At a time when both malnutrition and obesity are increasingly becoming global issues, it is perhaps unsurprising that health, nutrition and weight management are the current main consumer trends within the food industry. As a consequence of these trends, innovation within this sector is being driven by the need to reduce perceived 'bad' ingredients: (saturated/trans) fat, salt and sugar, whilst attempting at the same time to fortify foods with nutritional actives, such as minerals, vitamins and antioxidants, all in support of a healthier lifestyle. The market for reduced fat/reduced calorie products is highly lucrative. In the UK alone, this market segment was worth GBP 1,875 million in 2004, up from GBP 1,372 million in 2000. In 2005, sales are expected to reach GBP 1,975 million. However it should be stated that in moving towards healthier, more nutritious products, the demanding consumer still expects that the quality of the particular food in question is not compromised in terms of overall sensory performance (appearance, texture, flavour). The use of emulsifiers as a structuring tool for fat reduction and/or nutritional enhancement is exemplified in many food product systems. Some examples of emulsifier applications for fat reduction, such as fat structuring in homogenised creams and ice creams, are not necessarily new innovations. However, there are also more recent developments, such as the use of emulsifier mesophase technology which have found application in products such as zero fat ice creams and spreads. This chapter reviews some of these diverse applications, both old and new, aiming to show the versatility of emulsifiers when in food formulations for the purpose of fat reduction and nutritional enhancement. The term emulsifier in this instance refers specifically to (non-protein) molecules derived from fatty acids, such as lecithins, monoglycerides and their derivatives. It aims to examine the contribution of emulsifiers in improving product structural design as a means of reducing or eliminating (saturated) fat from food systems, whilst attempting to maintain the quality of the food product. It also aims to explore the use of emulsifiers as delivery mechanisms for nutritional enhancement of foods.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)