Reducing the trans fats in our food could prevent a half-million deaths from heart disease globally every year, says the World Health Organization. Trans fats are found in ordinary products such as margarine, cakes, icing, fried foods, salad dressings, commercially-prepared popcorn and much more. In many countries, consumers eat high levels of trans fats without being aware of the risk of heart disease.
Regulations to reduce trans fats already exist in many countries. The U.S. FDA now forbids food manufacturers from adding partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), a major source of trans fats, to their products, effective from mid-June 2018. Similarly, the World Health Organization has launched a program encouraging governments to adopt programs to limit PHOs and reduce trans fats globally. Europe is also considering new limits.
Trans fats are formed when manufacturers use a partial hydrogenation process to give margarines the correct melting properties and shelf-stability. Fortunately, they can achieve all these same qualities and avoid trans fats by using a different process, interesterification.
Interesterification can be done with chemicals or enzymes. Both successfully avoid trans fats, but the enzymatic process has many advantages.
Healthier, higher yields and better for the environment
Using enzymes for interesterification provides a simple, efficient and environmentally-friendly way to produce margarines without trans fats, at the same time improving product quality and production yields.
A Novozymes lipase, Lipozyme® TL IM, yields higher-quality shortenings with no color changes, low diglycerides, and fewer byproducts (see photo). The enzymatic process eliminates the need for chemicals, washing or post-bleaching. It produces no wastewater. The continuous process involves fewer steps and reduces energy costs. In short, using enzymes offers manufacturers a simple, efficient way to cut the trans fats and produce a higher-quality product.