The food industry has a window to research ways to reduce saturated fat in products before the UK's FSA starts its consumer awareness campaign at the end of this year, says an expert from ADM who is anticipating a swell of interest from manufacturers.
Jo Bruce, R&D manager for oils and fats at ADM Europe, said she is definitely expecting demand for ingredients that can help reduce saturated fat content in foods to mushroom, as manufacturers look at developing products that can help meet the Food Standards Agency's (FSA) target to reducing overall dietary intake from 13.3 per cent of food energy per day to under 11 per cent by 2010 (a reduction of 20 per cent).
Although Bruce noted that the agency has not yet said when it will start publishing manufacturer commitments on saturated fat, she believes the industry has six months to a year to conduct work in the area.
The aim would be to have products available on shelf just when consumers are hearing the message through the planned campaigns, and deciding to act on it.
Bruce has been working on ADM's NovaLipid line of oils and fats, which launched in Europe last autumn, largely on a saturated fat reduction platform.
The FSA consultation on saturated fat and energy intake highlighted a number of food categories that are key contributors saturated fat, added sugar and calories in our diets:
Meat and meat products, dairy products (including dairy desserts), fat spreads, cereal products (including biscuits and cakes), snack-type products and potato products (such as crisps), confectionery and drinks (including soft drinks).
According to Bruce, however, it is easier to reduce the saturated fat in the pastry that surrounds the meat in products like sausage rolls and pasties, than it is to reduce that in the meat itself.
Bruce highlighted some products in her company's range that can help in the main categories.
For instance, ADM's NovaLipid Shortening has 30 per cent saturated fat, compared to 40 per cent for most shortenings, but has exactly the same functionality and is clean label. This equates to a 25 per cent reduction in a finished product, going beyond the FSA's overall reduction target of 20 per cent.
While it is easier to reduce saturated fat content in some products than in others, if a manufacturer wants to make a 'reduced saturated fat' claim on a label they have to achieve 30 per cent less fat than the original.
To help here, ADM has a NovaLipid Fluid Shortening product, which Bruce called "more technologically complicated" and is suitable for use in short crust pastries.
When fat is in fluid form, 20 per cent less needs to be used. In addition, the product contains 25 per cent saturated fat, compared to 40 per cent for standard solid fats.
In addition, the fluid shortening product is now available without E-numbers.
The initial version contained E492 (sorbitan trispirate), a crystallisation inhibitor. Now, however, the company has modified the conditions to allow it to stay in liquid form for an extended period without additives, and is currently conducting tests.
NovaLipid products are off-the-peg solutions, and Bruce says they cater to what 90 per cent of the company's customers are looking for. There is a possibility to alter the formulations, however, to meet specific needs of a customer without having to use fat replacers.
In the confectionery area, ADM also has a product called Snowdene that can be used in chocolate coatings in place of hydrogenated palm kernel oil (HPKO). While HPKO has between 95 and 97 per cent saturated fat, Snowdene has 81 per cent.
There is also considerable potential in the snacks area, particularly in potato snacks and fried foods. ADM offers frying oils with saturated fat reduced to eight percent, from the typical range of 18 to 30 per cent.