Trans Fats, Glutens Still Vex Bakers

Second-generation replacements have improved functionality, and second-generation food products have improved taste.

By Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief

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Still removing trans fats

Bunge Oil shortening performance in laminated dough
Ken Hays of Bunge Oils tests shortening for performance in laminated dough. Ken specializes in reformulating for trans fat-free customer solutions.
Bunge Oils' trans fat free customer solutions
Marvin Goertz of Bunge Oils works with a piece of pilot plant equipment to check shortening work softening characteristics for Bunge Oils' trans fat free customer solutions.

Four years after the FDA began requiring the declaration of trans fats, some processors still are in search of the perfect replacement for their formulations.

“Most of the companies were ready with reformulations [by the January 2006 deadline] but many had not found the optimal replacement,” says Gary List, a retired USDA regional official specializing in fats and oils, and now a consultant to the food industry – including to the United Soybean Board.

“The baking industry, in particular, requires solid fat for many applications. It provides structure, incorporates air, builds up layers.” Saturated fats were not an option, so bakers first turned to interesterified fats, most of which were higher in saturated fats than trans fat but at least they had no trans fats.”

“There seem to be three approaches bakers and their fats and oils suppliers are taking: conventional processing that minimizes hydrogenation, use of palm and palm kernel oil fractions or enzymatic interesterification,” which rearranges two oil streams to get the best characteristics of both, says Roger Daniels, director of R&D in the Bradley, Ill., Oil Center of Excellence of St. Louis-based Bunge Oils (

All have their places, he says, as each application must find the balance among taste, quality, convenience and price. Another four-way balance he notes is finding the best oil or fat “for the factory, for the distribution system, for shelf life and for the consumer.”

Caravan Ingredients ( developed Trancendim, a line of primarily diglycerides for bakers. “It’s a beta prime crystal modifier, so it can be used to structure any oil you start with,” says Larry Skogerson, vice president of R&D at the Lenaxa, Kan., company.

You can start with any oil that best fits your formulation and desired end result and label declarations, he says, and Trancendim makes it act like a plastic shortening. “You get no more trans fat than was in the oil you started with; your label declaration can say monodiglycerides and oil; and it often can reduce the overall fat content 20-50 percent because of the structuring you get,” he says.

There are several different formulations of Trancendim depending upon the desired ratios of mono-, di- and triglycerides.

Besides trans fats, sodium is another growing formulation concern, even in baked goods. By developing leavening alternatives to sodium acid pyrophosphate, ICL Performance Products (, St. Louis, helps bakers reduce sodium and add calcium, possibly enough calcium to make a calcium label claim.

ICL’s Levona family of leavening agents are calcium pyrophosphates, providing the same functionalities as sodium acid pyrophosphates. Levona Opus provides a slow and delayed leavening action, suitable for frozen and refrigerated products. Levona Brio is a faster grade of leavening acid, delivering carbon dioxide early in the baking process.

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