Clean Label Bakery Challenges and Solutions


Contributing Experts: Jim Lincoln, Bakery Specialist; Stephanie Pintoy, Expert Food Scientist with focus in bakery.



Clean label is an extremely important focus for many bakery companies. We spoke with a couple bakery science experts to learn more about the common challenges and solutions with clean label bakery scale-up in the industrial and large foodservice category.


Every formula is unique, and changes often need to be made when scaling up or switching to another plant: ingredients & process. Grasp of underlying science critical to addressing effects of fats, mixing, and more. ~ Jim Lincoln


Sugar and Bakery

Over the past century, the evolution of processed sugar has greatly impacted the food and beverage industry, especially baking. Here is a general progressive timeline overview of sweeteners [1917 – 2017]:



holistic bakery Clean label trends

When a bakery item gets reformulated to be clean label, here are some common challenges:

  • Cake: texture (granulation, cell structure)
  • Yeast-raised: fermentable solids
  • General: Water activity
  • Replacing HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) –  has some very unique properties, making it extremely difficult to find a 1:1 alternative.
  • Replacing caramel colors in bakery – depending on the amount used and the end color achieved, synthetic caramel colors are challenging to replace.


Clean label ingredient restrictions and obstacles will force the bakery category to find creative solutions — many suppliers have already been working on this for quite some time. ~Stephanie Pintoy


Non-nutritive sweeteners aren’t used as much because trend insights are show that many consumers would prefer to see natural sweeteners on the label i.e. “cane sugar” opposed to “aspartame”. Non-nutritive sweeteners also impact:

  • Cost
  • Water Activity
  • Gastro-intestinal effect
  • Granulation
  • Cell Structure


The trend data demonstrating consumer desire for simple, authentic ingredients appears to be moving in cane sugar’s benefit in this category. ~ Jim Lincoln





bakery preservatives Overview [1917 – 2017]

Preservatives in baking commonly need a multiple-part strategy to achieve desired functionality without affecting flavor or texture.



Antimicrobials: Antimicrobials agents are added to foods to destroy bacteria or inhibit the growth of mold on food.

  • Sorbates: Compounds based on sorbic acid. Sorbates are effective against yeasts and molds. Since sorbates can inhibit yeast fermentation, sorbates are applied to bakery products by encapsulation, spraying onto the product as an aerosol or incorporating it into the packaging material.
  • Benzoates: compounds based on benzoic acid. Benzoates are inhibitory to yeast and most commonly used to delay spoilage of high acid fillings, fruits and jams.
  • Propionates (Ca, Na): compounds of propionic acid. Due to their lack of activity against yeast, propionates are the most widely used antimicrobial in yeast-raised baked goods.


Antioxidants: Help to prevent food spoilage by slowing down the reaction of food with oxygen in the atmosphere.


When formulating or reformulating a bakery product, it’s very important to be mindful of:

  • Target market
  • Cost
  • Shelf life goals




Clean label alternatives: ingredients and processing

There are several natural ingredients and processing techniques that can help bakery companies achieve a clean label with appropriate shelflife:


  • Cultured wheat / whey: can cause off flavors
  • Enzymes: reduce retrogradation of amylopectin starch – can cause texture issues
  • Fruit juices / purees:  pH, natural source of propionates
  • Water activity:    sugar, salt, glycerin (<0.83)
  • pH: impact on flavor
  • New technology: yeast based

Processing Techniques:

  • Clean Rooms and negative air flow
  • UV light exposure- time related; impacts surface microbes
  • MAP (Modified Atmosphere Packaging) – gas flushing (can cause off flavors)


  • Metalized film

Serving / Distribution:

  • Frozen: thaw & serve.   ~5 day shelflife once thawed.


Contributing Expert Bios

Stephanie Pintoy has a BS and MS in Food Science from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Pintoy has 20+ years in the food industry working for companies such as Bunge Oil, Keebler/Kelloggs, Unilever and now Product Dynamics — and has been the Development Director at Product Dynamics since 2013.

Jim Lincoln has been working in the industrial bakery space for 30 years. Lincoln has veteran experience in all facets of bakery, and is a nationally recognized as an expert in bakery development, scale-up, commercialization, and optimization — with a special niche focus in bakery shelflife.


Additional articles We Think You’ll dig

Welcome to 2017: Clean Label Beverage Sweetener Landscape

Natural and Organic Boom Impacting Clean Label