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 TechNeed Challenge

Reducing free fatty acids (FFA) in frying oil

Frying. Image (c) Microsoft Inc.

This food manufacturer is looking for a technology to extend the usability of its frying oils In particular they are looking for technologies to reduce the formation of free fatty acids (FFA) during frying. They are interested to change or control chemical reaction of hydrolysis without changing water content of the food itself.

Fats used for frying undergo specific chemical changes during use. The most important changes are oxidation, polymerization and hydrolysis. Hydrolysis is the reaction of water released from the fried food with the fat resulting in formation of FFA. The rate of hydrolysis and corresponding concentration of the FFA depends on multiple factors and determines when the frying fat needs to be replaced. The presence of FFA in the oil has also known to further increase hydrolysis.

This client would like to be able to evaluate options for incorporation into their existing fried food lines, and they have capability to execute these tests. Therefore, they strongly prefer to review options where existing data is available and where a sample can be provided.

Both near term and longer-term solutions may be evaluated.

Clearly, making a change in the frying approach will require a delicate balance of many factors.

  • Taste, smell, color and texture may not be affected.
  • If the solution is an ingredient, the product must be natural and food grade; synthesized compounds will not be evaluated.

Possible solution areas

The company believes that there are many possible areas for a solution. These might include:

  • Employing an inhibitor for the chemical reaction of fat hydrolysis
  • Employing a scavenger that collects the FFA as they are formed
  • Use of Bio-tech solutions
  • Use of Enzymes

Previously, the company has investigated solutions based on the rate of hydrolysis and corresponding FFA formation. They know it depends on:

  1. The amount of water in the fried food or water added during processing.
  2. Temperature of frying.
  3. Rate of fat replacement.

Most of the current approaches to regulate hydrolysis deal with altering these three factors.

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