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Title:
PARTIAL SODIUM REPLACEMENT IN FOOD
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2016/131122
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A method for at least the partial reduction in salt (NaCI) in a prepared food product is described wherein a flavour enhancer is utilized in combination with a reduced amount of salt. The flavour enhancer comprises a mixed of a natural extract derived from a fungi, and preferably derived from white button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus), together with a food grade carrier and optionally a property enhancing additive. The flavour enhancer is thus used as a tool for replacement of between 10 and 70% w/w of the salt normally present in a prepared food product.

Inventors:
SINKOVITS, Andras (627 Lyons Lane, Suite 300Oakville, Ontario, L6J 5Z7, CA)
JOBLING, Peter Gordon (627 Lyons Lane, Suite 300Oakville, Ontario, L6J 5Z7, CA)
Application Number:
CA2015/000105
Publication Date:
August 25, 2016
Filing Date:
February 19, 2015
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
SINKOVITS, Andras (627 Lyons Lane, Suite 300Oakville, Ontario, L6J 5Z7, CA)
JOBLING, Peter Gordon (627 Lyons Lane, Suite 300Oakville, Ontario, L6J 5Z7, CA)
International Classes:
A23L1/28; A23L1/22; A23L1/237; A23L1/30
Domestic Patent References:
WO2013167749A12013-11-14
Other References:
HARRISON-DUNN, ANNIE-ROSE.: "Leatherhead's top 3 new products at FiE.", FOOD NAVIGATOR.COM, Retrieved from the Internet [retrieved on 20151008]
"Strategies for Reduced-Sodium Formulations", FOOD PRODUCT DESIGN, September 2013 (2013-09-01), pages 7 and 9, Retrieved from the Internet [retrieved on 20151008]
SCOTT-THOMAS, CAROLINE.: "Salt reduction beyond potassium chloride: Scelta touts mushrooms for low-salt bread.", FOOD NAVIGATOR.COM, 16 July 2013 (2013-07-16), Retrieved from the Internet [retrieved on 20151008]
GRAY, NATHAN.: "Plant extracts may act as low sodium salt replacer: Study.", FOOD NAVIGATOR.COM, 24 November 2010 (2010-11-24), Retrieved from the Internet [retrieved on 20151008]
"Umami salt reduction tools.", SCELTA MUSHROOMS, 25 November 2013 (2013-11-25), Retrieved from the Internet [retrieved on 20151014]
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GOWAN, Gerald A. (Ridout & Maybee LLP, 2000 Argentia RoadPlaza One, Suite 30, Mississauga Ontario L5N 1P7, CA)
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Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A flavour enhancer comprising a mixture of a natural extract derived from fungi, together with a food grade carrier, and optionally, a property enhancing additive, for use in food products, at levels of between 0.01 and 1 % w/w of the final food product.

2. A flavour enhancer as claimed in Claim 1 wherein said fungi is mycelia or mushrooms.

3. A flavour enhancer as claimed in Claim 1 wherein said fungi is an edible mushroom selected from the group consisting of white button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus), Agaricus Bitorquis, Agaricus campestris, Agaricus blazei, Agaricus arvensis, oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus), straw mushrooms ( Volvaria Volvcea), and Enokitake (Flammulina velutipes).

4. A flavour enhancer as claimed in Claim 1 wherein said fungi is a white button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus).

5. A flavour enhancer as claimed in Claim 1 wherein said flavour enhancer is used at levels of between 0.03 and 0.5% w/w.

6. A flavour enhancer as claimed in Claim 1 wherein said flavour enhancer is used at levels of between 0.05 and 0.3% w/w.

7. A flavour enhancer as claimed in Claim 1 wherein said flavour enhancer comprises between 5 and 60% w/w, of said natural extract, and between 40 to 95% w/w of said suitable food grade carrier.

8. A flavour enhancer as claimed in Claim 1 wherein said flavour enhancer comprises between 30 and 50% w/w, of said natural extract, and between 50 to 70% w/w of said suitable food grade carrier.

9. A flavour enhancer as claimed in Claim 1 wherein said flavour enhancer comprises between 30 and 50% w/w of a natural extract derived from the white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus), in combination with 50 to 70% w/w of a food grade carrier, wherein said food grade carrier is maltodextrine.

