In the last few years, labelling has become more and more important to target a product effectively under the consumer’s eyes. Labelling is increasingly evolving to meet the trends and objectives of society. In this regard, the focus today is to have a clean label, which is based on providing information as simple and understandable as possible, and always free of artificial ingredients and/or E-numbers registered in European regulations. In this blog post we will explain a little bit more about the meaning of the clean label on food.
What does it mean when I have a clean label product?
In fact, the term clean label has no “official” or legal definition, as it was created in a casual way between industry and consumers in response to trends towards healthier lifestyle. Therefore, there will be different definitions or interpretations. For example, some say that clean label products are those that do not contain E-number additives, while others also claim that they are allergen-free products. In short, we can say that a clean label product aims to classify the ingredients of the food, making it easily identifiable and giving a healthier perception.
Why is this clean labelling trend becoming so important?
As mentioned before, clean label products have recently gained more and more popularity among consumers, mostly because they meet the needs of those who are conscious about their diet, in other words, the needs of those who are aware of the ingredients in the products brought to their table, and who deliberately avoid foods that contain synthetic ingredients or additives. This trend is becoming particularly important among young people, who are realising earlier that they want healthy, clean and transparent food.
A different term is “clear label”, which is intended to make products clearer in their content claims and/or nutritional information. However, it should not be mistaken with the term clean label, which literally means that the ingredients of a product do not contain E-numbers.
What are the labelling characteristics of clean label products?
Clean label products base their labelling on three basic characteristics, which are described below.
Less ingredients, but still safe
Today’s consumers consider that the most natural products are those with fewer additives in their composition, while keeping the same characteristics and maintaining a less artificial, more natural and homemade organoleptic. In addition, we must not lose sight of the fact that the lack of certain elements in the product can lead to a significant reduction in its shelf-life. Therefore, manufacturers must find ways to balance the safety of their products and the customer’s demand to consume more natural foods in order to meet this clean labelling profile.
Natural alternatives to artificial additives
Clean label products should be natural solutions to additives and other artificial ingredients. As an example, it is common to replace preservative E-330 or citric acid with lemon juice concentrate. While citric acid is faster in its action and neutral in taste, the lemon juice concentrate requires R&D to establish the most suitable use and dosage, both for functionality and organoleptic characteristics.
Processing and manufacturing of the product
On the other hand, it is also important that clean label products explain the manufacturing processes and the supply chain they go through. The ultimate aim is for consumers to be able to know the full traceability of the food they buy, which will generate greater reliability towards the product and towards the food company that manufactures it.
What can I do as a food manufacturer to include clean labelling as part of my products?
Companies are always changing to face the needs and demands of their environment, and this new approach to labelling is no exception. Consumers want to be sure that their choices are valid for their shopping basket, so it is an absolute must for companies to try to guarantee all the requirements mentioned above.
At Amerex, we believe that there are some essential questions that should be answered when making the switch to a clean labelling on food. Just because we want to improve labelling does not mean that we should remove ingredients no matter what. When replacing an E-number additive with a natural alternative, it must be effective and guarantee a similar shelf life and organoleptic properties to those achieved with additives.
Is the clean label preservative effective in food?
Food will always need ingredients, additives or flavourings, whether natural or synthetic. It is imperative for a company to consider these differences, as the ultimate goal is that food safety is fully guaranteed and it will depend on the chosen ingredients to be added to the food.
Furthermore, it is not only this choice between natural ingredients or additives that is important. We understand food protection as a system of barriers in which the application of any of the following strategies contributes to the final result: good manufacturing practices, heat treatments / HPP, packaging, storage…
Do we acknowledge the technology by which the clean label preservative works in food?
It is important to be transparent and ethical in the communication of the product’s mechanisms of action. Amerex solutions contain well-known and widely used ingredients, with no hidden additives. Any additional barrier to increase safety is always welcome as long as it is placed in a regulated framework and contains complete and accurate information for the consumer.
Is the natural preservative a cost-effective alternative?
As we have demonstrated in other blog posts and can further explain to you in a chat with us, using these natural preservatives is always an investment and not an expense. Beyond the fact that they will normally be more expensive than chemical preservatives, the differences are narrowed by the lower dosages used. And most importantly, when using them we avoid brand damage and quantifiable gains as you are not wasting spoiled product. This solution pays for itself and is aligned with today’s popular circular economy.
Where can I find natural and clean label alternatives for my products?
At Amerex, we always claim for clean labelling on food, as we rely on our biotechnology-based solutions for the development of clean label products that protect against the growth of pathogens and other spoilage microorganisms, and which also prevent commercial food defects (acidity, colour, gas, etc.). As well as improving the organoleptic properties of the final product, making it more attractive to the consumer.
We support our customers on how to obtain a cost-effective, safe and innovative manufacturing process in line with current trends in labelling, whilst putting the needs and well-being of the company and its products first.
Ultimately, we are able to guarantee natural, safe and transparent ingredients for the consumer. No matter which sector you are in, contact us because we can help you find natural alternatives for achieving your desired clean label product.
Phone number: +34 91 845 42 14