ABSTRACT: CyberColloids have been delivering hydrocolloid research and innovation to the food industry for over thirteen years. During this time, the demand for hydrocolloids and fibres has risen significantly and both markets continue to grow. Key to providing textural functionality and sensory attributes, hydrocolloids are widely used in the reformulation of healthier foods. Meeting reformulation targets for healthier foods continues to challenge the food industry. It is well known that removal of key ingredients such as fat poses a number of interlinked technical, sensory and quality issues and that there is rarely a fix-all solution. Hydrocolloid based solutions for fat reduction are commonly used however, we are now seeing an increase in the development and use of fibre based solutions. This article will outline how functional food fibres can be used to provide new texture systems for fat reduction and also briefly, explore the potential and wider significance of their usage.
Fat is a multifunctional ingredient, it contributes to key organoleptic, physiological and structural attributes of a product. It is important for flavour; as a source of flavour (e.g. buttery, beef tallow notes), as a precursor for flavour development (i.e. during processing or cooking), as a carrier of other lipophilic flavour compounds and as a masking agent. Fat also imparts a number of key attributes that influence perception of a product e.g. creaminess, smoothness, glossiness, mouthfeel (fatty-coating) and lubricity. It therefore follows that any fat replacement strategy must address the role(s) that fat is playing in any given application.
A vast range of fat replacement products are in the market; they are generally classified on the basis of being either fat substitutes or fat mimetics (see box) and further on the basis of raw material type i.e. carbohydrate, protein or lipid. In the context of this article, hydrocolloids and functional food fibres can be viewed as carbohydrate fat replacers with fat mimetic properties. They can be used individually or in combination to provide creative texture solutions that allow for fat to be reduced or removed in certain formulations.
In terms of reformulating for healthy products, taste and texture are vitally important to the enjoyment of food and consumers will not compromise on either. Calorie dense fats and oils can be replaced to a certain degree with healthy alternatives (e.g. water, air and skim-milk) but the real challenge is to maintain or improve the texture and taste of the reformulated product when evaluated against a full fat comparator. For example, if we eat a low fat yoghurt that has a rich and creamy texture then it is less likely to be perceived as low fat and we will enjoy it more. In this respect, carbohydrate based texturants i.e. hydrocolloids and functional food fibres have a number of benefits.
Traditionally, the hydrocolloids and fibres sectors have been viewed as distinct entities, albeit with some overlap in functionality (technical or physiological), but this…