10. A flavour enhancer as claimed in Claim 1 additionally comprising up to 5% of a property enhancing additive.

11. A flavour enhancer as claimed in Claim 10 wherein said property enhancing additive is silica.

12. A prepared food product comprising a food product and between 0.01 and 1 % w/w of a flavour enhancer wherein the flavour enhancer comprises a mixture of a natural extract derived from fungi, and a suitable food grade carrier, and optionally other property enhancement additives.

13. A prepared food product as claimed in Claim 12 wherein said fungi is mycelia or mushrooms.

14. A prepared food product as claimed in Claim 12 wherein said fungi is an edible mushroom selected from the group consisting of white button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus), Agaricus Bitorquis, Agaricus campestris, Agaricus blazei, Agaricus arvensis, oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus), straw mushrooms ( Volvaria Volvcea), and Enokitake (Flammulina velutipes).

15. A prepared food product as claimed in Claim 12 wherein said fungi is a white button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus).

16. A prepared food product as claimed in Claim 12 wherein said flavour enhancer is used at levels of between 0.03 and 0.5% w/w.

17. A prepared food product as claimed in Claim 12 wherein said flavour enhancer is used at levels of between 0.05 and 0.1 % w/w.

18. A prepared food product as claimed in Claim 12 wherein said flavour enhancer comprises between 5 and 60% w/w, of said natural extract, and between 40 to 95% w/w of said suitable food grade carrier.

19. A prepared food product as claimed in Claim 12 wherein said flavour enhancer comprises between 30 and 50% w/w, of said natural extract, and between 50 to 70% w/w of said suitable food grade carrier.

20. A prepared food product as claimed in Claim 12 wherein said food product is selected from the list consisting of soups, broths, gravy, beef gravy, turkey gravy, chicken gravy, meats, prepared meats and deli meats.

21. A prepared food product as claimed in Claim 20 wherein said prepared meats are air dried meats.

22. A prepared food product as claimed in Claim 21 wherein said air dried meats are sopressata, pepperoni, salami, or prosciutto.

23. A prepared food product as claimed in Claim 20 wherein said deli meats are bologna, ham, or formed turkey breasts.

24. A prepared food product as claimed in Claim 20 wherein said sauces are tomato- based sauces.

25. A prepared food product as claimed in Claim 20 wherein said sauces are savoury sauces.

26. A prepared food product as claimed in Claim 25 wherein said savoury sauces are soy sauce, ranch-type dipping sauce, or chicken wing sauce.

27. A prepared food product as claimed in Claim 20 wherein said flavour enhancer is used as a tool for replacement of between 10 and 70% w/w of the salt normally present in said prepared food product.

28. A prepared food product as claimed in Claim 27 wherein said flavour enhancer is used as a tool for replacement of between 15 and 50% w/w of the salt normally present.

Description:
Partial Sodium Replacement in Food

Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to the field of food products and food additives, and in particular, relates to the application and use of a natural extract, preferably derived from the white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus), and which is used at low levels, in food products including soups, broths, gravy, sauces, meats, processed meats, and the like. For the purposes of this document, the low levels of natural extract are dissolved or dispersed in the matrix of food products.

Background of the Invention

Salt, or sodium chloride (NaCI), is widely used as a flavouring material, or as a flavour enhancer. To reduce the amount of salt used in a food product, other sodium based materials including monosodium glutamate (MSG) and the nucleotides disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate (l+G), are commonly used. However, there is a demand for alternatives to these approaches in order to reduce the amount of sodium used in food products.

In particular, with respect to the present invention, there is a demand for alternatives to the use of salt, and the like, in flavour systems that are applied or used as soups, broths, gravy (including beef, turkey, chicken, and the like), sauces, meats, prepared meats (including air dried meats such as sopressata, pepperoni, salami, prosciutto etc. and deli meats such as bologna, ham, formed turkey breasts etc.) and the like, in food products. Sauces can include tomato-based sauces including tomato paste, stewed tomatoes, or include tomato-based meat sauces, and the like. Sauces might also include savoury sauces such as soy, ranch-type dipping sauce, chicken wing sauce, or the like. In all of these products, salt (NaCI) is typically used to enhance the flavouring of the food product.

