone.

Researchers stated that most people in the U.S. do not include enough vegetables in their diets and when eating salads often choose fat-free or lower-fat dressings. However, the lipid content of the eggs acted as the agent to enhance carotenoid absorption, increasing the nutritive value of the vegetables.

Tia Rains, Ph.D., senior director, Nutrition Research & Communications at the Egg Nutrition Center commented, “This study shows that eggs can offer consumers one way to include a high-quality, nutrient-rich protein in a plant-based diet.”

The resulting hypothesis is that sustaining a dietary pattern that pairs plant foods with sources of healthy fats at the same meal could lead to greater concentrations of circulating antioxidants. 

2015-11-09 14:48:20

Doughnuts anyone?

Although national doughnut day is celebrated in June, Americans snap up these indulgent treats at a swift clip year-round. One unit of measurement, IRI convenience store (c-store) data showed doughnut sales grew by double digits for the first half of 2014 with no signs of a slowdown.

Americans are buying more healthy snacks, but within the category as a whole, Americans are buying more snacks in general. Baked goods grew by 12.8 percent as a percent change year over year comparing 2013 to 2014 and doughnuts alone grew by 13.2 percent.

Those figures don’t take into account the thousands of small, independent bakers who sell doughnuts alongside other baked items, but it’s safe to say Americans consume millions of doughnuts—daily.

Although I don’t know how it is possible out of a nation filled with creative bakers to choose the best version of any particular baked good, several stories pop up every year claiming to list the country’s best doughnuts. One such list included the Chocolate from Glazed and Infused in Chicago. You can never go wrong with chocolate. It’s hard to go wrong with bacon either. Another doughnut that made one list is a blog posting of a Maple Bacon confection with finely chopped, crispy bacon included in the batter and garnishing the maple-syrup glaze.

Both cake and yeast doughnuts use eggs in formulation, although at different levels by weight and different types. In cake doughnuts, eggs play a vital role in functionality and can range from 0.5-7 percent of the formula. The egg product generally used is a dried yolk solid, which add richness and flavor, but also contribute to tenderness, increased volume, crust smoothness and increased shelf life. Bakers prefer yolks to white because whites will reduce the doughnuts’ fat absorption qualities. In general, according to Emily Munday, culinologist/nutritionist for CuliNex, LLC, Seattle, Washington, “Doughnuts need to strike a balance between tenderness for better eating quality and resiliency, for physical strength to withstand any sugar tumbling, packaging and shipping.”

Yeast doughnuts, according to Munday, rely less on the egg functionality than a cake- or churro-style donut. Whole eggs or egg yolk can be included up to 5 percent of the formula by weight. In a yeast raised product eggs can contribute to better crust color, extended shelf life, and add richness and flavor; generally making for better eating quality.

With the growing Hispanic influence in our country churros are becoming more popular. These Spanish-style doughnuts are made for a choux paste, which is a cooked starch paste enriched with eggs—very different from cake or yeast doughnuts. Said Munday, “Almost all of the leavening power comes from eggs and as such, they contain a high percentage, ranging from 16-21 percent of the formula by weight.” In these formulations, bakers sometimes add egg yolk in addition to whole egg for greater richness, color and tenderness, better flavor and improved eating quality. 

2015-10-26 09:02:14

New YouTube channel

Billions of viewers watch YouTube videos every week, emphasizing the importance of digital communications. The American Egg Board in response is stepping up its digital game.

There is a new American Egg Board YouTube channel, containing a growing body of technical videos to instruct and inform our audience of food product developers about the benefits of REAL egg ingredients.

Sometimes it’s tough to find the expert perspective required to answer a simple yet vital question that could help finalize a project decision. Selecting the right ingredient with the proper functionality for a specified application can fall into that category. Shelly McKee, Ph.D., technical advisor for the American Egg Board, shares knowledge gained from her wealth of experience within the egg product industry.

The new YouTube channel merges instructional videos formerly housed on, with a new series called “Tech Talk,” featuring, short, quick snippets of information that each last a minute or less.

The longer instructional videos provide an in-depth examination of the various functional attributes of egg ingredients such as emulsification, aeration, coagulation and more.

Tech Talk answers the most common questions about egg ingredients, addressing issues ranging from sustainability to the gluten and GMO status of egg ingredients. Dr. McKee gives brief instructions for proper handling, discusses egg product safety and of course, functionality for the major product application categories.

Egg ingredients are versatile, powerful and proven tools in a formulator’s arsenal of functional yet clean solutions. Egg ingredients are available as whole eggs, egg whites or egg yolks, in liquid, powdered or frozen forms. Formulators can work with their egg suppliers to discuss options for added ingredients that enhance natural egg functionality. Click here to view our new YouTube Channel.


2015-10-12 08:02:14

AIB International weighs in on egg ingredients in baking

While bread might be the staff of life, the staff at American Institute of Baking provides a lifeline for the bakers turning out everyone’s favorite pastries, cakes, donuts, meringues and of course, bread. The institute serves as a resource to teach, troubleshoot and lend technical advice so bread and baked goods continue to achieve the highest quality taste, texture and appearance while turning a profit for the operator.

Recently, we interviewed Luis Belozerco, Baking & Food Technical Services at AIB International in Manhattan, KS, to ask about the multiple roles played by egg ingredients in baking applications. Within many baking applications, more than one functional property of eggs is at work. Belozerco dives into best practices to help maintain product appearance, taste, texture and quality. 

Within the videos, Belozerco discusses the three critical phases in production: the mixing process, oven temperatures and bake time. He explains the importance of these three phases and adjustments bakers should consider prior to reformulating.

Eggs are used in varying amounts and supply different functional properties depending on the baking application. For example, the foaming capability and aeration eggs provide is responsible for the appearance, volume and/or texture in products like macarons, meringues and foam-type cakes such as angel food.

