Fats and oils—ingredients that enable bakers and snack manufacturers to produce their scrumptious goods—continue to be analyzed by medical researchers, maligned by nutritionists and misunderstood by many consumers, despite food labeling, restaurant restrictions and educational information generated by government agencies and public health organizations.

Cognizant of the scrutiny their products are under, as well as committed to helping their customers create nutritious and tasty foods, fats and oils producers have been working diligently for many years to develop ingredients that will allow bakers and snack manufacturers to produce better-for-you goods with less or no “bad” fats (trans and saturated) and acceptable levels of “good” fats (mono- and polyunsaturated).

The result has been a plethora of products superior those used by our grandmothers, who relied on lard and butter to create their scrumptious concoctions. In fact, Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery’s last look at the fats and oils category (“Spreading the World About New Fats and Oils,” August 2011) featured a host of innovative products, some of which are just now finding their way into food producers’ recipes.

Last year, many companies, for instance, were developing or introducing high-oleic oils, that are high in monounsaturated fats, low in polyunsaturated fats and shelf-stable, making them suitable for use in packaged foods, including baked goods and snacks. Bakers and snack producers now can choose the high-oleic oil—canola, corn, peanut, safflower, soybean, sunflower or hybrid—that best suits their needs.

Currently available high-oleic oil offerings include Nutrisun, a high-stearic, high-oleic sunflower oil from Advanta Semillas SAIC in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Plenish, high-oleic soybean oil from Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Johnston, Iowa; and Clear Valley 80 high-oleic canola oil from Cargill Oils & Shortenings, Minneapolis.

Omega 9 oils also made their debut last year, when Indianapolis-based Dow AgroSciences introduced its Omega 9 sunflower oil at the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting and Food Expo. Made from Nexera canola and sunflower seeds developed by Dow AgroSciences, the oil has zero trans-fat and high levels of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

Expeller-pressed organic and/or nongenetically modified organism (GMO) oils, also have been providing food processors with healthier oil options. These oils are made from oilseeds mechanically pressed by an expeller machine, a process that doesn’t require the use of harsh chemical solvents. SunOpta Grains and Foods Group in Hope, Minn., for example, has been offering natural vegetables oils (soy, sunflower and safflower) made this way for years. Last year, the company also added a line of palm oil products, which can be used to replace hydrogenated oils.

The replacements

Products designed to replace oils and fats in baked goods and other foods are also now available to food producers. In 2010, Cargill introduced CitriTex GSG71 stabilizer blend, which allows up to a 50% replacement of oil or fat in bakery products, while maintaining the taste and texture of a full-fat product and helping food manufacturers optimize formulation costs.

Lenexa, Kan.-based Caravan Ingredients, meanwhile, received an IFT Food Expo Award in 2010 for Trancendim, a specialty mono-diglyceride that can replace tropical or hydrogenated oils and acts as a structuring agent in fat systems to create products that offer zero trans-fat and reduced saturated fat. “Trancendim can give functionality, while reducing saturated fat and replacing it with the ‘healthy oils,’ such as mono and polyunsaturated,” explains category manager Diane Carnell. “If a customer moved to palm oil to solve its trans-fat issue, Trancendim can reduce or eliminate palm usage, which will allow for a more rapid crystallization and will also lessen flavor and mouthfeel issues.”

Applications include pan-fry and donut frying oils; roll-in margarines for Danish, puff pastries and laminated dough; tortillas; pizza crust; and frozen foods where anti-stick functionality is desirable.

Caravan Ingredients continues to work with bakers and snack producers, as well as other food-related companies, to expand its portfolio. “Most recently, we partnered with P&G Chemicals, Cincinnati, to create an Olean shortening that is powered by Trancendim,” says Carnell. “Olean is the brandname for olestra, a specific type of sucrose polyester containing eight fatty acids esterified to a sucrose backbone. By combining the zero-calorie, fat-free aspects of olestra with the lipid-structuring ability of Trancendim diglycerides, it’s possible to create shortenings containing significantly fewer calories, zero trans-fat and very low saturated fatty acid content.”

Carnell goes on to say that Caravan Ingredients’ innovation development focus will continue to support the health and wellness demands of today’s consumers. “Fat reduction—specifically saturated fat reduction—will continue to gain momentum,” she says. “The solutions we provide to the market must allow manufacturers to produce high-quality and good-tasting products, while delivering reduced fats and calories. Another major focus for us is in providing products that support reducing caloric density by using emulsifiers that allow for low-calorie solutions.”

Rice is nice

Another oil used in rice-producing countries for decades—possibly centuries, according to John Gyulai, president and CEO of Oilseeds International Inc.—is rice bran oil, which is derived from rice bran. San Francisco-based Oilseeds formed the RITO Partnership in 1994 with Riceland Foods, Stuttgart, Ark., and began producing Oryzan rice bran oil in Stuttgart in 1999. It wasn’t until several years later, however, that food producers in the U.S. and Western world began taking note of the oil.

“Starting in 2004-2005, when trans-fats became a hot topic and labeling became an issue, many food companies became more receptive [to rice bran oil] and started looking at solutions to replacing hydrogenated oils,” explains Gyulai. “Because of the natural antioxidants in rice bran oil and its superior frying capabilities and capacities, it got an opportunity, around this time, to be tested by a lot of food companies in the U.S.”