Much of the demand for salt-reduction stems from market pressure as consumers become more educated and demand that manufacturers reduce the amount of added salt. Much of this market pressure results from an increased awareness by the public of the nutritional content of their food, and increased awareness of the dangers of excessive salt levels. This public pressure results in increased pressure on food formulators to reduce, eliminate or ameliorate the dangers resulting from, the total sodium content of foods, and in particular, processed food products.

Consumers also increasingly demand food products which are perceived by them, or by the food industry as being "label-friendly", and preferably, include only materials which are considered to be "non-chemical" ingredients.

Thus, there is increasing pressure from government regulators, for both clean-label alternatives to salt or salt replacements, such as MSG and the like, as well providing a reduction in total sodium content. For example, legislation has been proposed in various countries including Canada, United Kingdom, Belgium, France, and Germany to reduce salt levels in food.

One key feature in driving this legislation is the expected improvement in overall health of the population as it relates to cardiovascular diseases and the costs to treat them, by the reduction of sodium intake. Reducing these costs would clearly be beneficial to the public.

In response, typical directives from governments to food processors has been to reduce the total sodium content in foods in order to reduce the average daily consumption of sodium per person, from greater than 3300 mg/day, in an industrialized country, to a recommended level of less than 2400 mg/day. Since almost 80% of the total sodium intake of consumers in North America, and presumably other first world nations, is from processed foods there is a significant need for a safe alternative to allow for a reduction in sodium in these food products.

Traditionally, the most common source of sodium found in food is provided by the addition of salt in the form of dissolved sodium chloride (NaCI). It is generally well known in the food art, that "dissolved sodium" imparts a "salty" flavour that consumers find palatable. As such, salt is commonly used in numerous food products. Technologies aimed at sodium reduction are typically limited to two basic approaches. First, alternate salts (other than NaCI) such as potassium chloride, calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, and the like, are used in an attempt to essentially replace sodium with other monovalent or divalent cations. However, there are several limitations to this approach with the primary, and most obvious limitation, being flavour perception.

It is known that these other salts can impart a metallic and bitter flavour that is undesirable, or can have a mouth drying effect. This lack of palatability therefore offers limited success when using this approach, and often requires the additional use of other masking agents and additional flavours in order to compensate. The use of this tactic for sodium reduction is described in, for example, US6541050, US4107346 and

US2010/303853.

A second hurdle, beyond the lack of palatability, is the potential for ion imbalance by use of this tactic. That is, the increased presence of these other cations can contribute to an ion imbalance in the vascular system and hence, contribute to cardiac disease and hypertension. Another inherent limitation to the substitution of sodium salts with other chloride salts, is that the number of other suitable cationic substitution materials becomes limited (whether mono- or divalent) due to a variety of factors such as toxicity (e.g., barium chloride) or even an effect on the central nervous system (e.g., lithium chloride).

As such, the above approach for salt reduction, is not without problems.

Another approach to the general strategy above has been to change the structure of the salt crystal, based on the idea that the perception of salt in the solid form is affected by crystal size and shape. Research has been carried out using various forms (e.g., flaked versus granular) as a method of reducing salt content in meat products. For example, the utilization of a matrix of aligned physical crystals of both NaCI and KCI can lead to increased perceived saltiness. Also, crystals built with hollow cores alter the surface area and dissolution rates on the tongue and can also provide increased perceived saltiness. These alternatives are described in, for example, US patent publication Nos. 2008/085360 and 201 1/098365.

While this approach has met with some success, the limitations of this technology still puts the primary emphasis on the partial substitution of sodium ion with another ion (as discussed above).

Another potential strategy for the reduction of sodium offers a better alternative by utilization of the fifth taste - umami. In this approach, it is understood that the presence of umami-enhancing compounds can lead to increased perceived saltiness. However, while the concept of umami has been well studied, its exact mechanism, as it relates to perceived saltiness in foods, remains somewhat elusive. To date, the solution using this approach has been for food formulators to add chemically isolated umami compounds to the food; - primarily in the form of monosodium glutamate (MSG) and disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate (l+G). However, while the addition of these chemicals provides a mechanism to reduce sodium content as a whole, this approach still contributes sodium back into the food system as both MSG and l+G are both sodium salts.

