Are omega-3 fatty acids the key to boosting declining fresh bread sales? Three bakeries think so because they launched new products that incorporate fish oils in a microencapsulated powder form.
Wegmans Food Markets, a 68-store supermarket chain on the East Coast, was the first company to commercially launch a bread that contains omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish oils. The breads were introduced in January and are available in 100% Whole Wheat, 12 Grain and Very Low Sodium varieties. Two slices of these loaves contain 80 mgs to 90 mgs of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These omega-3 fatty acids are found in oily fish such as salmon, lake trout, tuna, herring and menhaden.
Shortly after Wegmans’ bread launch, George Weston Bakeries’ Arnold Foods division and The Baker, Milford, N.J., released breads and buns with omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish oils. Each of these products prominently display their omega-3 fatty acid content on product packaging.
The popularity of omega-3 fatty acids spurred Food and Drug Administration to approve a qualified health claim of reduced risk of coronary heart disease on conventional foods containing EPA and DHA. Qualified health claims must be supported by credible scientific evidence.
No minimum levels of EPA and DHA have been established to use the qualified health claim, but foods using this claim must not contain more than 13 grams of total fat, one gram of saturated fat, 20 mgs of cholesterol and 480 mgs of sodium per Reference Amount Customarily Consumed (RACC). If a product meets these requirements, it can include the claim, “Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. One serving of [name of food] provides [x] grams of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids. [See nutrition information for total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol content.]”
Incorporating omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish oils into formulas may seem hard to most high-volume bakeries, but breakthroughs in ingredient technology ease formulation. One ingredient supplier uses microencapsulation technology to create a free-flowing powder that is dispersible in water. This ingredient is ideal for the baking industry because it is temperature and shear stable, which allows for mixing and baking. The microencapsulation of this ingredient creates an oxygen barrier that extends shelf life and eliminates fish oil taste and odor.