Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
PARTIAL SODIUM REPLACEMENT IN TOPICAL FOOD APPLICATIONS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2016/131121
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A method for at least the partial reduction in salt (NaCI) applied as a topical flavouring in foods is described wherein a topical flavour enhancer is utilized in combination with a reduced amount of salt. The topical flavour enhancer comprises a mixed of a natural extract derived from a fungi, which has been combined with a metal chloride, wherein said metal is calcium, magnesium or potassium, or mixtures thereof, together with a food grade carrier or additive, for use in topical applications on food products.

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:
CA2015/000103
Publication Date:
August 25, 2016
Filing Date:
February 19, 2015
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
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
Foreign References:
CA2873252A12013-11-14
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GOWAN, Gerald, A. (Ridout & Maybee LLP, 2000 Argentia RoadPlaza One, Suite 30, Mississauga Ontario L5N 1P7, CA)
Download PDF:
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A topical flavour enhancer comprising a mixture of a natural extract derived from fungi, which has been combined with a metal chloride, wherein said metal is calcium, magnesium or potassium, or mixtures thereof, together with a food grade carrier, and optionally, a property enhancing additive, for use topical applications on food products.

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

3. A topical 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 topical flavour enhancer as claimed in Claim 1 wherein said fungi is a white button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus). 5. A topical flavour enhancer as claimed in Claim 1 wherein said metal is calcium.

6. A topical flavour enhancer as claimed in Claim 1 wherein said fungi is a white button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus), and said metal is calcium, and wherein said flavour enchancer comprises between 5 and 60% w/w, of said natural extract, between 5 and 50% w/w of calcium chloride, with the balance being a suitable food grade carrier and optionally, a property enhancing additive.

7. A topical flavour enhancer as claimed in Claim 6 comprising between 30 and 50% of said natural extract, and between 20 and 40% of said calcium chloride.

8. A topical flavour enhancer as claimed in Claim 3 wherein said natural extract is collected from water which has been used to blanch said mushrooms.

9. A topical flavour enhancer as claimed in Claim 1 wherein said food grade carrier is a food stabilizer.

10. A topical flavour enhancer as claimed in Claim 1 wherein said food grade carrier is maltodextrine, and is present at a level of between 10 and 35 % w/w. 11. A topical flavour enhancer as claimed in Claim 1 wherein said property enhancing additive is silica, and is present at a level of up to 5% w/w.

12. A method for the preparation of a topical flavour enhancer comprising:

(i) providing an aqueous solution of:

- between 10- 65% w/w of one or more natural extracts from fungi, like from mycelia or mushrooms;

- between 10 and 45% w/w of a chloride salt of a metal that is acceptable in food, chosen from calcium, magnesium, potassium, or mixtures thereof;

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

- optionally, up to 5% of other property enhancing additives; and

(ii) drying the aqueous solution to less than 2.5% moisture to produce substantially homogeneous granules of a topical flavour enhancer.

13. A method for the preparation of a topical flavour enhancer as claimed in Claim 12 wherein said aqueous solution is spray dried.

14. A reduced-salt flavour enhancer composition comprising salt (NaCI) and a topical flavour enhancer, wherein said topical flavour enhancer comprises a mixture of a natural extract derived from the white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus), in combination with calcium chloride, a suitable food grade carrier, and optionally, a property enhancing additive.

15. A reduced-salt flavour enhancer as claimed in Claim 14 wherein said topical coating comprises 70 to 95% w/w salt (NaCI) and between 5 and 30% of said topical flavour enhancer.

16. A food product, wherein said food product has a topical coating of a reduced-salt flavour enhancer composition wherein said composition comprises salt (NaCI) and a topical flavour enhancer, and wherein said topical flavour enhancer comprises a mixture of a natural extract derived from the white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus), in combination with calcium chloride, a suitable food grade carrier, and optionally, a property enhancing additive.

17. A food product as claimed in Claim 16 wherein said food product is a processed food product.

18. A food product as claimed in Claim 16 wherein the amount of topical flavour enhancer is between 0.01 and 0.9% w/w based on the total weight of the food product.

19. A food product as claimed in Claim 18 wherein the amount of topical flavour enhancer, based on the total weight of the food product, is between 0.03 and 0.3% w/w.

20. A food product as claimed in Claim 18 wherein the amount of topical flavour enhancer, based on the total weight of the food product, is between 0.05 and 0.09% w/w.

Description:
Partial Sodium Replacement in Topical Food Applications

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), which extract has been combined with calcium chloride and a suitable food grade carrier, and which is used for topical applications on food products. For the purposes of this document, "topical applications" typically involve seasonings or the like, that are not dissolved or dispersed in the matrix of the food, but instead, are applied to the surface of a food product, and thereafter typically intended to dissolve on the consumer's tongue during consumption, as a mechanism for flavour delivery or enhancement.

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 alternative to the existing technology (i.e., the use of salt, MSG and l+G as flavour enhancers) 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 topically to food products. These types of food products include potato chips, crackers, pretzels, and the like, wherein salt is typically applied to the surface of the food material.

