Nestle looks to self-assembling structures for low-fat products

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Flavor

A simple structured emulsion system could correct for flavour imbalances in reduced and low-fat products, scientists at Nestlé Research Center (NRC) have reported.

The structured emulsion, where unsaturated monoglycerides are added to the oil, produced an aroma release profile close to that observed from a traditional emulsion containing double the fat content, states the study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.​Fat reduction is one of the main ways in which manufacturers are seeking to make products attractive to consumers who have health high up on their shopping lists. However as with salt and sugar reduction, this poses a problem for formulators since reduced fat can impair taste - and no matter what their healthy intentions poor taste is enough to turn consumers off a product. 

Talking to​, lead researcher Nicolas Godinot explained that most existing reduced fat products on the market today use reformulations that primarily focus on mimicking the textural characteristics, rather than flavour characteristics of full-fat products. "However, flavour characteristics are important in the sensory perception of reduced fat products,"​ said Dr. Godinot. "Some flavour components (released aroma compounds) of reduced fat products are initially perceived strongly, yet dissipate quickly, whereas the flavour intensity of full-fat products gradually builds up and persists for a longer time. "This flavour imbalance is often recognised in reduced fat products, and to overcome this issue, some formulations may increase flavouring or use a more or less complex encapsulated system. "The work of Nestlé research created a simple formulation system, but with a very specific ability to form self-assembly structures, to correct for the flavour imbalance usually present in reduced fat products." ​The NRC scientists used the self-assembling properties of unsaturated monoglycerides (Dimodan MO90, Danisco) to create structured emulsions, and compared the release and retention of nine aroma compounds (Aldrich-Sigma) to conventional oil-in-water emulsions, using in vitro​ dynamic headspace analysis. Dr. Godinot and co-workers report that the aroma release profile of the structured emulsion containing five per cent lipid was close to that obtained for the conventional emulsion containing 10 per cent lipid, under dynamic conditions. Furthermore, under static conditions, retention of the most lipophilic aroma compounds was considerably greater in the structured emulsion (five per cent lipid) than the corresponding five per cent non-structured emulsion.

"Our study validated the concept, demonstrating for the first time that a formulation containing a self-assembly structure can specifically delay the release of the aroma compounds affected by the reduction of fat,"​ Dr. Godinot told this website. "The next research step is to validate this concept with sensory and consumer studies in more complex products such as sauces, spreads, ice creams, etc."​ 

He also confirmed that this concept is continuing to receive attention from the company. "Now that the concept is proven, we move to the challenge of applying this solution to complex food systems, using sensory and consumer study validation,"​ he said. 

Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry​  Published on-line ahead of print, doi: 10.1021/jf072520k  "Delayed Volatile Compound Release Properties of Self-Assembly Structures in Emulsions" ​Authors. V.-A. Phan, Y.-C. Liao, N. Antille, L. Sagalowicz, F. Robert, N. Godinot

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