Characterization and categorization of commercial confectionary gels through napping-ultra flash profile (UFP) and hierarchical clustering analysis

Frantz Lairy Obas, Soo Yeun Lee, Leonard C. Thomas, Shelly J. Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Abstract: The use of high-solid gels (HSGs) in the confectionary and dietary supplement industries is rapidly expanding, increasing the interest in studying the relationships across their composition, sensory characteristics, thermal behavior, and texture. Thus, the objectives of this study were to characterize HSG product categories based on sensory characteristics and analytical parameters, and correlate analytical parameters with sensory descriptors generated through napping-ultra flash profile (napping-UFP). In one 90-min session, 15 panelists performed two napping-UFP exercises, categorizing and describing 13 confectionary HSGs by their overall degree of similarity and by their texture. Multiple factor analysis and hierarchical clustering were conducted on the napping-UFP data. The products were also characterized by their moisture content, water activity (aw), thermal behavior, and texture profile. Principal component analysis and hierarchical clustering analysis were conducted on the analytical parameters; additionally, the analytical parameters were related to the sensory descriptors using Spearman's correlation. The panelists predominantly focused on texture to categorize the samples. The clustering of the samples across the napping-UFP exercises resulted in two categories—gelatin and nongelatin-containing products. Sensory descriptors generated by panelists during the napping-UFP were significantly correlated to the measured analytical parameters. The difference in texture between the two clusters, associated with the presence of a small (3 J/g) gelatin triple-helix structure as determined by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), was significant enough to be perceived by panelists. These findings indicate that modified starch and pectin, impart different sensory characteristics than gelatin and have important implications for developing new formulations for HSGs in which gelatin-like texture is desirable. Practical Application: Increased consumer demands for nonanimal-derived ingredients have fueled the food and pharmaceutical industries interest in both finding an economical replacement material for gelatin and gaining a deeper understanding of gelatin's textural and thermal properties. The results of this research have important implications for finding suitable ingredients to replace gelatin in high-solid confectionary gels, as well as enhancing the quality of current gelatin-containing HSGs. The triple-helix is a powerful structural element that determined the textural properties perceived by panelists in HSGs. Consequently, the search for a replacement material for gelatin should focus on identifying materials that impart similar properties as the triple-helix structure, helping to create products with gelatin-like texture. Additionally, these findings begin to provide a better understanding of the thermal behavior of gelatin for enhancing the functionality, stability, and product integrity of HSG systems throughout shipping, storage, and consumption. Additional research is underway to explore in detail the thermal behavior of gelatin in commercial and model gummy systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2655-2670
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of food science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science


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