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 5 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 seasonings is achieved by the addition of salt in the form of sodium chloride (NaCI). It is generally well known in the food art, that "dissolved sodium" (in non-seasoning applications) can not only impart a "salty" flavour that consumers find palatable, but can also assist in controlling microbial growth. As such, salt is commonly used in numerous food products.

In topical applications, however, water activity of the food is low so that there is no need for microbial control, and as such, the presence of salt in these applications, is typically only for taste perception.

Technologies aimed at sodium reduction in topical applications are 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. Practically, there are several limitations to this approach. The primary, and most obvious hurdle, is 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 to 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.

However, the use of masking agents and the like, is of greater difficulty in topical applications, since in a topical application, there is no dissolution of the salt crystal (e.g., the salt crystals are in their crystalline phase, whereas the masking agents are typically liquid- based flavour systems). Thus, use of this approach in topical applications can be difficult.

A second hurdle, beyond the lack of palatability, is the potential for ion imbalance by use of this tactic. Thus, while this tactic can achieve sodium reduction, it poses another problem. That is, the presence of other cations can eventually contribute to an ion imbalance in the vascular system and hence also 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 2011/098365.

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. 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 has been for food formulators to add chemically isolated umami compounds primarily in the form of monosodium glutamate (MSG) and disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate (l+G). The addition of these chemicals, while allowing for a mechanism to reduce sodium content as a whole, still contributes sodium back into the food system as they are both sodium salts.

Also, the presence of MSG 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 effectively reducing the level of consumed sodium, on a large scale, has become increasingly unviable from both an economic and from a consumer perspective.

In WO2013/167749, a 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 at relatively high levels (1%), and is not intended as a topical flavour enhancer.

An extension to 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. To overcome these difficulties, it would therefore be advantageous to provide a further method for the reduction of salt levels in topical applications, 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 topical applications. Use of this strategy allows for a drastically lower risk of ion imbalance 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 topical applications in food systems and, (ii) an alternative to the use of monosodium glutamate (MSG) and the nucleotides disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate (l+G) in topical applications, in food.

The present invention therefore allows for the reduction of salt, and hence total sodium content, in topical applications, by manipulating the principles of umami while mimicking the salty flavour spike found with the use of 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-substitution strategy of the present invention, of the present invention, as set out herein below.

Accordingly, in one aspect, the present invention provides a topical flavour enhancer based on a umami flavour enhancement approach, comprising 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 metal chloride, and preferably calcium chloride, and a suitable food grade carrier, and which is used in topical applications on food products.

The topical flavour enhancer of the present invention therefore typically 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, as dry matter, of the natural extract, and between 5 and 50 % w/w, more preferably from 10 and 45% w/w, and still more preferably, from 20 to 40% w/w, of metal chloride, with the balance being a suitable food grade carrier or other additive.

In one preferred embodiment, the present invention provides a flavour enhancer which comprises between 30 and 50% w/w of a natural extract, on a dried basis, derived from white button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus), which has been combined with between 20 and 40% w/w of calcium chloride, and a suitable food grade carrier or additive.

While the natural extract of the topical 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 finished 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 metal salt used in the practise of the present invention, can be any chloride salt of a metal acceptable in food, wherein the metal is preferably chosen from calcium, magnesium, potassium and mixtures thereof. Suitable examples of salts include calcium chloride (CaCI 2 ), magnesium chloride (MgCI 2 ), potassium chloride (KCI), and the like. However, calcium chloride is most preferred, in particular, because it is a readily available, low cost material, which can be handled well in the process of making substantial homogeneous particles which are preferred in the present topical applications.

Furthermore, the remaining sodium chloride in the finished food product (as discussed hereinbelow), together with the natural extract of fungi, will substantially mask any unpleasant taste from the calcium ions.

The metal salts are preferably food grade, but do not have to be of high purity. Hence, the salts may contain trace amounts of other metal ions provided they are acceptable for food applications. Further, the salt may also comprise trace amounts of other ions, including for example, sulphate ions, or the like.

The topical flavour enhancer of the present invention is preferably provided in the form of substantially homogeneous particles. The natural extract material may however tend to be sticky and/or to be hygroscopic, and as such, it is preferably to provide a suitable food grade carrier in combination with the natural extract, and the metal chloride salt.

Other optional additives can also be included to stabilize or otherwise enhance the properties of the flavour enhancer.

In a preferred embodiment, the topical flavour enhancer of the present invention consists of, or consists essentially of, between 20 and 50% w/w, as dry matter, of the natural extract, and between 10 and 40 % w/w of metal chloride, with the balance being a suitable food grade carrier, and optionally up to 5% of other property enhancement additives.

In a further aspect, the present invention therefore also provides a food product wherein the food product has a topical coating of salt (NaCI) 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 calcium chloride, and a suitable food grade carrier, and other property enhancement additives.

In its most preferred embodiment, the food product is a processed food product.