Also, the presence of MSG, l+G, and the like, has become undesirable from a consumer standpoint, in that there is a well-established perception from consumers that the presence of 'chemicals' (of which MSG and l+G qualify), is unsafe, undesirable, and as such, should be avoided. This presents food formulators with a complex problem as one potential means for reducing the level of consumed sodium, has become increasingly unviable from both an economic and from a consumer perspective.

An additional approach to the option of the addition of chemically isolated and synthetically produced MSG and l+G has been to turn to more 'natural' compounds that contain high amounts of either or both chemical. For example, the use of lysed yeast has been well established and contains varying amounts of small organic acids, peptides but most importantly MSG and l+G. Yeast extracts can contain in excess of 10% MSG and more than 20% nucleotides (in the form of inosine monophosphate and guanidine monophosphate). The use of yeast extracts however, though pertinent and effective as a tool for sodium reduction, only serves to add a less refined source of MSG and l+G, and hence sodium, to the food product.

In WO2013/167749, a further umami-based system is described wherein a homogeneous mixture of from 5 to 70 % w/w of one or more extracts from fungi, like from mycelia or mushrooms, is added to 10 to 80% w/w, of a metal chloride of calcium, magnesium, or mixtures thereof, together with a suitable carrier, in order to provide a salt replacement vehicle for baked goods, including bread. However, this is a simple mixture of materials for use in baked products at relatively high levels (typically at 1 %). At these levels, the metallic taste from the added calcium chloride particles would become unacceptable, unless the calcium ions were chemically bound, or otherwise masked in the food product.

To overcome these difficulties, it would therefore be advantageous to provide an alternative method for the reduction of salt levels in food, and in particular, in processed food products.

As will be described hereinbelow, the present invention utilizes an entirely unique and much more complex flavour-based strategy to increase the perceived saltiness of food while still being able to achieve sodium reductions of up to 25 to 50%, by weight, or more.

Thus, the salt-reduction strategy of the present invention provides a method for the reduction or replacement of salt (NaCI) in foods by acting both as: (i) a tool for the reduction of sodium content in food systems and, (ii) an alternative to the use of monosodium glutamate (MSG) and the nucleotides disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate (l+G).

Moreover, the present invention allows for the reduction of salt, and hence total sodium content, by manipulating the principles of umami while mimicking the salty flavour spike found with the use of a divalent chloride salt.

Summary of the Invention

The advantages set out hereinabove, as well as other objects and goals inherent thereto, are at least partially or fully provided by the salt-reduction strategy of the present invention, of the present invention, as set out herein below.

Accordingly, in one aspect, the present invention provides a flavour enhancer, which flavour enhancer is based on a umami flavour enhancement approach, and comprises a mixture of a natural extract, preferably derived from fungi, including mycelia or mushrooms, and more preferably from mushrooms, and in particular, from a white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus), which has been combined with a suitable food grade carrier, and optionally a property enhancing additive, which is used in a food product, as a partial salt replacement.

In the practise of the present invention, the flavour enhancer is used at levels of between 0.01 and 1% w/w based on the total weight of the food product, and more preferably, at levels of between 0.03 and 0.5% w/w. More preferably, the level of the flavour enhancer of the present invention which is used in a food product, is between 0.05 and 0.3% w/w.

The flavour enhancer of the present invention is intended for use without any additional metal chloride salts, as described in some prior art formulations, in order to avoid the difficulties of the use of these types of materials. This includes added metal salts such as various metal chlorides, including materials such as calcium chloride, magnesium chloride or potassium chloride. As such, in a preferred embodiment, the present invention provides a flavour enhancer with consists of, or consists essentially of, a mixture of a natural extract, preferably derived from fungi, including mycelia or mushrooms, and more preferably from mushrooms, and in particular, from a white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus), which has been combined with a suitable food grade carrier, and optionally a property enhancing additive, and which is used in a food product, as a partial salt replacement.

The flavour enhancer of the present invention preferably comprises between 5 and 60% w/w, more preferably from 20 and 55% w/w, and still more preferably, from 30 to 50% w/w, of the natural extract, and between 40 and 95 % w/w, more preferably from 45 and 80% w/w, and still more preferably, from 50 to 70% w/w, of a suitable food grade carrier.

In one preferred embodiment, the present invention provides a flavour enhancer which consists of between 5 and 60% w/w of a natural extract, derived from white button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus), which has been combined with between 40 and 80% w/w of a suitable food grade carrier.

