Winning Choices in Shortenings

by Laurie Gorton
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Americans have turned into fat watchers again. This time, they’re on the outlook for saturated fats. Yet the drive to replace the functionality of hydrogenated fats — and get rid of trans fats formed by hydrogenation — often led shortening manufacturers to select palm oil, which carries higher proportions of saturated fats than other vegetable oils.

Also, as suppliers worked to develop trans-free shortenings, results were often tailored to specific applications. One worked best in cookie cremes, another in the basecakes. A separate style was needed for muffins, another for cakes, and so forth. Most bakers, however, prefer all-purpose shortenings and don’t want to stock multiple fats and oils.

GOING LOW.

Because palm oil offers the highest solid-fat profile among vegetable oils, Loders Croklaan
North America, Channahon, IL, adopted it as the company’s go-to replacement for hydrogenated fats. Recognizing public attitudes toward saturated fats, however, the company took a very-low-saturates approach when it developed SansTrans VLS-30 and SansTrans VLS-40.

Both shortenings contain a fat-sparing emulsifier package that allows up to 15% fat reduction in applications that currently call for an all-purpose shortening. Saturated fat is reduced up to 30%, and fat content plus calories from fat is cut by 15% when substituting SansTrans VLS shortenings for conventional all-purpose shortenings.

The products’ modest fat reductions do not alter the taste and texture of finished products.

Work on these shortenings began more than two years ago, according to Harold Kaiser, applications and technical services manager, Loders Croklaan North America. “We wanted to develop a product to match the functionality of standard shortening but with an enhanced nutritional profile,” he said.

Cutting saturated fat content and eliminating trans fats and other hydrogenated materials represented one set of goals for the development team. Another was to produce a shortening comparable in cost to conventional materials so bakers could save on annual shortening expenses without compromising performance.

COST-EFFECTIVE WINNER.

The two all-purpose shortenings earned Loders Croklaan an IFT Food Expo Innovation Award at this year’s meeting in New Orleans, LA. A panel of nine jurors from industry and academia with broad expertise in research and product development, processing and packaging technology, and food safety selected four companies and their innovations as winners from 53 qualified entries.

One judge observed, “This particular innovation provides support to the food industry as well as addresses the most vulnerable consumer, along with those who are most likely to indulge in baked items. This ingredient allows consumers some permissibility, while addressing the trans fat issue as well as the reduction in fat in the formulations by as much as 15%.”

Gerald McNeill, PhD, vice-president of R&D and marketing for Loders Croklaan North America, received the award on behalf of the company from IFT incoming president Roger Clemens and IFT president-elect John Ruff at the meeting’s opening keynote session.

Use of these new trans-free, nonhydrogenated shortenings improves baked foods’ nutritional profiles by reducing total fat, saturated fat and total calories from fat — all key requirements for selling into the educational, food service and in-store markets.

“Feedback from bakers has been very positive,” Mr. Kaiser said. “They can use it in a broad range of applications, from cookies to muffins to cakes and more.”

Bakers reap savings by reducing the number of ingredients to be batched and, thus, the size of their ingredient inventories. “For example, the SansTrans VLS shortenings contain some emulsifiers,” Mr. Kaiser said. “This is also an ease-of-use issue.”

Loders Croklaan makes available additional information about SansTrans VLS-30 and SansTrans VLS-40 as well as a number of technical reports about fats and oils, at www.croklaan.com.
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