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Emulsion-templated structuring of liquid oil for future development of saturated fat-free food products

Final Report Summary - SAT-FAT-FREE (Emulsion-templated structuring of liquid oil for future development of saturated fat-free food products)

The main goal of this project is to enhance the fundamental understanding of complex physico-chemical and colloidal aspects that accompany the process of oil structuring and further use this knowledge to develop saturated fat free food products. The specific objectives were to evaluate direct and indirect approaches in order to use food-grade materials (small molecular weight compounds and polymers) for structuring edible oil and further demonstrate their applications in real food systems.

Work done:
To achieve this objectives, various oil structuring approaches were successfully evaluated including colloid templates such as emulsions and foams. Structured oil systems such as oleogels, gelled oil continuous emulsions and structured complex colloids such as multiple emulsions and high internal phase emulsions were created using food grade materials such as proteins (gelatin, soy protein, whey protein isolate), polysaccharides (xanthan gum, methylcellulose, hydroxyl propyl methylcellulose, locust bean gum, carrageenan and low methoxy pectin), inorganic particles (fumed silica) and natural waxes (shellac and natural waxes) as structuring agents. In addition to microstructure evaluation (using advanced microscopy techniques like polarized, confocal and electron microscopy), the structure-property links were also studied using small and large deformation studies (rheology & texture analysis). Functionalities of food applications of oleogels were also studied in a range of edible products such as bakery, chocolates and table spreads.

Specific results:

1) Pioneering the use of hydrophilic polymers for oil gelation
Based on the unique indirect approaches such as colloid templates (such as emulsions and foams), Dr. Patel has pioneered the use of hydrophilic food polymers for oil gelation. The results from this work which were reported (as open access papers) in multidisciplinary as well as high-ranked food journals (such as Langmuir, RSC Advances, Food & Function and Food Hydrocolloids) have generated several follow-up papers from other internationally active research groups.

2) Understanding the structure-property relationship in oleocolloids
To have a broader understanding in the field of oleocolloids, different systems including oleogels, structured emulsions and multiple emulsions were comprehensively studied using advanced microscopy and rheology measurements. This combination of different techniques have enhanced the understanding of several structuring mechanisms including bulk crystallization, network formation, particle agglomeration and droplet phase gelation which are responsible for stabilization and structuring of oleocolloids.

Expected final results and their potential impact and use:

The knowledge acquired from the fundamental studies have already been communicated in form of open access articles, conference presentations, courses an authored book and an edited book. This timely information has generated significant interest among academic researchers and industrial scientists alike. Publications resulting from this project have been well-cited and have encouraged fellow researchers to explore the pioneering ideas in this field.

The preliminary results from this project are currently been evaluated by the industry partner (Vandemoortele Lipids N.V.) for applications in their existing product lines. Commercial applications of oleogelation technology is expected in the future if the feasibility trials are successful.

Last but not least, junior researchers (PhD, master and internship students) working on this project have acquired new skills in the area of emulsion technology, oleogelation, advanced microscopy and rheology. As the topic is very relevant to current industrial needs, most master students have landed important positions in industry based on the work done during the course of this project.