Lucy Whittaker | Jul 17, 2023
US bio-based ingredients startup BioVeritas has developed an effective clean-label mould inhibitor that removes the need for traditional, petrochemical-based ingredients, without compromising taste, it claims.
The company, which uses a proprietary upcycling and fermentation process, today shared the findings of a third-party study conducted by a leading independent university sensory research lab demonstrating the efficacy of the ingredient. Focussing on bread, the study found that the mould inhibitor performed as well as its petrochemical-derived counterparts and had no noticeable effect on the flavour or texture of the finished product. “In the food world, if you cannot deliver on flavour, having a clean label is almost meaningless,” said Pareen Shah, chief commercial officer at BioVeritas. This development offers a solution to the long-standing challenge of balancing consumer demands for effective non-petrochemical-based ingredients and end-products that deliver on taste and texture.
Replacing petrochemicals with upcycled biomass Inspired by the natural process that takes place in the rumen of a cow – one of a cow’s four stomachs –, the startup uses mixed culture fermentation to transform upcycled food and agricultural residues into clean-label ingredients for application in the food industry.
“The BioVeritas Process has been tested with over 30 bio-based feedstocks; it currently utilises vegetable glycerol and corn steep liquor, byproducts of the biodiesel and corn wet milling processes, respectively, which are upcycled with our proprietary technology,” Shah said. The end-products are organic acids (C2-C6) that inhibit mould in food formulations, particularly baked goods, without the use of toxic solvents or mineral acids.
“Propionic acid (C3) has long been the gold standard in the baked goods industry for food preservation and has traditionally been derived from petrochemicals. Our mould inhibitor utilises propionic acid produced through the fermentation of excess biomass, rather than petrochemicals, allowing it to carry a clean label name,” Shah said.
The ingredient outperforms competitors on shelf life and value for money
According to the startup, the high purity of the ingredient is what makes it effective in inhibiting microbial growth and preserving the taste and texture of finished products.
In a recent shelf-life study, BioVeritas' clean-label ingredient demonstrated an average shelf-life extension of 30% in bread loaves and tortillas compared to a leading competitor.
The same study showed that the recommended effective dosage of the startups’ mould inhibitor is three to five times lower than that of other clean label ingredients on the market. This offers manufacturers enhanced cost efficiency in logistics and may contribute to reducing the carbon footprint of food brands.
What does the future hold for the startup?
To date, studies on the efficacy of the mould inhibitor have centred around the preservation of baked goods, yet the company has also seen interest for the ingredient’s antimicrobial properties in processed meat and food, Shah said. BioVeritas is currently pursuing self-affirmed generally recognised as safe (GRAS) status for the ingredient and has plans to commission its first commercial plant in 2026 in the US, first targeting the clean-label sector of the North American baked goods industry.
“Given the portability of this technology — at its core it is a fermentation tank and the associated processing equipment — this technology is inherently scalable and location agnostic, so can be applied in any geography,” Shah said. The company is currently testing samples with global ingredient companies and finished food manufacturers. “We are eager to partner with these innovative companies to deliver a clean label product that checks all the boxes for both producers and consumers – a simple label, extended shelf life, and a familiar sensory profile,” Shah said.