- General Mills in patenting a flour milling process that can extend the refrigerated shelf life of raw dough by an additional 30 days, according to Baking Business. The conventional storage time for raw dough products is currently 90 days. The extra month would bump it up to 120 days.
- According to General Mills' patent, enzymes naturally present in wheat grain may cause spoilage. The General Mills’ patent involves milling wheat grains into three ash streams, then heat-treating one of them to deactivate its enzymes. The treated ash stream is then combined back with the other two to create a white flour.
- The white flour can be used to make raw dough for products such as biscuits, rolls or croissants. The shelf life for these goods will be longer, thanks to the deactivation of the enzymes.
Extending the shelf life of refrigerated raw dough from 90 days to 120 days may not seem like a significant improvement, but it can mean big money for the manufacturer and a happier consumer. Every extra day a shopper can keep a tube of crescent roles in their fridge without spoilage is a victory.
When it comes to raw dough, like that used to make General Mills' Pillsbury crescent rolls or biscuits, shelf life is important. It’s an item that is often grabbed at the market and tossed into the refrigerator to make at another time. The trouble comes when ‘later on’ arrives past the expiration date, and the product has to be tossed into the garbage. If a consumer compares two types of ready-made raw biscuits at the grocery store, a longer advertised shelf life could be enough to persuade them to buy one product over another.
This milling process could be applicable in a number of other raw dough products that use white flour. Everything from ready-made pizza dough to cookie dough could benefit from this advancement. General Mills makes a significant number of products with flour including pizza, pasta and a variety of snacks.
If General Mills’ patented milling process is widely adopted within the baking industry, it could be meaningful. Manufacturers could either pass along the extra 30 days of shelf life to consumers, or use it to store the finished product longer before shipping it out to stores. Either way, having a product that takes longer to spoil will be an advantage.
There are some potential flaws that General Mills and other manufacturers will need to be wary of. The first is if the deactivation of some enzymes affects the flavor, texture or appearance of the product. An extra month to store rolls is terrific, but not worth it if they pop out of the oven hard instead of flaky and light. The other possible issue is with the impact the deactivated enzymes could have on the nutritional levels. If both of these problems are avoided, General Mills could have found the next greatest thing since sliced bread.