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Innovating with Pulse Ingredients – How One Company is Elevating Batters and Breading to a New Level (PCN Fall 2015) OCT 1 2015 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News

This article appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Pulse Crop News.

Anya McNabb, Pulse Canada

With every bite that you take from a chicken finger or fish stick your brain makes an assessment. It’s crispy, or perhaps too crumbly or too salty. Each one of these assessments can determine whether or not you’ll buy the product, so food companies take them very seriously.

Griffith Laboratories has been working to make sure that breaded and battered products meet consumer expectations on all levels, and they’re using pulses to do so.

Griffith is a bulk ingredient processor with facilities in 18 countries. The facility in Toronto is one of their largest and is the global research and development centre for breading. Their main focus is creating seasonings, batters and crumbs to coat meat products like chicken, fish and seafood, as well as vegetables like onion, zucchini and mushrooms. Your favourite chicken fingers, fish sticks and onion rings all come from places like Griffith.

Increases in food allergies, celiac disease and gluten sensitivities have food companies looking for new food products that appeal to a new customer segment that typically stays away from coated foods. Thanks to pulses, battered, breaded or thickened foods soon won’t need to be off limits to these people.

“Our goal is to deliver texture, flavour and appearance; adding value to items being coated,” said Joachim Baur of Griffith Laboratories. “We’ve started using pulse ingredients to enhance nutritional and functional properties. The allergen-free potential is a strong saleable bonus.”

Griffith began working with pulse ingredients in April 2014 after receiving financial support from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) through the Agri-Innovation Program. Pulse Canada led the development of the AAFC funding application for the Griffith project, as well as projects with two other multi-national food manufacturers.

“It was a combination of our resources, the funding support of AAFC and the existing research that allowed us to make significant progress in the application of pulse flours, fibres and proteins in the coatings category,” Baur said.

Some of the previously-funded research projects looked at using extrusion technologies to develop puff or crisp type snacks similar to Cheetos. Some others worked with whole or milled puffs/crisps to create bread crumbs that could be sold to coatings companies.

Using the results of this research and their long-term experience of cooker extrusion and dough processing, Griffith created a line of pulse-based crumbs modelled after the Japanese-style, wheat-based crumb or “J-crumb.” Griffith examined the shortfalls of previous products and determined what criteria the new crumb would need to fill to perform better than the J-crumb.

They determined that the new crumb would need to meet high quality standards while remaining cost-effective. The crumb needed to be optimized for each product’s storage conditions, which can range from weeks of freezing temperatures in retail packages to hours under hot heat lamps in restaurants. They also needed to be optimized so that quality and crispy texture are always consistent when consumers prepare the products at home, whether it is in the microwave or conventional oven. Finally, the coatings needed to appeal to consumers and deliver taste satisfaction every time.

Pulses enhance the nutritional value of coated products because they are high in protein and fibre. Pulse ingredients are well-suited to be used in coatings because they have high water absorption and thickening effects that allow them to stick well to the product. Finally, pulses also are not a recognized allergen in North America; a feature that’s important to Griffith.

The 2014 project led to the successful launch of Griffith Laboratories’ Creative Coaters product line. Creative Coaters now includes four coatings made from pulses that can be sold in both the gluten-free and regular market. Griffith expects that consumers will see the pulse-based coatings of Creative Coaters on grocery shelves by January 2016.

This project is a great example of how a research partnership with a food manufacturer can lead to successful commercialization of pulse-based foods. Partnerships like the one with Griffith provide greater potential to increase the use of pulse ingredients and support the ultimate goal of increasing pulse consumption.

Griffith Laboratories was founded in 1919 with a vision of bringing the scientific discipline to the food industry. With Superior Food Science as one of its key pillars, it continues to provide the industry with process and ingredient innovations – hundreds of which have been patented. Located in 18 countries around the globe, Griffith employs 2,800 people, exchanging expertise and best practices between research and development personnel, sensory scientists, culinary chefs and the marketing teams.