Answering the call for calorie reduction

by Jeff Gelski
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The month of May has brought a focus on calorie reduction.

On May 8 The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, said it will feature calorie information on the front of all the company’s packages. On May 13 a study involving researchers from Tufts University in Boston appeared on-line in JAMA Internal Medicine. It found all meal categories at non-chain restaurants in the study provided excessive dietary energy (calories). The mean energy content of individual meals was 1,327 calories, equivalent to 66% of typical daily energy requirements.

Companies have reason to reduce calories in their products, but they also know the importance of maintaining texture and taste. They may find assistance in starches, fibers and enzymes.

Penford Food Ingredients, Centennial, Colo., offers PenGel 8, a starch gel designed for use in ground sausage and patties, emulsified and meat analogues, and chopped and formed meats like chicken nuggets. PenGel 8 mimics fat to maintain taste, improve yield, enhance juiciness and tenderness, and improve the product’s nutritional profile of food products, according to the company.

“The percentage of calorie reduction using PenGel 8 will depend on the meat product’s starting calorie and fat level,” said Steve Smith, R&D manager for Penford Food Ingredients. “For example in a typical breakfast sausage patty, PenGel 8 is able to reduce total calories by approximately 25 percent and the calories from fat by approximately 33 percent.”

PenGel 8 may work in such school meal items as chicken nuggets.

“PenGel 8 will enable the processor to develop a juicy meat like chicken nuggets with up to 50% reduced fat,” Smith said. “PenGel 8 should be processed exactly as fat is used in current chopped and formed chicken nuggets.”

He added, “In addition to PenGel 8’s fat reduction benefit, it also has a bland flavor, which allows other flavors to shine through. PenGel 8 has excellent water holding capability, which will increase overall yield in meat products. And due to its fat mimetic appearance, it creates a more realistic meat analog product.”

Fat reduction in sausages is possible through the use of Citri-Fi fibers derived from orange pulp. Replacing chicken fat with Citri-Fi may reduce the amount of fat by up to 85 percent in sausages, according to Fiberstar, Inc., River Falls, Wis. For example, per 100 grams, calories may drop to 130 from 460 and calories from fat may drop to 60 from 410.

In bratwursts, the use of Citri-Fi may lead to 22 percent fewer calories (280 from 360 per 100 grams), 27 percent fewer calories from fat (210 from 290), 28 percent less total fat (23 grams from 32 grams) and 33 percent less saturated fat (10 grams from 15 grams).

Citri-Fi is a partial oil, fat, egg and meat replacer, according to Fiberstar. Citri-Fi and extra water may cost less than the oil, fat, egg and meat they replace, and they reduce fat, trans fat, saturated fat and calories per serving.

Florida Food Products, Inc. sources citrus powder and celery powder for its FiberGel ingredients. The company introduced a FiberGel LC ingredient, a water-binding fiber that may hold more than eight times its weight, at the American Society of Baking’s BakingTech 2013 in Chicago. It was used at 1% in a low-fat muffin application.

FiberGel LC, comprised of citrus powder and dextrose, has been shown to work in baked foods, dairy items and confectionery items. It offers benefits in emulsification, mouthfeel/texture, egg replacement, freeze/thaw stability and increased yield, according to Florida Food Products. Another FiberGel LC ingredient, comprised of celery powder and dextrose, has been shown to work in savory and non-food applications.

Sweetener Supply Corp., Brookfield, Ill., offers Ridgeland fibers produced from plant materials. Tasteless, odorless and colorless, the fiber ingredients may be used in baked foods and pasta to reduce calories. Improving digestive health, managing weight and helping diabetics manage their blood sugar and cholesterol levels are some of the ingredient’s benefits, according to Sweetener Supply Corp.

A July 16 presentation at the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition in Chicago will focus on using enzymes in creating low-fat products. Piet Buwalda, Ph.D., starch technology manager of Avebe, Veendam, The Netherlands, will speak on recent developments in using transferase enzymes to modify starch and improve texture in low-fat items.

Consumers are showing interest in calories, according to the International Food Information Council Foundation’s 2012 Food & Health Survey. When asked what they considered when deciding what food or beverage to purchase, 71 percent of respondents said calories, ranking it ahead of second-place whole grains (67 percent) and third-place fiber (62 percent). When asked what source of calories are the most likely to cause weight gain, 30 percent said all sources are equal, 20 percent said sugars, 19 percent said carbohydrates, 18 percent said fats, 1 percent said protein and 11 percent said not sure.

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