Taking a different approach, oil chemists at P&G Food Ingredients converted the company’s Olean, a zero-calorie liquid oil, into a drop-in zero-trans, low-saturate, low-calorie replacement for full-fat, trans-free and partially hydrogenated vegetable shortenings.

With two-thirds of Americans now considered overweight or obese, consumers are bombarded by messages about the dangers of obesity and the role food plays in this health problem. “While there is growing interest in pursuing healthier lifestyles, it’s often difficult to sacrifice the pleasure of baked foods,” said Peter Y.T. Lin, PhD, principal scientist, P&G Food Ingredients, Cincinnati, OH. The new shortening creates foods that maintain the taste of their full-fat counterparts with a much lower fat content and calorie count.

The new shortening takes advantage of two breakthroughs in oil chemistry. First, Olean is a proprietary form of olestra, a liquid oil with a fat molecule too large to be digested. Second, Olean shortening uses as its hard fat Trancendim, an oil structuring agent developed by Caravan Ingredients, Lenexa, KS. The shortening contains no trans fats and far fewer saturated fats than other zero-trans bakery shortenings.

“Our bakery customers do not have to make significant recipe changes, saving development time and labor,” explained Donald Appleby, marketing manager, P&G Food Ingredients. One such customer, Busken Bakery in Cincinnati, OH, developed its Skinny Cookie with Olean shortening. Launched two years ago, the low-calorie cookie fueled a 36% surge in the bakery’s cookie business.