Today, Oryzan rice bran oil is predominantly used “on the snack side of things and by businesses where high-temperature frying is a critical component,” he says. “The major advantage [to this oil] is when you’re frying at elevated temperatures—because of the oil’s natural antioxidants—it doesn’t lose the affect of its antioxidants as quickly as oils to which antioxidants have been added.” It also doesn’t smoke as much and is more stable at high-temperatures.

The oil contains three classes of natural antioxidants (oryzanols, tocotrienols and tocopherols), has a slightly nutty tasty that works with all kinds of flavors, and has almost the same chemical makeup as peanut oil, according to Gyulai.

Despite all its attributes, rice bran oil does pose a challenge to producers. “One of the challenges of rice bran oil production is having enough bran, which is the portion that contains the oil,” says Gyulai. “Bran accounts for only about 10% of the rice by weight. If you take it one step further, the portion that we’re after is only 1.8% of the rice by weight.”

2012 IFT debutants

Given the research and development, testing, federal regulations, time and money involved in bringing a product to market, it’s not surprising that fats and oils suppliers don’t launch new products annually. But two companies did unveil new items at IFT in June. 

St. Louis-based Bunge North America introduced Saturate Sparing All Purpose and Saturate Sparing Emulsified, two nutritional, functional bakery shortenings. Both products provide bakers with a no-trans-fat and low-saturates option; lower saturated fat; and increased monounsaturated fat and low linoleic content, to provide a healthier profile that will appeal to health-conscious food processors.

Developed by Dilip Nakhasi, director of innovation at Bunge Oils, the patent-pending, saturate-sparing technology uses proprietary, nonlipid ingredients and blending and crystallization processes (triacylglycerols mismatch) to reduce saturate levels by more than 40% in the all-purpose and emulsified shortenings. In addition, the technology has no trans-fat per serving and provides greater levels of heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated levels over traditional shortening.

“Everybody’s reading labels more closely nowadays,” says Ben Carpenter, marketing specialist at Bunge Oils. “Trans-fat used to be the biggest concern of consumers, but now the focus is starting to be more on things like saturated fats. This is a way for companies to drop in a functional fat and reduce saturated fat in the process.”

Saturate Sparing All Purpose can be used to create all kinds of baked goods; Saturate Sparing Emulsified is intended for emulsified batter and cake and icing formulas. “It’s a drop-in replacement,” says Nakhasi of Saturate Sparing Shortening. “You don’t have to do anything. It has the consistency of shortening. It looks like, tastes like and [performs] like shortening.”

Richardson Oilseed Ltd., Winnipeg, Manitoba, meanwhile, introduced a high-oleic canola oil with natural antioxidants at IFT 2012 that combines the health benefits of reduced saturated fat, high stability and functionality. The product also enables food manufacturers to have cleaner label declarations because it includes natural, not artificial, antioxidants.

“High-oleic oils are very stable,” says Lloyd Watt, Western U.S. and Canadian sales manager for the company’s industrial division. “When we added a natural antioxidant to our natural canola oil, it increased that stability factor even more. Where I see this product having an impact is as a spray application in the cracker industry, the crouton industry and the dried fruit industry.”

Another product recently introduced by Richardson is Bake-It Rollin NH, a premium, buttery-flavored, roll-in margarine for making puff pastry, croissants, Danish and laminated dough applications. “We knew we had to get a zero-trans-fat, roll-in margarine,” Watt explains. “We didn’t have one in our portfolio. We heard from customers who weren’t happy with current [margarines] on the marketplace, so we learned what they didn’t like about them.”

Bake-It Rollin NH is nonhydrogenated and trans-fat compliant, contains no salt or whey powder and has a buttery flavor and color. It’s also gluten-free and kosher. 

Richardson has introduced about 25 new products in the last five years, says Watts, many of which are based on original oil, shortening and margarine formulations that were “tweaked” to address specific customer requests, such as the need for a preservative- or allergen-free product.

“There are several others that we’re working on,” says Watts. “If you have the roll-in margarine, you have to have the roll-in shortening for the puff-pastry applications. We’re just about ready to release that. It’s a zero-trans-fat roll-in shortening.

“We think it’s important that everything we produce is as low in saturated fat as possible without losing the functionality of the product,” Watts adds. “Anytime you can draw 5- or 10% [saturated fat] from an item, it’s a good thing.”

On the horizon

ADM Oils, Decatur, Ill., is continuing its work with enzymatically interesterified products, and has developed prototypes using mid-oleic sunflower oil, high-oleic canola oil and high-oleic soybean oil as the liquid oil source. “These oils can be blended with fully hydrogenated soybean oil and then enzymatically interesterified to produce functional and oxidatively stable ‘zero-g.-trans-fat-per-serving shortenings,” says senior technical manager Tom Tiffany. “Fully hydrogenated soybean oil has been the common hardstock used for interesterification; however, palm oil fractions can be used as an alternative to provide shortenings with similar functionality and stability.”

Peitz adds that these enzymatically interesterified-based shortenings can be used in a variety of bakery applications, for donut frying, in margarine and spreads, as milk-fat alternatives and for other applications requiring a solid fat.

“ADM Oils actively listens to the needs of bakers and snack producers to better understand their desires for functional, nutritionally improved, readily available and cost-effective fats and oils,” she says. “We take this information and work to provide the best oil and fat system. Our support then continues with lab trials, trial product and onsite scale-up support. A successful product has to not only meet the requirements on paper, but has to function in all aspects of the process. SF&WB