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Stabilizers are extremely cost efficient. They are usually used at levels lower than 1%, and often at levels of less than 0.10%. Although the cost per pound may appear high compared to other stabilizers such as starch or gelatin, the actual cost of use in the product can greatly reduce your formulation costs.
There is no flavor masking as can sometimes be the case with starches and gelatins, because our stabilizers are used at such low levels. By using such a small amount of stabilizer, the flavor is free to release. As a result, a product made with stabilizers will have a much quicker and sharper flavor release profile, than a product which uses other stabilizers. Needless to say, this may also enable a reduction in the amount of flavor you are currently using thereby further encouraging cost efficiency.
Gums are a great source of dietary fiber with very little if any caloric value added. It is for this reason that gums are used extensively in diet control foods.
Stabilizers have an especially important role in creating diet foods (Diet, Dietary, Reduced Calorie and Low Calorie Foods) The first and foremost method of caloric reduction is through the elimination of food solids. When solids are eliminated, many changes occur in the organoleptic qualities of the food, such as a reduction of viscosity or loss of mouthfeel.
Through the use of stabilizers, the texture and mouthfeel of the original product can often be maintained or replicated.
Many weight loss products also require the use of stabilizers to increase bulk in the stomach through swelling of the food.
There is no real caloric value to gums. A few gums have trace quantities of fat and protein. Since most gums are used at very low levels (0.01 - 1.0% of the food) there is usually no significant nutritional value or calories added.
The majority of gums are all natural.
Gums are also used by many people who cannot tolerate the gluten that is found in wheat derived products. Many health food stores carry guar gum and xanthan gum to replace wheat starches as thickeners for this purpose (do a search on "celiac" to learn more). Coyote Brand Stabilizer ST-101 for example adds necessary structure and desirable mouthfeel to gluten free products.
There are a wide range of gums which are on the National Organic Program list for use in "Organic" and "Made With Organic" label declarations. "Organic" labeling would allow 5% ingredients to be non certified but on the NOP list. "Made With Organic" would allow for 35% non certified organic but on the the NOP list.
Gums listed on the accepted list for "Organic" or "Made with Organic" use:
*Self determination for compliance with NOP regulations
Gums are Safe
With rare exception (gum tragacanth is a rare exception) gums are non-allergenic and safe. Just think of gums as another form of wheat flour (without the gluten for people who are gluten intolerant) or corn starch. They're that safe! Think we're biased? Check out how the people at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a non-profit consumer advocacy group, rate the safety of gums and other food additives in their Chemical Cuisine Guide.
Many studies have been done, such as the study by Dr. Anderson at the Medical Center of Kentucky in Lexington, showing guar and locust bean gum to be useful in diabetes and cholesterol control. We will not make any claims here, but a little research might be interesting.
Oh, and about that commercial
Yeah, that commercial. It's been around for a while. It shows a woman reading from an ice cream label and exaggerating the pronunciation of guar (goo-wahr) and carrageenan, etc. trying to make them sound as if they were the dreg remnants of a nuclear reaction. They then go on to say how their ice cream doesn't contain goo-wahr. The implication of course is that guar and carrageenan are chemical and bad for you. Don't be misled. Guar, carrageenan and the other natural gums (probably about 90% of the gum industries products) are very similar to, and as natural and good for you as wheat flour, arrowroot and corn starch. Adding gums to ice cream is no different than adding starch to a pudding.