The ingredients giant, which recently established a new R&D centre in Lille, France, to focus on innovations in healthier ingredients, already has a line of 10 Merigel instant starches providing functionalities for different food categories. The new additions, Merigel 300 and 301, are instant waxy maize starches. Helena Vanhoutte, product manager for starches at Tate & Lyle Ingredients France told FoodNavigator.com that this means they have optimised gelatinisation in dough. When these starches are used in dough for snacks like crisps, tortilla chips, crackers, and other snacks, the products can be baked in an oven and still achieve the same crispy texture as they would if they were fried. It is during the frying process that snack foods absorb much of their fat content. By eliminating the need for frying, and hence frying oil, the new Merigel ingredients can bring about as much as a 70 per cent reduction in overall fat content. By contrast, if dough not containing these starches were to be oven baked, the end result would be more like a regular bread, without the expected crispiness. Vanhoutte explained the difference between the 300 and the 301 variants is due to a difference in the starch particle size. The 300 has finer particles which work in chips, whereas the 301 particles are coarser and work better for coatings, such as for peanuts. "It depends on the customer needs," she said. While there has been considerable attention recently to reduction of specific types of unhealthy fats, like saturated and trans fats, the Merigel innovations are targeted to reducing total fat content. If a manufacturer were looking specifically to reduce saturated fat content in a product they would best do this by changing the type of oil used to one with a healthier profile. However Vanhoutte agreed that, by removing the need for frying oil, it follows that there will also be a reduction in saturated fat in the finished product Tate & Lyle offers its customers a service called Rebalance, under which it helps them reformulate products along healthier lines - such as less sugar, calories, salt or fat. Merigel 300 and 301 will be used as part of this programme. "They fit with the overall idea of rebalancing, reducing fat and sugar, and bringing calories down," said Vanhoutte.