As bakers explore alternatives to PHOs, they have learned a number of lessons. There’s more to this matter than replacing a solid fat with an oil.

“Baked goods formulas are complex and rely on the fat to provide structure, which affects the eating characteristics and texture of the products,” said Jackie Steffey, product development scientist, AarhusKarlshamn USA, Inc. “Even though product designers are hoping for a drop-in solution, this is not always the case. While using trait-enhanced oil may help improve shelf life — providing more resistance to antioxidation — the entire formula will still need to be optimized to deliver on the desired shelf life.”

What other changes are involved? Ms. Steffey noted that with some trans-free alternatives, mixing time may decrease, while other solutions may not be as temperature-tolerant. There may also be a need for a bake-stable texturant.

Don’t just consider the oleic content, cautioned Marie Wright, vice-president and chief global flavorist, ADM Wild Flavors & Specialty Ingredients, but compare it with saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acid content. “Depending on ultimate needs and goals of the application, other fatty acids than oleic might dictate which of the high stability oils is the best option,” she said.

Bob Johnson, director of R&D, Bunge Oils, recommended, “When focusing on the stability of a trait-enhanced oil, having a high level of oleic acid is not as important as having low levels of linoleic and linolenic because these unsaturated fatty acids are the primary sites for oxidation.”

Additionally, the oil stability index (OSI) just begins to tell the story of the functionality of high-stability liquid oils, according to Richard Galloway, president, Galloway & Associates, and a consultant for Qualisoy. “Frying, baking, cooking and shelf life tests, along with sensory evaluations of the food products, are necessary to tell the full story,” he said.