Citric acid additive boosts flavour and shelf-life of fried foods

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Fatty acid

A proprietary citric acid-based antioxidant may extend the lifespan of frying oils, and have carry over benefits to the finished product by boosting shelf-life, says a new study.

Addition of Elvisem’s EPT-OILShield additive delayed the degradation of soybean oil after intermittent batch frying of tortilla chips at 180 Celsius for up to 65 hours, according to findings published in the Journal of Food Science​.

Kathleen Warner from the USDA and Elvisem’s Marta Meta Gehring also report that, compared to tortilla chips fried in a control oil were rancid after two months, while chips fried in oil containing 0.05 per cent EPT-OILShield were said to be “only slightly rancid”​ after four months.

The times they are a-changin’

With food manufacturers increasingly interested in alternatives to increase the fry life of oils used for fried snack foods, the research supports the potential of the company’s ingredient to enhance the shelf life of the stored food.

Matthew Gehring, CEO of Elvisem, told FoodNavigator: “What this product does is delay the onset of degradation, delaying the formation of oxidized fatty acids even with extended exposure to high temperatures.”

“A company can continue with its normal operating procedure, and just add the antioxidant to the oil. This extends the shelf-life, making the product taste better and last longer,”​ he said.

There is a move in the food industry towards using healthier oils like high oleic acid soybean, but these are less stable, explained Matthew Gehring. By adding the citric acid-based antioxidant, a company could use these healthier oils, without concerns over the stability, he said.

He added that the company is already working with several large potato chip and corn chip manufacturers in the US.

Proprietary technology

The proprietary ingredient is reportedly a “preparation of citric acid with potassium sulfate and aluminum silicate as adjuvants”​, explained Turner and Gehring in the Journal of Food Science​.

“It is formulated using a novel technology, code-named EPT for Energy Potential Technology, which was developed on the fundamental understanding that oxidation is also a function of molecular charge electronics,”​ they added.

The technology works by influencing the electron transport chain, thereby enhancing the natural antioxidant activity of citric acid, without changing the chemical characteristics.

“The EPT-enhanced citric acid based product is prepared using a proprietary method in which no thermal or chemical treatments are used,”​ added the researchers.

Study data

Kathleen Warner and Marta Meta Gehring investigated the effect of the ingredient in tortilla chips fried in soybean oil with zero, 0.05, or 0.5 per cent EPT-OILShield added.

They report that, following intermittent batch frying of tortilla chips at 180 Celsius for up to 65 hours, the “oil with 0.05 per cent EPT-OILShield had significantly less free fatty acids and total polar compounds than the control”​.

Furthermore, a 15-member panel of trained, experienced sensory analysts found that the tortilla chips fried in the control oil were rancid after two months of storage at 25 Celsius, while chips fried in oil used for 65 hours and containing the lowest EPT-OILShield level were “described as only slightly rancid after four months,”​ they said.

Health boost?

Vitamin E levels, defined by gamma tocopherol levels, were also found to be significantly higher in the chips fried in the 0.05 per cent EPT-OILShield-containing oil, compared to the control.

Following a presentation at this year’s IFT Annual Meeting and Food Expo in Anaheim by the USDA’s Warner, Matthew Gehring confirmed that the company has received “tremendous feedback from US and Mexican companies”​.

Source: Journal of Food Science
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2009.01249.x
“High-Temperature Natural Antioxidant Improves Soy Oil for Frying”
Authors: K. Warner, M.M. Gehring

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