Other products rely on eggs for a stable emulsion, particularly in baked goods with a higher fat content. The more egg, the more stable the emulsion.

The final word on the topic? “There is not a single substitute that can replace all of the functions eggs perform in all of the different types of baking products,” said Belozerco.

Prior to joining the staff at AIB International, Luis Belozerco worked for more than 25 years as a baking professional on grain-based products and technical solutions for a number of multinational corporations. Click here to watch the Tech Talk Baking videos.

Photo Credit - Shutter Stock


2015-09-28 08:02:14

Focus on the yolk

With the 2015 Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting & Expo behind us, we’re still fielding questions about the samples served at the show, in particular the dulce de leche pudding. We will soon post formulations for those show samples. Several highlight the emulsifying properties of egg yolk, so a review of egg yolk properties and benefits might be helpful.

Egg yolks are the yellow portion of a whole egg. They comprise 30 to 33 percent of the total liquid weight of a whole egg. They also contain the entire fat content of the egg in a balanced mix of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids with no trans fatty acids. Yolks also contain a little less than half of the protein of the whole egg and a high proportion of vitamins and minerals. Further, the yolk’s lipid profile includes a number of functional and healthful nutrients, including lecithin, choline and carotenoids.

  • The phospholipid lecithin, which acts as an emulsifying agent in foods such as sauces and dressings, can also be used to coat ingredients, aiding in their dispersion in a food matrix. In baked goods, lecithin reduces the rate of moisture loss as well as exerts a tenderizing effect.
  • The xanthophyll carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin make the yolk yellow, providing a rich color to baked goods, sauces and dressings.
  • Egg yolk thickens and binds when heated due to the protein denaturation. This makes egg yolks a popular addition in meat and meat substitute patties and hot sauces.
  • And speaking of the dulce de leche pudding served at IFT, this rich custard, flavored with caramel and vanilla bean, incorporated egg yolks to supply creaminess and flavor. It also capitalized on the egg yolks’ emulsifying and thickening properties for proper texture.

Egg yolks are available in a wide variety of forms, including dried, frozen and refrigerated, for a host of applications. Typically, further processed frozen egg yolk will be comprised of either 10 percent salt or sugar. This is added to the egg yolk to inhibit gelation and avoid increasing the ingredient’s viscosity. Freezing the egg yolk does not affect its emulsification properties.

An enzyme modified egg yolk possesses high water solubility, enhanced emulsifying properties and has greater heat stability. In addition the egg yolk features a full complement of impressive nutritional values.

2015-09-14 08:02:14

Having it your way

Recently we went out for breakfast with our extended family. One person wanted eggs sunny-side up, another had an omelet filled with fresh vegetables and cheese, while a third wanted their side of bacon extra crispy. The meal served as a delicious reminder that the same basic ingredients, like eggs, can combine in so many ways to suit every preference. This is particularly true at breakfast.

At the American Egg Board, each quarter we’re tapping into the breakfast pulse in America to determine the overriding trends ruling menus and driving sales for both foodservice and retail venues.

This quarter, customization and mindful, healthy eating appear as the new normal. Whether they’re eating in or dining out, Americans want to know what’s in their food, where it comes from, how it’s made and they want to eat it their own way. In the latest installment of Incredible Breakfast Trends, we look at these New Behaviors and how they’re affecting American dining habits and breakfast. Here’s a glimpse: 

The Choice is Yours

Trend watchers credit Millennials with inventing customization, but they merely embraced it and led the rest of us toward culinary enlightenment. Americans have always ordered unique combinations of pizza toppings, dipped fries in tartar sauce and built their own omelets. While Millennials are taking the trend to new heights, prior generations also demanded customization. Don't forget, it was 40 years ago Burger King launched its ‘have it your way’ campaign.

The idea of customization is not new, but the delivery format in fast-casual restaurants, such as Chipotle and the like, is relatively new. Consider this: the fast-casual segment revenue grew 13 percent in 2014, which, according to Technomic, is 10 times that of the industry overall. And within the fast-casual segment, the build-your-own segment is even hotter – 2014 sales were up 22 percent

Read more about this Incredible Breakfast Trend here.

The Cultural Evolution of Health

For decades, doctors, government organizations and public health watchdogs warned Americans about the complications of obesity, sedentary lifestyles and diets consisting of junk food. By and large, they were ignored. But change is afoot. From a cultural evolutionary standpoint, it’s been relatively sudden. Setting the stage for all this was the cumulative effect of the 1960s counterculture lifestyle, the health and wellness movement in the 1970s and 1980s, and the recent cultural shift away from reacting to health problems in favor of proactively increasing quality of life.

The phrase “healthy food” means different things to different people. Some use food as a preventative health regimen, while others merely want to avoid sugar. There are those seeking high-fiber, gluten-free or high-protein meals free of meat. Dieters’ needs range from low calorie to high protein. And food manufacturers are left to figure out how to satisfy widely diverse requirements. Breakfast is a great platform to offer many options for virtually any definition of “healthy,” and food manufacturers are taking advantage of this in many creative ways from high protein breakfast bowls to egg white breakfast sandwiches.

Read more about this Incredible Breakfast Trend here.

Eggs are a good source of protein—in fact, they’re one of the only complete sources of protein. One egg supplies all nine essential amino acids, which are found in greater amounts in eggs than in plant-based proteins. This helps eggs fit easily into a high protein breakfast bowl or meal.

And talk about customization—at last Saturday’s morning meal, everyone in our party had eggs on the plate and each dish was prepared a different way. Looks like the future of breakfast will continue sunny-side up for those who like it packed with protein and filled with almost limitless choices.

2015-08-31 07:02:14