While the natural extract of the flavour enhancer of the present invention can be based on a number of different natural extracts, the most preferred source of the natural extract material is from a fungi. This can include, for example, natural extracts from mycelia or from mushrooms. Most preferably however, the natural extract is derived from a mushroom, and in particular, derived from the white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus).

Extracts from other mushroom sources might also be used however, and these include other edible fungi known in the art, such as other edible agaricus species, including for example Agaricus Bitorquis, Agaricus campestris, Agaricus blazei, and Agaricus arvensis. Yet further suitable edible mushroom sources include oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus), straw mushrooms ( Volvaria Volvcea), and Enokitake {Flammulina velutipes).

A preferred source of the natural extract is from the blanching water, that is typically used to treat mushrooms. This blanching water is collected, and then thickened with, for example, reverse osmosis and/or evaporation. Preferably, the blanching water can also be subjected to microfiltration to remove larger particles.

Alternatively, the natural extracts of the mushrooms can also be prepared by cooking the fungi, and in particular, the mushrooms, or mushroom parts thereof. These parts can include the stems of the mushrooms. In this approach, the mushrooms can also be ground or pressed before cooking, and/or after cooking, and the solids removed from the cooking liquid via (micro)filtration and/or centrifugation. The resultant liquid phase can then be thickened by any suitable technique, and/or filtered, as required.

Further, the natural extracts can be used as hydrolyzed products which have been obtained from solutions of the fungi components. Hydrolyzation can be achieved with enzymatic treatment, heat treatment, chemical treatment and the like.

In the final product, the natural extract will be died to less than 10%, and more preferably, to less than 5% w/w of water, and thus, the natural extract component of the flavour enhancer will comprise more than 90%, and more preferably, more than 95% w/w of dry matter, with some residual water still being present.

The food grade carrier used in the present invention can be any of a variety of edible food products used to stabilize the natural extract. Suitable carriers include materials such as starch, or stabilizing additives including polymers or oligomers of carbohydrate nature like sacharides. Suitable examples include maltodextrine, with a polymerisation grade of less than 30, and more preferably less than 10. Suitable maltodextrines include DE6 maltodextrine, Maltrin M040, Maltrin M 100 and Maltrin M 150.

Other property enhancing additives can optionally be added, and these include stabilizing additives, such as silica, which can be added at levels of up to 5% w/w, of the flavour enhancer of the present invention. Other possible additives might also include colourants, flavour modifiers, or the like.

In a further aspect, the present invention therefore also provides a prepared food product comprising a food product and a flavour enhancer as described hereinabove, wherein the flavour enhancer comprises a mixture of a natural extract, preferably derived from the white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus), which has been combined with a suitable food grade carrier, and optionally other property enhancement additives.

In its most preferred embodiment, the prepared food products are foods such as soups, broths, gravy (including beef, turkey, chicken, and the like), sauces, meats, prepared meats (including air dried meats such as sopressata, pepperoni, salami, prosciutto etc.) and deli meats (such as bologna, ham, formed turkey breasts etc.) and the like. Sauces can include tomato-based sauces including tomato paste, stewed tomatoes, or include tomato- based meat sauces, and the like. Sauces might also include savoury sauces such as soy, ranch-type dipping sauce, chicken wing sauce, or the like.

In a most preferred embodiment, the amount of flavour enhancer of the present invention is used in any of these prepared food products, at levels of between 0.08 and 0.15% w/w of the total weight of the prepared food product. Under current government regulations, these levels can frequently be labelled merely as a natural flavouring.

The flavour enhancer of the present invention is intended to be used in combination with some salt (NaCI). As such, the flavour enhancer of the present invention can be added to the salt component to be added to the food product. Accordingly, in a further aspect, a reduced-salt flavour enhancer composition in accordance with the present invention is provided, which comprises 70 to 95% w/w salt (NaCI) and between 5 and 30% of the flavour enhancer of the present invention. More preferably, the present invention provides a reduced-salt flavour enhancer composition which comprises 75 to 85% w/w salt (NaCI) and between 15 and 25% w/w of the flavour enhancer of the present invention.

