It is an unfortunate fact that bakers are being driven to manufacture products with less choice of margarines and fats and are being called upon, more than ever, to use their innovative and creative skills to turn bland ingredients into tasty, attractive bakery products. Saturated fats are the latest target of the Food Standards Agency, following the demonising of trans-fats of recent years, which have since been eradicated from most products.

The removal of trans-fats, although necessary, was achieved by the total removal of hydrogenated fats, which was not necessary because fully hydrogenated fats are low in trans-fats. The irony is that they have often been replaced with palm, which is a fat that’s actually higher in saturates. Suppliers are now working to reduce saturated fats by using lower levels of palm-based products (not by using more, as incorrectly printed in the News Insight of 24 April BB).

A recent FSA campaign recommended eating less pastry. Margarine and fat manufacturers took the decision to remove trans-fats long before the articles on alleged ’killer fats’ were printed in the national press. Likewise, we have actively been looking at ways to reduce the saturated fats in our products.

It has not said to stop eating pastry altogether and those people who do want cakes and pastries want to enjoy the experience. But to make great-tasting products with lower sat fats, changes would need to be made to the fats you use and not all of them come cheaper. In fact, to maintain quality there needs to be an acceptance that there could be additional costs associated.

Larger cake manufacturers tend to use seed oils, which are lower in saturated fats than solid fats. But pastry is another matter. Take quiche: a shortcrust pastry might use shortening, which is 100% fat. For that product you have the ability to reduce the amount of fat you’re putting in. One way is to use fluid shortening, so you’re using shortening more efficiently - you use less to get the same effect. The other is to reduce the total amount of fat going in by using a lower fat content ingredient, such as margarine; that way you’re using the same mass of ingredient but the margarine might be 80% fat as opposed to the 100% fat of shortening.

Margarine is typically 80% minimum fat; if fats suppliers can provide you with a 60%-70% product, while still giving an acceptable eat quality, then your fat levels will be even lower, and consequently, your sat fats will be as well.

You need to work with fats suppliers on your line to find out:

a) how much of the fat you use is really effective; and

b) how you can reduce that level

Depending on the application of the fat, you may be able to use one that contains higher levels of seed oils, which are lower in saturated fats. All fats are made from a blend of soft and firm oils, such as palm and rape or palm and sunflower. You can change the balance by engineering the process to utilise the fat to its best effect - using the least amount of fat to give you the quality that you’re looking for.

By reducing the amount of fat, you automatically reduce the amount of saturated fats in the product. The goal is to reduce the fat to a level where there is still a perceived quality. If you’re making puff pastry products like sausage rolls, you need to look at the amount of fat going into the laminations. Laminating fat needs plasticity to work effectively and this is achieved through the use of palm oils. So you reduce layers or use a laminating fat that has less than 80% fat content. Increasing the proportion of seed oils would not be effective in a laminating margarine, which needs palm oils to give the plasticity. But higher amounts of seed oils can be used in the dough fat.

We have even put a butter blend into a product, reduced palm, and reduced the saturated fat level. This results in a more expensive product, but a better quality product, and one with lower sat fats.

So the trade-off is, if you go for softer oils that are more expensive, you can achieve reductions in sat fats, but your product quality might be affected and your price would increase. It’s up to us as suppliers to make sure bakers have the options to make those choices.

? Stephen Bickmore is UK commercial manager of Vandemoortele’s Lipids Division


=== Fats in oils ===

Oils Saturates Monounsaturates Polyunsaturates

Rapeseed 7% 58% 29%

Sunflower 10% 12% 74%

Olive 13% 24% 60%

Soya bean 16% 44% 37%

Palm 50% 37% 10%

Coconut 87% 6% 2%

Cooking Fats

Lard 39% 44% 11%

Butter 60% 26% 5%


=== Five ways to reduce saturated fats ===

== 1. Reduced-fat margarines ==

Vandemoortele has available laminating fats with less than 80% fat, but with maintained quality in the finished product. There are also laminating fats with less than 60% fat, but fat replacers have been used.

== 2. Softer margarines and shortenings ==

By blending more rapeseed oil with the palm and palm fractions, a softer, lower saturated fat product is possible. This product gives good functionality, but can be more expensive than products with less rapeseed oil.

== 3. Replace fat with oil where possible ==

Some recipes can use pure rapeseed oil instead of margarines or fats. This is the best nutritional option, but there are likely to be limited recipes where the quality of product can be maintained.

== 4. Fluid shortening ==

This is probably the most effective way of reducing fat content without losing functionality. The liquid shortening will coat flour far more effectively and efficiently than boxed fats, giving both a commercial advantage and a lower saturated fat product with maintained, and sometimes improved, quality.

== 5. Recipe and process adjustments ==

By looking closely at recipes and processes it may be possible to reduce the amount of fat with just a few recipe adjustments.


=== Fat at a glance ===

== Polyunsaturated fat ==

Omega 3 and Omega 6 are types of polyunsaturated fat, which are both essential for life and growth, reducing the risk of heart disease. Omega 3 improves heartbeat regularity and reduces stickiness of blood, reducing the risk of thromboses. Rich sources include fish oil, linseed oil, rapeseed oil and soya bean oil.

Omega 6 reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Rich sources include: sunflower oil, maize oil and soya bean oil.

== Monounsaturated fat ==

More energy-dense than carbohydrates, this fat leads to increased risk of obesity if too much is consumed.

That said, it has a more desirable effect on cholesterol levels than carbohydrates and has a GI of zero, so does not affect insulin resistance. Rich sources are olive oil and rapeseed oil.

== Saturated fats ==

These push up LDL cholesterol levels, thereby increasing the risk of heart disease. Major sources include milk products, meat products and cereal-based products.

In the UK, we take about 13% of our energy from saturated fats against the recommended level of 11%.

== Trans-fats ==

These increase LDL cholesterol levels and reduce HDL (good) cholesterol levels. They are therefore more harmful than saturated fats. Major sources include cereal-based products, meat products, fat spreads and milk products.

In the UK we consume around 1% of energy from trans-fats against a recommended level of under 2%.