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All-Natural Phosphate Replacement

March 1, 2016 Prepared By Jon

Innovation thrives when you find the intersection of a market need and a solution for that need. In some instances, the process is organic and comes through inspiration. More common is the situation where a need is uncovered and then extensive research is conducted to discover the solution. When this is the case, a commitment to the process of true R&D is required.

We’re very proud here at Asenzya to have fully committed to this process with our extremely talented group of R&D scientists. Those in our labs diligently work to identify unique needs in the food industry and find solutions that are both economically and operationally sustainable. We’re blessed that each of our food scientists have unique specialties and areas of interest within the food arena, and they use their backgrounds as the jumping off point for potential areas of research and development.

To illustrate the process, let’s take a look at a new product of ours. As Asenzya’s meat specialist, Jon Falk worked to develop BindEASE® for the protein industry.


The idea for BindEASE came from our customers. When asked what they would like to be made available, a majority of them replied, “An all natural phosphate replacer.” Having come from the meat industry and knowing how functional sodium phosphate is, I knew this was no small request. Their feedback provided the first important bit of information. It defined the need.

The Starting Point

I started this project by looking at what I had used in the past, evaluating why I used or did not use these ingredients, and how successful each was. I also deciphered what ingredients would be considered acceptable for an all-natural USDA claim. This eliminated a great number of the potential ingredients. At the same time, I considered what each phosphate does as far as moisture retention and along which pathways. I decided to follow a path using ingredients that bind or trap moisture, such as starches and fibers.

The Protocols

Next, I established a protocol for evaluating each ingredient, first on water, then in a protein. I decided on a comparative evaluation of the test products versus a positive control using sodium phosphate and a negative control with no phosphates or other binders.

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The Research

    • Starches

Early testing confirmed that native starches worked well for binding water, but at useful levels, I noticed a dulling of flavors and an increase in negative texture comments. The three starches that I had the greatest success with were native potato, rice and tapioca. As testing progressed, I felt very confident that all three could work but in choosing a “standard” I went with the tapioca starch.

    • Fibers

Certain fibers worked well, too. But when using high insoluble fibers, the negative texture comments ranged from “cardboard” to “mushy” to “pasty.” Not at all how a whole muscle product should be described.

    • Ionic compounds

Meat science tells us that pH has an effect on water holding capacity. For buffering, I looked at a number of molecules, each with their own pros and cons. I decided to use sodium citrate since it was effective and had the fewest negative aspects.


I found that if I balanced my insoluble and soluble fibers sources along with a native starch, I could yield a far better result than the individual components and at much lower levels. Adding in a buffer and other ionic molecules added further to these benefits. I also found an interesting side benefit of adding in ionic compounds, which was an increase in ease of use. The product dispersed better and had few clumping problems. Trial and error proved which items were preferred and the amounts of each that I would use. Other factors in the balancing act were price, broad spectrum of use and ease of use.

The Results

If you’re comparing BindEASE to a product without sodium phosphate or binders, you can expect yield increases up 10 percent, with a very natural bite while still moist and flavorful. Against a product with sodium phosphate I would expect comparable yields without the rubbery texture that some people are sensitive to. BindEASE is very user-friendly. It can be injected, part of a marinade or even added dry. It does require some type of surface scoring or injection for whole muscle, and it is also good for chunk, formed and ground products.

Continuing to Add Value

After having an initial product that worked well, I started phase two which focused on minimizing the labeling impact. The original product had a starch, salt, sodium citrate and fibers from two sources (pea and citrus). With each of these ingredients listed separately, it created a fairly lengthy label. For this second version of BindEASE I found that I could replace the water trapping effect of the pea fiber by using a highly functional blend of citrus fibers. The key here was not resting after we found a solution. Continued research provided us with a better product that was more consistent with the market’s needs.

The Technology

If you are looking for an all-natural alternative for sodium phosphate, then BindEASE could be the right product for you! The important thing to remember is that it’s not so much a mixture of ingredients as the technology behind how those ingredients work together. Because of this, we can customize it to meet your needs and apply the technology of BindEASE to achieve optimal yield and performance for your ‘All Natural’, ‘Phosphate Free’, ‘Allergen Free’ protein products.

Interested in learning more about all of Asenzya’s product offerings? Reach out to us directly at email@asenzya.com for more information or take a look at our product capabilities page.

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