Vegetable oil mix may substitute for pork fat in meats

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition

Polyunsaturated-rich oils may replace pork fat in sausages, suggests a new Spanish-Colombian study with implications for healthier meat products.

Chemical modification of a variety of vegetable oils, including sunflower, soy been, palm, canola, cotton, cartamo, olive and maize, led to a pork backfat substitute with up to 20 per cent less saturated fat, according to findings published yesterday in Meat Science​.

Researchers led by Juana Fernandez-Lopez from the Migeul Hernandez University in Alicante, Spain report that the melting point of the oil mixture was also similar to that of pork backfat, while characteristics such as colour, consistency, oxidative stability, and taste

Despite the promising results, the researchers noted that the oil mixtures needed to be evaluated in a final product “before they can be recommended for widespread use in the meat industry”​.

“Today's consumers look for foods which provide nutrition and pleasure, while safeguarding their health, the result of which is that they increasingly avoid foods containing cholesterol and saturated and trans fatty acids,”​ explained the researchers.

“Chemically modified vegetable oils can help tailor meat products to meet this growing need and at the same time fulfil the technological needs of the meat processing industry,”​ they added.

The food industry is coming under increasing pressure to reformulate food products to reduce saturated fat content. The UK’s Food Standards Agency, for example, launched the Saturated Fat and Energy Intake programme (SFEI) in February 2008, as part of a bid to tackle cardiovascular disease and obesity.

The tough draft recommendations call for certain biscuits, cakes and pasties to reduce their saturated fat levels by 10 per cent on 2008 levels by 2010, for example.

The new study looked initially at measuring the composition of pork backfat and then combining the vegetable oils in differing ratios using an interesterification reaction in order to achieve a pork backfat-type composition with improved lipid profile.

Three mixtures were prepared, with all leading to a 10 to 20 per cent reduction in saturated fats. Furthermore, the melting points were similar to those observed in the backfat.

Looking at the fatty acid profile, two formulations not only improved the polyunsaturated/saturated fatty acids ratio, but also reduced the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids “to fulfil the levels recommended in the literature”​, they said.

“The design of such combinations of CMVO will permit the development of safe, tasty and healthier meat products,”​ concluded Fernandez-Lopez and her co-workers.

Source: Meat Science
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.meatsci.2009.10.003
“Development of combinations of chemically modified vegetable oils as pork backfat substitutes in sausages formulation”
Authors: J.C. Ospina, A. Cruz, J.A. Perez-Alvarez, J. Fernandez-Lopez

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