When the fat comes out of food, what goes in?

November 02, 2011

When fat, sugar and gluten come out of salad dressings, sauces, cookies, beverages, and other foods with the new genre of package labels shouting what's not there, what goes into "light" or "-free" versions of products to make them taste like the original version? The answers appear in the cover story in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS' weekly newsmagazine.

In the article Melody Bombgardner, C&EN Senior Business Editor, explains that food processors usually face the problem of reproducing the texture or "mouth feel" of products that have cut back on fat, sugar and gluten. More and more of these products are appearing on supermarket shelves in response to changing preferences of health-conscious consumers. Food companies are in a quandary in selecting replacements, because of a parallel consumer backlash against products with long complicated lists of ingredients with the names of tongue-twisting chemical compounds.

The article describes how a host of ingredients derived from Mother Nature, are assuming increasingly important roles in giving those processed foods a satisfying taste. It includes a "mouth map" used to help formulate "light" foods so that they taste like the full-fat versions. The article also features one sidebar on natural food ingredients used to give processed foods a satisfying texture and another on food ingredients that do double-duty as ingredients in toothpastes, shampoo, skin creams, and even oil and gas drilling.
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