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USDA: Low-fat bakery possible with oil microdroplets

By Stephen Daniells, 30-Mar-2010

Related topics: Ingredients, Ingredients

Microdroplets of trans-fat-free cooking oil, encapsulated in cornstarch or wheat flour may enable a range of low-fat cake and frosting for bakery applications, according to new findings from the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

By using the Fantesk-branded ingredient cakes can reportedly be formulated without adding cooking oil, with the finished product said to be low-fat with improved texture and volume.

Researchers led by Mukti Singh, PhD, a research food technologist with the ARS’ Functional Foods Research Unit, also report that lower-fat frostings created with Fantesk have the smooth texture and spreadability of buttercream favorites, but with up to 50 percent less fat, according to the March 2010 issue of Agricultural Research magazine. http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/mar10/calories0310.htm.

The ingredient was developed in the 1990s by ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR) chemists George Fanta and the late Kenneth Eskins.

Dr Singh told FoodNavigator-USA the ingredient is protected by US Patents 5,676,994 and 5,882,713, and has been licensed and the licensees are working on commercially manufacturing it.

What is it?

According to the ARS, Fantesk is a mixture of starch, water, and one or more oily substances. Fanta and Eskins reportedly produced an unusual gel by processing starch and an oil, such as soy oil, in pressurised superheated steam. Regardless of the subsequent processing – be it melting, freezing, or drum-drying, the tiny oil droplets were found to remain dispersed in the starch.

Beyond bakery

Previous reports from the ARS have stated that Fantesk could be used in food applications beyond bakery, ranging from cheese to ice cream.

For cheese the fat content could be reduced to less than 3 percent, making it a ‘no-fat cheese’ under federal regulations. The fat content of full-fat cheese is 34 percent or more.

NCAUR scientists have also considered the potential of Fantesk in soft-serve low-fat ice cream, with results reportedly showing that Fantesk-containing soft-serve with 1.1 percent fat had similar taste and mouth feel as a commercial 3.5 percent-fat soft-serve. Conventional soft-serves contain up to 8 percent fat.

Dr Singh confirmed that research is ongoing with the ingredient and that her team is working on other food applications for Fantesk.