Avebe first announced the development of Etenia, born out of a collaboration with DSM, in 2007. Its initial use was as a fat replacer for dairy products but other applications have since been unveiled. These include using it as a fat replacer in cakes, and as a gelatine replacer in jelly-type confectionery.
The ingredient is thermo-reversible – it thins when heated and thickens when cooled – and texturising. According to the company, it can be used to lower the saturated fat in butter or margarine by between 20 and 50 per cent, without having an impact on palatability and taste or requiring specialist equipment or processing changes.
The new application is topical because saturated fat reduction is a major target for food manufacturers, who are working hard to improve the nutrient profiles of their products without rendering them unacceptable to consumers.
Although reformulation is on the agenda all across Europe and in other countries outside the bloc, the UK is said many to be leading the way in food formulation. Last week the Food Standards Agency published its recommendations for reducing saturated fat and sugar in sweet goods, such as biscuits, and sugar-laden beverages.
The recommendations are voluntary and not legally enforceable, but they set out goals for an industry that prefers to self-regulate – and be seen to be doing so – rather than accept tough regulations being handed down from government.
Reception to Etenia in the marketplace has been good. Last year it won the Food Valley award in The Netherlands.
The ingredient can be used in place of modified starch, which some consumers find off-putting on food labels. It can be labelled simply as ‘starch’ used in so-called ‘clean-label’ products, which avoid the use of E-numbers.