WASHINGTON — The American Chemical Society (A.C.S.), along with funding from PepsiCo, Inc., Purchase, N.Y., and the Australian Research Council Linkage Program, has published research in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry about a method that can be used to formulate a tastier low-fat potato chip. While consumers may want a snack that’s lower in fat, the reduction in vegetable oil also reduces the traditional crunch and mouthfeel of the chip, making the texture less appealing.

A team of R.&D. scientists and chemical engineers from PepsiCo and the University of Queensland sought to create a technique that analyzes the physical characteristics of a potato chip at four stages during consumption: the first bite; when the chip’s particles are broken down further and wet by saliva — known as comminution; when the softened particles begin to clump as enzymes — called bolus formation; and when the chip is finally swallowed.

Using in vitro oral processing, the researchers measured the physical characteristics of the snack with a variety of oils. For example, they tested the force required to break a chip with the first bite. During bolus formation, researchers investigated the hydration rate of particles in buffer as the fragments became a soft solid.

With the final results, the research team created a lower fat chip coated in a thin layer of seasoning oil. This oil contains a small amount of food emulsifier and only adds 0.5% more oil to the product. It also causes the chip to resemble the greasiness of a traditional potato chip when tested with two additional types of potato chips on sensory panelists.

After dividing oral processing into distinct parts, food scientists can control key sensory attributes of potato chips by linking them with physical measurements to create a low-fat product. For more information about this study, find the report published by A.C.S. here.