Going forward, the baker won’t be able to use hydrogenated oils — a.k.a. solid fats — to assist fat’s stability in baked foods. So, what are the practical alternatives? There's a big role for emulsifiers.

For example, in bread, 3% solid shortening will give the product a more uniform grain, slightly higher volume and slightly softer texture than the same formula made with 3% vegetable oil sans emulsifier. However, if the vegetable oil is reduced to 2% and 0.5% emulsifier is added, the bread quality equals bread made with 3% shortening. Thus, total fat, saturated fat and trans fat can all be cut back. An additional benefit for large bakeries is that oil can be more easily pumped than solid shortening.

In my work, cookie formulations have also yielded to replacement of solid shortenings with reduced levels of vegetable oil and increased emulsifiers.

Emulsifier suppliers are actively pursuing non-PHO emulsifiers. According to Jim Robertson, global product manager, Corbion Caravan, Lenexa, KS, “While developing one of our non-PHO hydrated monoglycerides, we were able improve the functionality by eliminating the PHO from the formula. This improved functionality results in a 15-to-20% reduction in usage rate without any sacrifice in the finished baked good quality.”

Cargill has a new premium lecithin product that comes in liquid form or as a de-oiled powder. It is designed to replace mono- and diglycerides and DATEM in bakery production. The replacement rate is 1:1 for DATEM. To replace 10 lb of hydrated mono- and diglycerides, the baker can use 6.5 lb de-oiled lecithin and 4 lb water.