The research, published in the Elsevier journal Food Chemistry, offer an innovative route for French fry producers to create lower fat products without affecting the texture of the fry, said the researchers.
"French fries manufacturers are interested in reducing fat content of the product because of the high prices of oil and quality requirements of consumers, who prefer low-fat French fries of high sensory value and with the flavour and aroma of freshly-baked potato, uniform in colour, crispy texture of the skin and mealy flesh," said the authors.
Authors Grazyna Lisinska and Agnieszka Tajner-Czopek from the Agricultural University of Wrocaw in Poland, in collaboration with Lisbeth Kalum from Denmarks Novozymes, looked at the effect of using a crude enzyme preparation from Aspergillus aculeatus containing pectolytic and hemicellulytic activities (Pectinex Ultra SP-L, Novozymes A/S) on the microstructure of Innowator and Santana potato varieties, the most common cultivars used for French fries production in Central Europe.
Writing in the Elsevier journal Food Chemistry, Lisinska and co-workers report: "The results obtained in the study show that pectolytic and hemicellulytic activities of enzymes used for French fries production improve the quality of the finished product, especially fat content, after the first and the second stage of frying, which was 1020 per cent lower in treated than in untreated French fries."
Using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), the researchers report that the enzymes worked by destroying the cell wall of the potato cells.
"Destruction of the cell structure caused by enzymes suppressed penetration of fat into the internal portion of French fries, immediately after they had been taken out of the frying oil," they said.
This preliminary research by Novozymes and its collaborators suggests that enzymes have significant potential for the production of French fries with reduced fat content that may be readily accepted by consumers increasingly conscious of the nutritional profile of foods.
Currently bakery enzymes make up about a third of the overall food enzyme market, and this sectors is expected to make the strongest gains in the sector over the next few years, according to market analyst group Frost & Sullivan.
The global enzyme market is burgeoning with world demand expected to rise 6.5 per cent annually to nearly $5.1 billion in 2009, according to market analyst Freedonia.
The future of the European food enzymes market also looks positive. This market is expected to increase steadily at about 3.5 per cent, with revenues hitting about €240 million by 2011 according to Frost & Sullivan.
Further opportunities for growth in the food enzyme market, which continues to be dominated by Novozymes, Danisco, DSM, AB Enzymes and Chr Hansen, lie in developments, driven by biotechnology, that provide food and beverage makers with the right tools to meet consumer trends, claims market analysts Frost & Sullivan.
Source: Food Chemistry Volume 102, Issue 4, Pages 1055-1060 "The effects of enzymes on fat content and texture of French fries" Authors: G. Lisinska, A. Tajner-Czopek and L. Kalum