As with all reformulation goals, lowering saturated fats is only part of the puzzle. Often it comes up against other priorities such as a clean ingredient label or fats and oils from sustainable sources. This can tie the formulator’s hands in choosing options.
“Reducing saturated fat levels not just in baked goods but in food in general is creating an increasing trend towards products that are better for you,” said Dr. Anita Srivastava, certified food scientist and senior technical service manager at Bakery, Kemin. “This trend overlaps with clean label and sustainability, as consumers often look for products that meet all three requirements.”
Clean labeling can mean many different things to consumers, and that is part of the challenge. Non-GMO and organic products often check this box, and hydrogenation has not fully recovered from the shadow cast by partially hydrogenated oils in the consumer’s eye.
“Consumers are very confused because they associate the term hydrogenation with partially hydrogenated oils and trans fats. However, the fully hydrogenated oil formulation enables food manufacturers to make baked goods without trans fats, ”said Jamie Mavec, Marketing Manager for Cargill’s edible oils business. “But there is confusion among consumers about the term so that bakers could switch to a different type of oil or an interesterified product, which, oddly enough, although interesterification is a less familiar term to consumers, isn’t as negative as hydrogenation.”
When reformulating to reduce saturated fat, bakers also need to consider how additional ingredients that replace functionality can affect consumers with clean labels.
“When you replace saturated fats and remove them from the label, you always have the option to add other products to achieve these properties and these may not add to the clean labels,” said Dennis Strayer, oil consultant for the United Soybean Board.
While reducing saturated fat is important for consumers, fat components can also contribute to the nutritional qualities of a baked good.
“Fats perform a variety of functions related to general well-being and human physiology,” said John Satumba, PhD, technical director of global bakery and regional director for North America, Cargill. “The fatty acids in triglycerides are essential for human physiology. These are supplied through fat consumption. “
Soybean oil can be a source of omega-3 linolenic acid, and sunflower and soybean oils both contain omega-6 linoleic acid, according to Andrea Weis, a customer innovation application specialist at AAK USA.
“AAK fats and oils are only made from vegetable sources, so our products do not contain cholesterol,” she said. “In addition, unsaturated fatty acids help lower LDL cholesterol, high levels of which are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.”
Bakers can make some health claims with soybeans and high-oil oils, but Mr Strayer warned that those claims can be awkward to find just right.
“Bakers can use the term ‘heart healthy’ and feel confident that they will be recognized in the market as having healthy hearts,” he said.