The following provides a brief synopsis on just a few sessions from the reduced-fat and trans-fat track of Prepared Foods' 2005 R&D Conference. Other tracks will be covered in future issues.--Eds.
Soy on the MindMedia publicity in magazines like Bon Appetit, McCall's and Reader's Digest is driving soy awareness so such so that, according to the United Soybean Board's “National Report 2005-06 Consumer Attitudes About Nutrition,” 78% of consumers recognize soy as “healthy.” A 2005 poll taken by Health Focus International reports that shoppers “have heard some or a lot about” correlations between soy and cholesterol reduction, cancer prevention, menopause and weight management. “The message that consumers take away is that soy is 'good-for-me,'” says George Rakes, director of applied technology at The Solae Company.
Advances in flavor processing technology have led to continuous improvements in soy protein ingredients, allowing the creation of food products in a solid, low-moisture format, such as bars. Protein bars are consumed mainly as a source of nutrients, while confectionery bars are consumed as sweet products. The protein content of such bars typically ranges between 5g to 35g.
Isolated soy protein (ISP) is a high-quality protein. In nutrition bars, ISP improves the texture and extends the shelflife of bars. New technology ISP proteins perform well as the sole source of protein or in protein blends. The texture of snack or protein bars can be modified using isolated soy protein in the form of extruded nuggets. Soy protein can be applied to cookies, muffins, bread, pizza crust/pizza dough, cereals, expanded cereals, flaked cereals and clusters (often used in cereals and yogurts).
Snacks represent a major food category and may potentially be used as vehicles to deliver soy protein to the diets. Soy-containing snacks should be a combination of good taste and healthy image. Soy is becoming an integral part of great-tasting, healthy snacks. For example, with the aim of balancing protein, fat and carbohydrates at a level of 40:30:30, 14g and 15g of protein per serving can be formulated into extruded puffs and chocolate clusters, respectively.
Partnerships with flavor companies have resulted in better soy application flavor technology, making it possible to include soy in yogurts, frozen desserts, soups and sauces.
Oiled OutIn a discussion about the reduction and removal of trans fat from food, Frank Stynes, senior vice president at Ventura Foods LLC, explained that hydrogenation increases thermal and oxidative stability, adds firmness and plasticity, increases shelflife and improves aerating/creaming. Unfortunately, hydrogenation also increases trans fatty acid content.
The FDA has stated that there is a direct correlation between trans fatty acid intake and an increase in blood levels of LDL cholesterol, which contributes to a risk in coronary disease. “Americans consume 5.8g of trans/daily. This is 2.6% of total calories,” says Stynes. Unlike other health trends, the labeling of trans fatty acids is legislated. The FDA has mandated that the Nutrition Facts panel must include information on trans fat for all retail consumer goods by January 1, 2006.
The removal of trans fat will most affect baking applications, as they require structure, which is found in solid fats like animal fat and palm oil. Spray and fry applications can use stable domestic oils.
In baking applications, palm oil provides enough solids so hydrogenation is not required. Additionally, it creates a “silkier” mouthfeel, has excellent elasticity and folding properties, and is more heat stable. Palm oil can incorporate more air for faster mix times. Solid Fat Index (SFI) graphs depict how source oils and processing changes affect finished oils, and their impact on product functionality and eating quality.
Potential long-term options to replace trans fat with domestic seed crop options and other fatty acids could include hybrid crops for added stability and structure, along with medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). In a 1oz. cookie, the trans fat content can be changed from 25.6% to 0%, but it will increase the level of saturates from 20% to 28%. Ultimately, saturated and trans fats will be tied together and consumers will weigh the benefits of excluding one over the other.