As with all reformulating goals, lowering saturated fats is only one piece of the puzzle. Often it runs into other priorities such as having a clean ingredient label or sustainably sourced fats and oils. This can tie up formulators’ hands when it comes to choosing options.

“Reducing saturated fat content in not only baked goods but food products in general feeds into the increasing trend for better-for-you products,” said Anita Srivastava, PhD, certified food scientist and senior technical service manager, Bakery, Kemin. “This trend intersects with clean label and sustainability as many times consumers are looking for products that meet all three of these demands.”

Clean label can mean a lot of different things to consumers, and that’s part of the challenge. Non-GMO and organic often check that box, and hydrogenation has not fully recovered in the eye of the consumer from the shadow cast by partially hydrogenated oils.

“There is a lot of confusion among consumers because they associate the term hydrogenation with partially hydrogenated oils and trans fats. However, formulating with fully hydrogenated oils allows food manufacturers to produce bakery products with no trans fats,” said Jamie Mavec, marketing manager for edible oils business, Cargill. “But there is consumer confusion around the term, so bakers could move to a different type of oil or an interesterified product, which oddly enough, even though interesterified is a less familiar term to consumers, it is not as negative as hydrogenation.” 

When reformulating to reduce saturated fats, bakers also need to be aware of how any added ingredients to replace functionality may play with clean label consumers.

“When you’re substituting from saturated fats and remove them from the label, you always end up with the possibility of adding in other products to get those characteristics, and those might not contribute to the clean labels,” said Dennis Strayer, oils consultant for the United Soybean Board.

While decreasing saturated fat is important to consumers, fat ingredients can also contribute to the nutritive qualities of a baked good.

“Fats perform a myriad of functions for overall human well-being and physiology,” said John Satumba, PhD, global bakery technical lead and regional director for North America, Cargill. “The fatty acids in triglycerides are essential for human physiology. These are delivered through fat consumption.”

Soybean oil can be a source of omega-3 linolenic acid and sunflower and soybean oils both contain omega-6 linoleic acid, according to Andrea Weis, customer innovation application specialist, AAK USA.

“AAK fats and oils are derived only from plant sources, therefore our products don’t contain cholesterol,” she said. “Additionally, unsaturated fatty acids help to lower LDL cholesterol, of which high levels are tied to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Bakers can make some health claims with soybean and high oleic oils, but Mr. Strayer warned that these claims can be cumbersome to get just right.

“Bakers can use the term ‘heart healthy’ and feel comfortable that they are being recognized as being heart healthy in the marketplace,” he said.

This article is an excerpt from the April 2021 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on fats & oils, click here.