Compared to systems using salt only, through the use of the flavour enhancer of the present invention, the level of salt used can be significantly reduced. As a result, the flavour enhancer of the present invention acts as a tool for replacement of between 5 and 90% w/w of the salt normally present, and more preferably, as a tool for replacement of between 10 and 70% w/w of the salt normally present, and still more preferably, as a tool for replacement of between 15 and 50% w/w of the salt normally present.

The flavour enhancer of the present invention therefore contributes a reduced amount of sodium to the finished food product, while avoiding use of other materials such other metal chloride salts, and other sodium-containing materials including MSG and l+G, or the like.

Detailed Description of the Invention

The natural extracts and materials used in the practise of the present invention, are preferably as hereinabove described.

In a further aspect, the present invention also provides methods for the preparation of a flavour enhancer. In a preferred approach, the method for the preparation of a flavour enhancer of the present invention comprises:

providing an aqueous solution of:

- between 5 and 60% w/w of one or more natural extracts from fungi, like from mycelia or mushrooms;

- 40 to 95% w/w of one or more food grade carriers; and

- optionally, up to 5% of other property enhancing additives; and drying the aqueous solution to less than 5% moisture, and preferably, to less than 2.5% moisture.

Preferably, the aqueous solution is spray dried, to produce substantially

homogeneous granules of the flavour enhancer.

The phrase "substantially homogeneous granules" with respect to the particles is to be understood that each particle may comprise (micro)domains of individual components, yet, each particle will comprise all the components in the mixture.

The term "solution" is to be understood that particles less than 1 micrometer, preferably less than 0.1 micrometer may be present. Hence, a stable emulsion or dispersion is considered a solution in the present invention.

Alternatively, dried natural extract powder can be simply be mechanically mixed with the dried food grade carrier, and optionally, any other property enhancing additives to produce powdered granules of the flavour enhancer. However, the production of substantially homogeneous granules is preferred.

In either case, the resulting dried materials may be sieved to remove large conglomerates or the like, or to separate the material into various size gradients that might be used on different products. Typically, the resulting dried material will in general be between 5 and 500 μπι, and more preferably, between 10 and 300 μιτι. Most preferably, the resultant dried material has a size of between 15 and 100 μιη, although some smaller or larger particles might also be present.

In use, the flavour enhancer of the present invention, or a prepared reduced-salt flavour enhancer, as a dried material, can be simply mixed into the food product.

Alternatively, an aqueous solution or dispersion of the flavour enhancer, or the prepared reduced-salt flavour enhancer, can be prepared and mixed into the food product being prepared.

Further, a dispersion or solution of the flavour enhancer of the present invention can also be prepared using any suitable edible oil or fat material. These oil or fat materials can include edible oils such as corn oil, canola oil, soybean oil, olive oil, or fats such as lard, or solid oils including coconut oils or palm oil, which would need to be heated prior to use. Again, this mixture can be mixed into the food product being prepared.

Other application methods are also possible. Regardless of the application method, however, use of the flavour enhancer of the preset invention provides a method for at least the partial replacement of salt, and its sodium ion content, in food, and in particular, on processed food products. The flavour enhancer of the present invention is also not a concentrated or naturally derived source of either monosodium glutamate (MSG) or inosinate/guanylate based nucleotides (l+G), and thus, the addition of sodium ion through these materials is avoided. As such, the combination of providing a low salt content in a flavour enhancer, and the fact that the present invention does not contribute a significant amount of MSG and/or l+G, makes the invention a novel means by which to satisfy a large gap in the global food industry.

While the claimed materials can be used in a wide variety of foods, it is preferred that the material be used in mid-neutral pH systems. It has been discovered that at low pH values (e.g., those found in ketchup at pH 2.5 or less) there is less of an effect.

The invention also exhibits heat stability and is therefore applicable in industrial applications requiring cooking, heat treatment, Pasteurization, and heat-filling applications.

It should also be noted that the level of salt flavour enhancement from the flavour enhancer of the present invention is larger than might be predicted. For example, the natural extract prepared from the mushrooms of the species Agaricus bisporus was analyzed and found to have an MSG concentration of 2.3% in the extract. Furthermore, mushrooms are known to contain the nucleotide guanidine monophosphate (GMP) and the concentration of this umami-enhancing compound was determined to be 0.0709% in the natural extract.

