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Trimming the trans fat: Kraft-backed research proposes novel cellulosic gel replacer

By Nathan Gray+

22-Aug-2013
Last updated the 22-Aug-2013 at 14:39 GMT

Kraft-backed research proposes novel cellulosic gel replacer

A novel food-grade oleogel made of cellulosic polymer, surfactant and oil could be used to substitute trans fats in foods, according to new research backed by Kraft Foods.

The study, published in LWT - Food Science and Technology , analysed the structural properties of the potential new fat replacer - finding that the edible gel can be used to provide fat-like functionalities.

Led by Tania Dey from the University of Guelph, Canada, the study authors noted that developing healthy shortenings and fillings for cookies, muffins, puff pastries and chocolate products can be extremely beneficial for consumers and industry.

"This can be achieved by gelling oils into ‘oleogels’ or ‘organogels’," said Dey - who revealed that previous research has reported oleogel preparation from ethyl cellulose (EC) in ethoxylated glyceride medium, "indicating that the colour, smell and transparency of EC remains intact upon gelation."

The Kraft Foods backed research explored oil structuring via polymer gelation to produce a novel, food grade, cellulosic gel that may be of use in the replacement of unhealthy fats such as trans fats.

"This is an emerging strategy and holds a lot of promise in the area of food and nutrition," said Dey.  

"The aim is to identify the most promising polymer to structure edible oils, to understand the structural, compositional and interaction parameters associated with the gelation process and to discover a novel class of soft material with fat-like functionalities."

Gel structure

The research investigated how the formulation of the novel gel - from cellulosic polymer, surfactant and oil - affected its structural properties - revealing that the properties of the oil-containing polymer gel was influenced by the structure and the formulation of the components.

"Viscoelastic parameters of the gels were correlated to polymer viscosity, surfactant structure and oil composition," noted Dey, while the use of sorbitan monostearate and glycerol monooleate as surfactants imparted the maximum and minimum gel strengths respectively.

"Oleic acid containing surfactants offered more plasticizing effect than its stearic acid counterpart," she said.

Soruce: LWT - Food Science and Technology
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.lwt.2013.07.015
"Cellulosic oleogel as trans-fat substitute: Viscoelastic and structural properties"
Author: Tania Dey

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