Key considerations when formulating "good-for-you" ice cream are what you wish to accomplish and what you want to promote about the finished food. These are determined by balancing marketing- and other business-related objectives with regulatory limitations and allowances. That is, when considering a specific "good-for-you" claim, consider finished weight (pounds per gallon) and compositional limitations amongst other objectives. Working backward from a target finished weight per serving can help fix levels of certain compositional factors such as total fat, total saturated fat, total sugar(s), total carbohydrates, calories, etc.
Any health-conscious consumer knows that cultured products are good for you because they help promote digestive health. Any health-conscious consumer also knows that limiting calories and sugar is beneficial as well.
According to in-store scanner data from Information Resources Inc., Chicago, the category called "cappuccino/iced coffee" increased slightly more than 55% from 2000 to 2004. Indeed, ready-to-drink packaged, coffee-flavored, milk-based beverages are an exploding business. Sales of other coffee-flavored dairy products such as frozen desserts appear to be steady, suggesting they are still quite popular with consumers.
If properly incorporated, hydrocolloid stabilizers can provide excellent functional attributes to cultured dairy products. Stabilizers are high molecular-weight hydrophilic (water-loving) hydrocolloids that are added to food products to control water. Many stabilizing compounds are polysaccharides, often derived from plant sources. Examples include seed gums (guar gum, locust bean gum), those isolated from seaweeds (carrageenan, agar), microbially-derived polysaccharides (xanthan gum), as well as pectins, food starch and modified-food starch. In addition, protein-based stabilizer gelatin may be used in certain cultured dairy product applications.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, issued in January, suggests some key dietary changes for consumers. For starters, the guidelines encourage every American more than eight years of age to consume three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy products each day. In addition, they also tell Americans to consume a sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables while staying within their energy needs. For a reference 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, two cups of fruit per day are recommended.
What do milk and tea have in common? Well, they both just happen to be some of the most favorably talked about commodities in the food and beverage industry today. The science and intellectual properties focusing on milk and tea are immense. Specifically with tea, since 2001, more than 1,000 studies have been conducted on tea; and more than 450 patents have been applied or issued for tea products around the world.
Thanks to initiatives by major food companies, the eating trend for the next few years will be improved health and portion control (about time!!!). Three biggies-General Mills Inc., Minneapolis, Kraft Foods Inc., Northfield, Ill., and PepsiCo Inc., Purchase, N.Y.-are on board with introductions ranging from formulation improvements to sweetened breakfast cereals, to turning calorically dense American institutions into snacking options for calorie counters (see sidebar).