As health concerns over trans fats have led partially hydrogenated fats to fall out of favour, manufacturers of fried goods have increasingly turned to vegetable oils like sunflower oil, rapeseed oil and palm oiline instead.
Healthier they may be, but vegetable oils come with two drawbacks: they are much more prone to oxidation and polymerisation and prices are rising fast.
Dutch ingredients group Jan Dekker has developed an ingredient intended to solve both these problems in one blow. Called Dekafry, it is a blend of all vegetable/vegetable-based stabilising agents:
The company says natural antioxidants are used to enhance the performance of the frying oil and extend the fried food's shelf life, while anti-polymerising agents (in some variants used in conjunction with organic acids) are included to improve the heat stability of the oil.
Citric acid, meanwhile, is included to deduce the deposition of brown degradation products on the steel surface of the fryer caused by metal ions.
Dekker first launched the ingredient last November, and this week it is airing it to the Central and Eastern European market for the first time at FiCEE trade show in Warsaw, where it holds a place of prominence on the stand of distributor KUK.
Typically, fryers are used for a few hours a day, with long intermittent periods during which the oil is exposed to more oxidative and thermal stress than during the frying process itself.
During the frying, however, the oil is affected by polymerisation reactions and, until a temperature of 130 C is reached, some oxidation. Dekker has measured polymerisation by measuring the formation of resulting polar compounds.
It found that rapeseed and sunflower oils with 0.5 per cent Dekafry had 10.3 and 10.4 per cent polar compounds after 16 hours of discontinuous frying at 180 C. Non-Dekafry rapeseed, meanwhile, had 25.3 per cent polar compounds, and non-Dekafry sunflower oil 28.6 percent.
Werner Böcher, sales manager for business unit food ingredients, told FoodNavigator.com that the overall upshot is: "You can use the oil longer, which is interesting because of oil prices."
Sunflower oil prices are reported to have soared from around US$800 per tonne in May 2007 to around $1400 in September. Following a similar curve, rape oil was said to have seen a hike from around $800 per tonne to almost $1100 over the same period.
Böcher added that there also look to be benefits for the quality the end products.
The company has conducted tests to compare the effect of oil with Dekafry to that without on aspects like crispiness, crust, texture, aroma and colour.
Ordinary vegetable oil takes some time to reach a point where it bestows optimum quality on the products, after which it degrades and decomposes. Oil with Dekafry, on the other hand, was seen to provide the same quality aspects from the outset, and for a much longer period after the optimum point.
Böcher said that Dekafry can be used in oils for all foods that are fried - from donoughts to potato chips to chicken wings.
In addition, the uptake of fat by French fries, as an example, as been seen to be reduced by as much as ten per cent. This is seen to create a product with a healthier profile - although some may argue that the addition fat plays a role in maintaining the expected taste of the product.
The product is also being used by catering firms.