FLAVORWATCH prevents bacteria outgrowth in sports drinks

Botanical solution by Resorcix eliminates thermophilic acidophilic bacteria in pilot trial with Gat Foods.

FLAVORWATCH, a new botanical formula that eliminates thermophilic acidophilic bacteria (TAB) in clear, fruit-based soft drinks, has demonstrated its effectivity in sports beverages in a recent pilot trial. The solution to TAB spoilage, introduced by Resorcix and Israeli fruit-based beverage solutions manufacturer Gat Foods, was shown to work in multiple categories of fruit and non-fruit containing still energy drinks. Gat Foods will showcase FLAVORWATCH at SIAL in Paris, from 15-19 Oct 2022.

TAB are a group of nonpathogenic microbes belonging to the alicyclobacillus family. They are known to generate strong off-flavours and odours in still RTD beverages and evade pasteurisation. Moreover, all other microorganisms are eliminated during processing, leaving no competition to TAB outgrowth and the production of the phenolic compound, guaiacol. TAB outgrowth occurs soon after the bottling process and negatively impacts the beverages’ quality and organoleptic properties. This can lead to customer complaints and costly recalls.

Visually, TAB spoilage can be identified by a white sediment at the bottom of the bottle, or a hazy appearance. TAB-spoiled drinks can produce a flat, sour taste with a “medicinal,” “smoky,” or “antiseptic” off-flavour that renders the drink unacceptable for consumption.

Since the discovery of TAB in the 1980s following a spoilage outbreak in a commercial pasteurised apple juice brand, TAB spoilage was typically associated with clear fruit-based beverages. This led to the perception that the fruit component was the source of the alicyclobacillus contamination. However, later research on several beverage categories has confirmed that TAB can easily multiply in beverages that contain no fruit at all.

“Sugar, water, stabilisers, emulsifiers, and other ingredients turn out to be potential sources of TAB,” explained Lior Sinai, PhD, a microbiologist and CTO of Resorcix. “The good news is FLAVORWATCH botanical solution works just as efficiently in non-fruit-based beverages and is effective in all types of sports beverages.”

In a recent pilot trial, the team collected several brands of non-carbonated sports and energy beverages from retail shelves. Each product was inoculated with spores of four different Alicyclobacillus acidoterrestris strains to a concentration amounting to 1,500 CFU per litpre. Then, the beverages were divided into two batches. One batch served as the positive control batch, and the second was treated with FLAVORWATCH. Both batches were pasteurised at 95°C for 30 seconds and hot-filled into bottles. The FLAVORWATCH group demonstrated effective resistance against TAB spoilage during the entire 180-day trial. The control bottles showed signs of TAB multiplication after just seven days.

FLAVORWATCH, considered a natural flavouring by EFSA and the FDA, is based on a plant resin that kills alicyclobacillus germinating spores, thus protecting acidic beverages from TAB proliferation. This protection lasts throughout the product’s shelf life.

“Sports drinks and non-carbonated energy drinks are enjoying booming growth worldwide, based on their reputation as refreshing trendy beverages that can help support a healthy and active lifestyle,” noted Hila Bentman, marketing manager of Gat Foods. “From high-carb, high-mineral, concentrated isotonic beverages to nootropic, botanical-infused drinks that come in exotic flavours, this category of functional drinks is the subject of constant innovation to boost organoleptic and wellness qualities. However, TAB spoilage can markedly hinder their appeal and the consumer experience and damage the brand’s reputation. FLAVORWATCH dramatically reduces these risks and can help provide peace of mind to beverage manufacturers.”