Typical examples of these food products can include potato chips, crackers, fried foods, fried potato (fries), pretzels, and any other foods where MSG, or l+G, or other flavour enhancers, or in particular, salt (NaCI), is currently used as a topical seasoning or flavour. In the practice of the present invention, the natural extract-based formulation is preferably used at dosages of between 0.01% w/w and less than 0.9% w/w, more preferably at levels between 0.02 and 0.7 % w/w, and still more preferably at levels of between 0.03 and 0.3% w/w, based on the total weight of the food product.

Further, in a further preferred embodiment, the amount of natural extract-based formulation is preferably between 0.05 and 0.09% w/w, with a most preferred level being 0.07% w/w. Under current government regulations, this most preferred level can typically be labelled as a natural flavouring.

The topical flavour enhancer of the present invention is intended to be used in combination with some salt (NaCI). Accordingly, in a further aspect, a reduced-salt topical 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 topical flavour enhancer of the present invention.

More preferably, the present invention also provides a reduced-salt topical flavour enhancer composition which comprises 75 to 85% w/w salt (NaCI) and between 15 and 25% w/w of the topical flavour enhancer of the present invention.

Compared to systems using salt only, the level of reduced-salt topical flavour enhancer composition can be significantly reduced, which allows for a greater reduction in added salt (NaCI). As a result, the reduced-salt topical flavour enhancer composition of the present invention acts as a tool for replacement of between 10 and 99% w/w of the salt normally present, and more preferably, as a tool for replacement of between 15 and 80% w/w of the salt normally present, and still more preferably, as a tool for replacement of between 20 and 70% w/w of the salt normally present.

The topical 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 as MSG and l+G, or the like.

Detailed Description of the Invention

The natural extracts and metal salts used in the present invention are preferably as hereinabove described.

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 and/or metal salt chosen. 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, more preferably less than 10. Suitable maltodextrines include DE6 maltodextrine, Maltrin M040, altrin M 100 and Maltrin M 150.

These carriers can be used at any suitable level, but most preferably, are used at levels of between 1 and 40% w/w of the topical flavour enhancer, and more preferably at levels of between 10 and 35% w/w.

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

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

providing an aqueous solution of:

- between 10- 65% w/w of one or more natural extracts from fungi, like from mycelia or mushrooms;

- between 10 and 45% w/w of a chloride salt of a metal that is acceptable in food, chosen from calcium, magnesium, potassium, or mixtures thereof;

- 1 to 40% 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 2.5% moisture.

Preferably, the aqueous solution is spray dried, to produce substantially homogeneous granules of a topical flavour enhancer.

The term "substantial homogeneous" 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 dry metal chloride salt, the dried food grade carrier, and optionally, any other property enhancing additives to produce powdered granules of the topical flavour enhancer.

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 μηι. Most preferably, the resultant dried material has a size of between 15 and 100 μιτι, although some smaller or larger particles might also be present.

In use, the topical flavour enhancer of the present invention can be mixed with salt (NaCI) to produce a powdered reduced-salt topical flavour enhancer composition. This composition can be dispersed over the top of the food product, at the desired level. In a typical application, the food product can be heated slightly (e.g. 150 s C) so as liquify surface oils and fats on the foot product. The reduced-salt topical flavour enhancer composition can adhere to these liquified fats and oils.

Further, an aqueous solution of the topical flavour enhancer of the present invention, can be used to prepare an aqueous solution that can be sprayed onto the surface of a food product. When applied this way, the dried aqueous solution provides a thin topical coating on the food product.

Further, a dispersion or solution of the topical flavour enhancer of the present invention can also be prepared using any suitable edible oil or fat material. These 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.

By production of any of these formulations, a composition is prepared which can be applied to the surfaces of a food product, and thus provide a topical food enhancer.

Regardless of the application method, however, use of the topical flavour enhancer of the preset invention provides a method for at least the partial replacement of salt, and its sodium ion content, in topical applications on food, and typically on processed food products. The topical 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 topical 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.

It should also be noted that the level of salt flavour enhancement from the topical 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 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 enhancement 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 topical 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 S C. The outlet liquid is pasteurized, centrifuged and concentrated to a concentration of 25 % solids by weight.

The concentrate is mixed with calcium chloride, and a food grade carrier, and stabilizing additive, and this mixture is spray-dried in a conventional spraying drying tower. The food grade carrier used is a 5 DE maltodextrin, and silica is added as a property enhancing additive. The resultant spray dried material was a homogeneous powder having the following composition:

Mushroom dried material 39%

Maltodextrin 30%

Calcium Chloride 29%

Silica 2%

The resultant 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 μιτι. 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 applied to the surface of a heated processed food product, such as a potato chip, where it is held in place by adhering to the residual oils, or moisture in the uncooked, in the chip. The food product can then be cooled, to provide a food product having a topical coating of the reduced-salt flavour enhancer composition, of the present invention.

Thus, it is apparent that there has been provided, in accordance with the present invention, a topical 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.