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Brief Published: 8 Aug 2014

Future Fats

Researchers are developing lower-fat hot dogs by using olive oil rather than pork fat

From olive-oil-infused hot dogs to fat-mimicking proteins, recent developments in science and nutrition are highlighting new ways to reduce the fat content of foods without sacrificing flavour and texture.

Researchers at Scotland's Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh have developed modified proteins that could be used to substitute fat in foods such as cheese and baked goods.

The proteins are designed to break down into micro-particles, mimicking the behaviour of fats, enabling food manufacturers to produce low-fat items without losing taste. While the technology has previously only been used in the manufacture of yoghurt, this development means the proteins could be incorporated into products such as baked goods, providing a low-cholesterol alternative to eggs.

A press release from the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, which is funding the project, stated: "Such substitution not only cuts fat content; because eggs can be subject to significant price volatility, it could also cut the cost of products."

Read about another innovative egg substitute in Plant-Based Eggs.

In other developments:

  • A team led by Dutch food research company Nizo has developed a water-soluble ingredient that could replace emulsified oil in products such as mayonnaise and margarine. Crucially, the replacement material – which contains gelatin and polysaccharide – will still provide the same creamy mouth feel that is perceived as fattiness.
  • Academics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have found a way to reduce the fat content of a dressing-like white sauce without affecting the look, feel or flavour by adjusting the pH and calcium content.
  • Researchers at the American Chemical Society are currently developing a way to manufacture lower-fat hot dogs by using olive oil rather than pork fat. The substitute product contains 55% olive oil and could reduce the calories by more than a third, while retaining the texture of a traditional sausage.

For more on lower fat and healthier eating alternatives, see Next-Gen Dieting, The New Sugar, Alimentaria and Super-Luxe Snacking.