Stabilizing fats and oils. Interview with Víctor León, Head of Laboratory at BTSA

A few days ago, Víctor León Fernández, our Head of Laboratory, was interviewed about the important need to stabilize food fats and oils.

Víctor León has a degree in Fundamental Biology from the University of Salamanca, with extensive experience in the sector, and is the Director of Quality and R & D Laboratory at BTSA. He is  considered to be an expert specialist in the treatment of fat.

Here we have transcribed the interview, which, as you can see, conveys in a clear and simple way some concepts, which, by their nature, are sometimes difficult to understand.

What is the definition of fats?

In biochemical terms, the concept of fat is used to designate various kinds of lipids, usually the fatty acid esters with glycerol, forming the so-called acyl glycerides (monoglycerides, diglycerides and triglycerides).

Some common characteristics of fats are their insolubility in water and their density is significantly lower.

With what other names can we define fats?

Commonly fats are those that are solid triglycerides at room temperature, while those that are in the liquid state are known as oils. The origin of these compounds can be of both animal and plant origin.

What is the role of fats in human food?

Fats are responsible for many functions within the body, as they are essential elements for life.

In this way, we can say that they are nutrients that contribute energy to the organism (up to 30%), constitute the energy reserve to form part of the adipose tissue, and collaborate in the regulation of body temperature.

They facilitate the transport of liposoluble vitamins and are a component of a large number of hormones and cell membranes, making them an essential part of the diet.

How does self-oxidation of fats occur?

Lipid oxidation is a common phenomenon in fats, in which, after exposure to oxygen, a chain reaction is generated, resulting in free radicals. This causes the degradation of the fat manifested sensory in the form of rancidity, and associated with bad odours and unpleasant flavors.

The presence of some metals and peroxide radicals, as well as energy from light can also trigger oxidation phenomena.

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Victor León, Head of Laboratory at BTSA

Why is it necessary to stabilise fats? Explain the concept of stabilisation

The concept of stabilisation refers to the protection of fats against the auto-oxidative processes mentioned above, so that free radicals are prevented or hindered and consequently the appearance of the rancidity effects are delayed .

The stabilisation of fat extends shelf life extension, preserving its nutritional and organoleptic properties for a longer time, which is a benefit not only at the food level, but also industrially and economically.

How can fats be made more stable?

The most commonly used form by the food industry to stabilise fats is the addition of antioxidants, substances that, generally by means of chemical mechanisms, prevent the development of free radicals and as a consequence,rancidity.

For what type of food and / or processes in the food industry does the fat stabilisation necessary?

All foods with some fatty content, which are the majority, are susceptible to be stabilised.

From my point of view, it is a mistake to think that only those with a high fat content should have antioxidantsadded to them, since others, with lower fat content, can drastically modify their organoleptic characteristics if the lipid fraction they contain oxidizes, representing a detriment to the whole product.

It is the case of foods with nuts or essential oils, usually with a low representativity in the rest of the product, but when oxidised produce unwanted aromas and flavours throughout the product, which reduces palatability.

What studies are done at BTSA on fat stabilisation?

BTSA is a natural antioxidant company with more than 25 years of experience in the sector.

The most common studies of stabilisation and antioxidant effectiveness are usually carried out using techniques known as “accelerated oxidation”, such as the RANCIMAT, RapidOxy or Schaal analysis.

The general principle of these studies is accelerated degradation-oxidation of fats by action and effect of temperature, pressure and oxygen flow on controlled, stabilised or blank samples, to measure the changes produced by the various antioxidants.

We currently have a group of experts in the field and a collection of more than 300 studies with different antioxidants on various lipid matrices.

Personal vision

There are a multitude of antioxidants to stabilise fats, natural and synthetic, with wide trajectory or in development phase.

In our company we have always opted for a natural vision of them, on the cutting edge of science and always with the aim of improving the formulas we have, as well as providing customised solutions for our customers, a fundamental premise given the great variety of foods and Industrial techniques present in everyday food.