The quantification of the taste-enhancing effects of MSG and guanosine-5- monophosphate (GMP) was first characterized by Yamaguchi et al. (Yamaguchi, S., Yoshikawa, T., Ikeda, S., Ninomiya, J. (1971 ) "Measurement of the relative taste intensity of some L-a-amino acids and 5'-nucleotides", Journal of Food Science. Vol. 36(6), pp.

846-849). Using these values, the taste enhancing effect of the natural extract was calculated as follows:

Taste enhancing effect "y" = u + 1.200u(2.3v).

where u=[MSG], and v=[GMP]

Thus, y = 2.24% + 1.200 x 2.24%(2.3 x 0.0709%)

y = 6.6 From this it was expected that the effect of the natural extract of the present invention would be an enhanced salty flavour of approximately 6.6 times the effect of MSG/GMP alone.

However, empirical evidence from taste panels contradicted the theoretical value calculated above. In fact, much greater enhancment levels of up to greater than 20 times the effect of MSG and GMP alone, was reported by the taste panel.

Thus, the flavour enhancing effect of the present approach is larger than predicted.

This indicates that an enhanced umami effect is provided by the flavour enhancer of the present invention which may assist in providing an increased perception of saltiness. Thus, it was unexpected that the flavour enhancer of the present invention would provide utility at the application levels described herein.

However, it is not our intention to fully elucidate the mechanism by which this effect may occur, but rather, to propose the extract as a novel solution in applications where an alternative has not previously existed.

Examples

The novel features which are believed to be characteristic of the present invention, as to its structure, organization, use and method of operation, together with further objectives and advantages thereof, will be better understood from the following examples and discussion, in which a presently preferred embodiment of the invention will now be illustrated by way of example only.

It is expressly understood, however, that this discussion is for the purpose of demonstration and description only and are not intended as a definition of the limits of the invention.

Also, unless otherwise specifically noted, all of the features described herein may be combined with any of the above aspects, in any combination.

In one preferred approach, the flavour enhancer of the present invention is prepared according to the following technique.

Production waste from mushroom harvesting, which is essentially the stems of mechanically harvested mushrooms of the species Agaricus bisporus, are collected and any residual debris is washed. The remaining dry material is ground to paste, and blanched in water at 60 e C. The outlet liquid is pasteurized, centrifuged and concentrated to a concentration of 25 % solids by weight.

The concentrate is mixed with a food grade carrier, and this mixture is spray-dried in a conventional spraying drying tower. The food grade carrier used is a 5 DE maltodextrin. The resultant spray dried material was in the form of substantially homogeneous granules having the following composition:

Mushroom dried material 45%

Maltodextrin 55% The spray dried material was a light brown, hygroscopic powder which, in production, would be stored in a polyethylene bag prior to use. The material had a moisture content of less than 5% by weight. Typical particle size of the granulated material approximately 40 m. The material was slightly acidic, and had a pH of 4.6, when prepared as a 10% aqueous solution.

In one preferred approach to use, the powdered material is added to a food product, during production, while the amount of added salt is reduced. The resultant food product has a reduced level of sodium, while providing acceptable taste.

Thus, it is apparent that there has been provided, in accordance with the present invention, a flavour enhancer, which fully satisfies the goals, objects, and advantages set forth hereinbefore. Therefore, having described specific embodiments of the present invention, it will be understood that alternatives, modifications and variations thereof may be suggested to those skilled in the art, and that it is intended that the present specification embrace all such alternatives, modifications and variations as fall within the scope of the appended claims.

Additionally, for clarity and unless otherwise stated, the word "comprise" and variations of the word such as "comprising" and "comprises", when used in the description and claims of the present specification, is not intended to exclude other additives, components, integers or steps. Further, the invention illustratively disclosed herein suitably may be practised in the absence of any element which is not specifically disclosed herein.

Moreover, words such as "substantially" or "essentially", when used with an adjective or adverb is intended to enhance the scope of the particular characteristic; e.g., substantially planar is intended to mean planar, nearly planar and/or exhibiting

characteristics associated with a planar element.

Further, use of the terms "he", "him", or "his", is not intended to be specifically directed to persons of the masculine gender, and could easily be read as "she", "her", or "hers", respectively.

Also, while this discussion has addressed prior art known to the inventor, it is not an admission that all art discussed is citable against the present application.