Working to Make Zero-trans Oils Melt in the Mouth

by Theresa Cogswell
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Shortenings and oils provide many important functions in bakery and snack applications: texture, mouthfeel, flavor, sliceability and volume. For many years, hydrogenated products were the go-to ingredients for cost-effective, functional solutions. But rising concerns about trans fatty acids, and more recently saturated fats, have prompted an exodus from hydrogenation to zero-trans and trans-fat-free solutions.

Consumers view both saturated fats and trans fatty acids as unhealthy, according to the International Food Information Council’s 2008 Food & Health Survey. Ninety percent of respondents in this survey were aware of saturated fats, up three percentage points from 2007. Eighty percent of consumers viewed saturated fat as not healthful in 2008, and 79% thought that trans fats were not healthy. As consumer knowledge and insight on saturated and trans fat increased, 76% of consumers believed these fats to be connected with heart disease.

Add in the “fat tax” in places like New York City, and there is considerable motivation to develop new products that can provide the taste and textural benefits without the negative effect on public health. As well, there’s huge interest in eliminating the need to include the word “hydrogenated” in the ingredient listings on packaged foods.

Caravan Ingredients has developed a new emulsifier technology with exciting applications for zero-trans shortenings. The new line, sold under the Trancendim brand name, offers a variety of ways to make zero-trans products with significant reductions in saturated fat but without sacrificing mouthfeel or flavor release.

“As a fat-structuring agent, Trancendim transcends existing technology, creating a whole new rule book for shortening manufacture,” stated Larry Skogerson, PhD, vice-president, R&D, Caravan Ingredients, Lenexa, KS. “The intrinsic benefit of Trancendim over competitive palm-based products is the quick way that it structures [oils, shortenings and margarines],” he continued. “The crystallization rate of palm is slow, taking a long time to ‘set up,’ which can cause issues in applications such as popcorn or donut frying. Similarly, the crystallization of palm will continue in the finished product, which can impact shelf life.” The challenge comes in balancing the percentage reduction of saturated fatty acid with a high level of functionality at a reasonable cost.

For most bakery applications, Trancendim enables effective replacement of existing shortenings. But depending on the application, it can also be incorporated directly into foods by bakers and food manufacturers. Commercial opportunities for liquid shortenings and spray oils made with Trancendim include:

• Industrial fryer fats (donuts, honey buns, fruit pies, par-fried potato products, etc.)

• Dough fats for extruded, sheeted and wire-cut production (puff pastry, pie crusts, croissants, etc.)

• Coating fats (cereals, crackers, etc.)

• Microwave popcorn coating fat.

In recognition of this new technology’s functionality and health benefits, Trancendim won a 2010 IFT Food Expo Innovation Award during the group’s annual convention at Chicago, IL. A panel of nine jurors from industry and government with expertise in research and development, processing and packaging technology and food safety evaluated a variety of products and processing systems. Judging criteria included degree of innovation, technical advancement, benefits to food manufacturers and customers and scientific merit. Trancendim was selected as one of five award winners from 56 entries.

One juror wrote, with regard to Trancendim, “Replacing the functionality of the trans fat in baked foods continues to be a challenge. This product may be the solution that baked products need to become trans-fat-free.”

Caravan supports Trancendim with R&D and formulating resources, and its products are described at its Web site,
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