Australian Functional Ingredients Pty Ltd

Herbal-Active® now approved for organics

You might observe that I don’t use the word preservatives or even natural preservative when talking about Herbal-Active® because it generally refers to synthetic chemical agents for shelf life extension. While Herbal-Active® achieves the same result, considering it as a natural antimicrobial also provides insights into the main method of application ie as an ingredient sanitizer.

However, two Australian organic certification bodies, Australian Certified Organic and The Organic Food Chain Pty Ltd have certified food and cosmetic products which use Herbal-Active® for its shelf life extension capability and a replacement for benzoates, sorbates and parabens,

While organic food is still a small market in Australia, Woolworths’ recent move to acquire Macro Health Food stores and re-positioning of the stores under their Thomas Dux brand is a sign of a move from organic niche to more mainstream.

Herbal-Active® is slowly growing in use and in trial with applications in a wide range of foodstuffs. Happily, we also get many testimonials from companies grateful for a cost-effective, natural solution to replace chemical preservatives. They have found that even if a slight production change is required such as a pre-mixing step; pre-dose and dilute or raw material dipping is introduced to drop the microbial loads to negligible levels, Herbal-Active® works in many applications.

These uses include the following:

  • stabilizing liquid flavors such as stevia, aloe, and other herbal extracts (food and medicine)
  • extending the shelf life on hummus and therefore for vegetable dips, flavored spreads
  • extending shelf life of fresh produce from fruits, herbs and vegetables to meats, poultry and seafood and products made from them
  • purees and fruit salads made from dipped fruits
  • chocolate fillings; ganache and liquid centers
  • seasonings and rubs for meats
  • use in syrups and sauces
  • use in pasta fillings eg tortellini, ravioli etc
  • cold fill beverages made from concentrates
  • sausages made from dipped trim
  • cosmetics, hair and skin care products
  • cut flowers gain added shelf life in warmer climates

And more uses are arising every week.

These have not been without trials and tribulations. Many industries are inflexible or cannot accommodate an additional dipping stage or the nominal investment of a pre-mixing step.

Chlorine wash water dips, even for organic poultry for example (sic), are too cheap an alternative even when it is not overly effective. Have you ever smelt chicken just out of MA packaging? It is revolting. And still, 99% of packaged chicken has Salmonella and Campylobacter pre-loaded for your food poisoning experience – no extra charge. What a bonus! Not so with an Herbal-Active® rinse of skinless poultry. It ends up as freshly smelling as the day it was killed and stays that way for many weeks.

Change is rarely welcome and it is market demand that often drives real innovation.

Fortunately, as more products appear which use Herbal-Active®, more new companies appear willing to make the investment of time, effort or money to commit to a move to natural antimicrobial agents.

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Vic Cherikoff